There’s No Place Like Home?

Have you been feeling ill at ease lately at your college or university, thinking that perhaps it’s not the best place for someone of your background and temperament?  Recently, The Chronicle of Higher Education published “Warning Signs that You and Your Campus Are a Bad Fit,” in order to help professors notice and interpret their square-peg/round-hole experiences.

The article is a valuable guide, but it overlooks several key symptoms of poor personal/institutional alignment.  As a service to University Life readers, we present them here:

—  At a reception for new faculty, the Provost asks about your scholarly interests.  You eagerly respond, “I study the river as a symbol of rebirth in 19th-century British fiction.” The Provost stares at you blankly and says, “You’re joking, right?” 

—  At department meetings you silently scan the conference table around which your colleagues are seated, and contemplate how long it would take to push 11 people, one at a time, off a cliff.

—  Your school’s service-animal policy allows students to bring a flounder to class.

—  The email address assigned to you by the IT department is

— Although you have known the cashier in the faculty dining room for three years, she asks to see your university ID every time you pay for lunch, even when you’re using cash.

—  Whenever you request a clean towel at the school’s rec center,  the attendant picks a damp one from the dirty-laundry bin.

—  The department secretary has never called you by your name.

—  The department secretary has never called you, period.

—  When you show a clip from Saving Private Ryan in your course on the Second World War, four students complain that they developed PTSD as a result of seeing Tom Hanks unhappy.  The Dean upholds their grievance, and your travel funds for professional conferences are frozen for a year.

—  The custodian has never emptied the waste basket in your office, but does use the corner of your office to store filled trash bags on days he doesn’t want to carry them to the dumpster in the parking lot. 

—  Your department chair informs you that the final exam you prepared for your Calculus II course does not contain a sufficient number of questions about “feelings.”

—  In response to your query about what steps were being taken by the university to address diversity and inclusion, the Vice President for Student Affairs notes that the cafeteria recently added sweet potato fries to the dinner menu on alternate Wednesdays.

—  You look forward with pleasure to cancelling class next week in order to have a root canal.

Good luck, and may the Novocaine be with you.