Trisalyn Nelson’s recent article, “10 Ways to Rebuild Department Culture,” is a valuable resource for those wishing to infuse their departments with a renewed sense of community in the aftermath of COVID (Chronicle of Higher Education, September 26th online).
However, if you really want to attain a level of camaraderie that is the envy of your colleagues, consider the following five suggestions:
— At least once a week lead your department faculty on a march around the campus, loudly repeating a self-promoting chant. For example, here’s a favorite of political scientists at the University of Arizona:
OH ME, OH MY
WE BE POLI SCI
WE’RE COOL, NOT CRUEL
DAMN RIGHT WE RULE THIS SCHOOL!
Can’t get it out of your mind, can you?
— At the beginning of department meetings, employ intense icebreakers to establish lasting bonds (e.g., “Let’s go around the table and have each person tell us a little bit about their first sexual experience with a willing partner. Fran, why don’t you start?”)
— Hold monthly slumber parties where department members consume vast quantities of sangria and use burner phones to make harassing calls to despised high-level university administrators (“Hello, Dean Fryzell? You suck!”). Make sure to invest in a high-quality voice-distortion device. (You can get one online for under $40.)
— As the Fall semester draws to a close, have your department put on a Nativity play for the entire campus, with every department member on stage for the Bethlehem manger scene at the end. To ensure inclusion and avoid controversy, replace the Three Wise Men with Muhammad, Buddha, and Tom Brady (in uniform, presenting the Baby Jesus with an autographed football).
— Nothing brings people together like a common enemy. On behalf of your department, sue your school’s Board of Trustees. The specifics of the lawsuit don’t matter, but insufficient parking, malfunctioning vending machines, and stale dinner rolls in the faculty dining room are all fair game. Pick any grievance that works for you.
Your colleagues are waiting. Start leading.