06 November 2009

More Games

Yesterday I experienced the first real case of rage I've had since my operation. When I got to the college, I couldn't look at or talk to anybody until I got into my classrooms.

The games haven't ended with that coordinator, whom I'll call Laura. The department's secretary, whom I'll call Deena, has been complaining to our department chair essentially because I ask questions, bring things to her attention and am persistent. I know she's busy, but sometimes I have a legitimate question, such as: When a document--in this case, my class schedule for next semseter--contains two contradictory pieces of information, which one do you believe? Or do you belive neither?

When I asked her, you'd have thought that I was asking her to eat one of her children. She was screaming at me. But of course, I can't say anything about that to the department chair or the college administration. However, because I unwittingly approached her at a bad time last week, she felt absolutely free to not only complain to the chair, she had no compunction about embellishing the story by saying that I cursed at her. She'll probably tell a similar kind of story to the chair, if she hasn't already, mainly because she knows the chair will take her word over mine.

People sometimes tell me I "read too much into things." But after that experience I had with the prof a few days ago, and the accusatory tone the chair uses when speaking to me, even though she hasn't the slightest bit of evidence but someone's word of any wrongdoing on my part, I really think that someone or some people are trying to drive me out of that place.

I guess I should take some comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one who feels that way. Last week, "Cathy" told me, "They're looking for flaws in my breathing." She's been at the college for almost twenty years, fifteen of them as an adjunct instructor. Now she's been getting grief from that same coordinator who made the false accusations against me earlier this week. Why is this coordinator breathing down her neck? Well, that coordinator observed her class and wrote a report, which included the claim that this prof is lax in her job because a student came late to class. Hmm...I guess we, as profs, have control over train schedules, traffic jams and such.

And not only did Cathy have to endure such a stupid evaluation from Laura; she also has been to hear the department chair tell her that she should "look for a job closer to home." The chair did not elaborate; Cathy's evaluations have been overwhelmingly positive and students seek her out.
Now, Cathy and I aren't in league in any conspiracies. Neither of us has ever had any wish to usurp anyone's power. Yet administrative people in our department have treated us with the same combination of defensiveness and accusation.

We both came up with a possible reason why we're being treated the way we are. We're both bigger-than-average women, both of us have gone through things that have nearly cost us our lives and we just won't take condsecension or duplicity from anyone, much less someone who's young enough to be one of our children.

Mind you, the ones who are trying to make "Cathy" and me pawns in their games are the very sorts of people who purport to be paragons of tolerance and open-mindedness. And "Laura" calls herself a feminist.

Yet they want two women with advanced degrees and who are writers to be academic versions of Harriet Nelson. They want us small-framed, wasp-waisted and utterly submissive: We're not supposed to speak up for anything or anyone, much less ourselves. And, if we are creative or have any original ideas, we're supposed to smile as they take our ideas as their own. After all, it's for the "greater good"---of their careers


Gunnar Berg said...

Some people are very good at getting the ear of their superiors. I retired earlier than I would have chosen to, because of a boss (I refuse to refer to him as "a superior). A short time later he was "let go". I didn't find this gratifying, for some odd reason this made me dislike him even more.

Justine Nicholas Valinotti said...

Gunnar, I'm speculating on why your old boss's dismissal made you dislike him even more. Does this seem accurate: You left because of him. Then he was let go. Maybe if you'd stayed, you could have worked without having to deal with him. At least while he was still there, you knew you'd made the right decision to retire earlier than you would have chosen to. But, after he was gone, you felt you'd retired "for nothing" on his account.