It’s one thing for a college to have a couple of professors who abuse their tenure, like some here who have it and their classes consist of them rambling about stories and not really teaching anything. It’s also one thing to have some teachers who want students to do projects that tell them what they want to hear. However, it is another thing to have a department and a professor who are almost blatantly signing off on something that they like and using a student to do work that is a waste of the university’s time and money. I have seen one such example and it has gotten me more than a little livid, because the truth is – this is a REALLY bad joke.
Over the last few weeks, we have seen posters up for a campaign that was supposed to ban smoking across campus here at UAA. A campaign that is as useless as it was interesting, it was fun to watch. This campaign started the first and probably only sectarian conflict that I will likely ever see here. With the lack of student involvement, the two-sided propaganda war that ignited was a sight to see. We didn’t get a picture but there was a jerry-rigged billboard of signs the day of voting against the ban, surrounded by posters in support of it. It was kind of telling about how the entire campaign worked. It was a war of words, with both sides getting heated and saying harsh things. This was almost as ugly as modern political campaigns.
The propaganda was especially interesting. The side against used heated rhetoric about how the people for this effectively want to cast a group of people who isn’t hurting them in any way out, just because they don’t like the habit. The side in support made an interesting (and sometimes amusing) case that they could be putting other stuff into their mouths besides cigarettes (I can think of a few things…) and that smoking is something they should stop doing because it can harm their careers. Which, to me, is kind of insulting, because it is another instance of trying to shame a group of people you don’t like to do what you want them to do. To measure up to your standards. But the other side’s comparison to casting out lepers in days gone by was also over the top. However, it was a neat battle of ideals that was played out with all the vigor of a culture war.
The election took place and, wouldn’t you know it – it passed. The ban of smoking on campus, a stupid and pointless waste of university time and money (which will be nigh-impossible to enforce effectively) has become part of the system here.
This is stupid for all kinds of reasons. First, it shows that we have another instance of people who can’t handle even a fraction of discomfort. Smoking is not allowed inside buildings. It is supposed to be kept over 50 feet from any building at any time. We make the smokers huddle outside in the winter like a bunch of hookers. We have a lot of cops on the university’s PD force who smoke. But all that pales in comparison to the fact that this is just going to be a waste of the school’s time and money. For one – how would they enforce it. Should all the UPD officers be on the lookout for anyone who is smoking? Smokers are a clever lot. Ban smoking in an city and you’ll have them on the roof or hanging out of the 20th floor window lighting up. Are we going to have them waste their precious time searching for everywhere there are smokers hiding out? Should we have a tip-line so students can call in and narc on people who aren’t hurting them at all? The next thing that should have tipped them off is – banning things on campus doesn’t work! I work on campus, and I have seen countless booze bottles and mini-bottles around, wherever there is a quiet place that they can avoid being seen. So, we ban alcohol on campus, and that doesn’t work. What could have possibly compelled them to believe that that would work?
However, that isn’t what gets me mad. For real, that doesn’t. Here’s what does make me mad – this was a project. For real, this wasn’t done for what is interpreted as the greater good. This was done for the express purpose of getting points. And it seems that this person will succeed, since they made a poster and ever had their project signed off on by a member of the faculty. Which ties in to the second thing that makes me mad.
I have little issue with the student who did this project. For real, I don’t. She has a lot of guts to get a culture war this strong going. I admire her spunk. Though I do take issue with the fact that the poster complained that the reason they didn’t get more votes for their proposal is because they didn’t want to pay the fee that Student Government had for their putting up fliers. You won anyway, honey. Be a good winner. The person I have a problem with in all of this is the professor.
I won’t name names, because I don’t want to make this personal. I want to make it about the merits of the thing. The problem here is that there is a professor who signed off on this. A professor who should have seen that this ban is a bad idea, won’t work and will just end up wasting the university’s time and money. Not to mention, given how this will just get ugly in the long run, my money is on the ban ending in a few years, after the University, which is already tightening its budget, realizes that this isn’t helping them. There is a professor here who should have realized that, historically, banning things doesn’t work. They didn’t learn from history and decided to okay this. Which, as we see it, means that they are in support of it. That means that they are in favor of helping a student assist their ideology.
Now, maybe I’m wrong about that. Maybe there is more to this story. Maybe the professor just wanted to do what any good chemist does with two chemicals to figure out how they interact – put them in a beaker and apply heat. However, it doesn’t feel that way. What this looks like, by all appearances, is that this whole thing boils down to two things. This whole affair is, at best – a waste of the university’s time and money. At worse, this is academic nepotism so that this professor could get a student to do her heavy lifting for her. If I’m wrong, good. But that’s now what this looks like on the surface. A student ignites a culture war for a grade, and the professor ignores what should have been evidence pointing that this wouldn’t work.
What a waste of time.
Until next time, a quote,
“I thought Mustang was all about kissing ass to get to the top?” -Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist