Bad Department-Interpersonal-Shit Day

I’m having a bad service/interpersonal-dynamics-in-the-department day.

Part 1: Being a course coordinator sucks donkey balls.

Note: There is flexibility in when we offer most upper-level and graduate courses. There is a sequence, but you can offer these out of sequence.

I am coordinating teaching assignments within the area, which was three days of being the mediator between some people fighting over a fave graduate course. That got settled.

I thought I had everyone’s preferences accommodated well. One faculty requested a higher-level upper grad course, and was assigned it. When the assignments were shared, three other “elders” from the area came to scold me for assigning this person that course off cycle. I said fine, we’ll find something else, but he did request it and we do offer higher-level courses off cycle.

No, that was not the end. One of them (a dude, of course, and one junior to me at that) came back to mansplain to me how I can avoid such mistakes in the future.

Well, fuck you and your mansplaining email.

Part 2: I was reminded that I had two children in the 13+ years since I’ve been employed here, and have never had any teaching release of any kind for either.

I had my second kid (first as faculty) midway through the tenure track, in May 200x. I accelerated the teaching to be done two weeks early and the baby was kind enough to wait after the final, so I taught the spring in full. I was back teaching in the fall. The “teaching release” amounted to not making me teach two but one course in that fall (woo-hoo!) and not even on account of “let’s help women in science because sometimes they procreate” but by using my one-course release promised in the chair’s letter when I applied (and got) an NSF grant some time before that. Woo-hoo! So basically nothing was done that was different for a woman with a small child versus just about anyone else. (We have changed the numbers of required courses since then, but at that point everyone who was research active and not brand new on the tenure track was supposed to teach three per year or buy out.)

I had my third kid (second as faculty) after tenure, in 201x. This is what this is about. He was born in late June on 201x. I didn’t teach in fall of 201x or spring 201(x+1). I was asked today by our admin how exactly I did that, because they don’t keep records and apparently it’s retroactively somehow fishy. Thank god for my annual reports, where I could go look and it’s all nicely written down. The way I did it is through academic-year buyout + teaching overload in the preceding academic year to take care of the fall, and I was actually formally on sabbatical in the spring (during that spring I organized a major conference here on campus, for which of course I got squat in credit even though it was a soul-crushing amount of extra work, but whatever).

I am so fuckin’ pissed right now.


  1. Dang – I don’t have kids, but a semester of parental leave is the standard at my U…no questions asked, for either/both parents. I forget sometimes that my blue-state’s progressive policies are not the norm.
    Also I think you should turn over the course coordination task to junior dude since he obviously knows how it should be done 😉

  2. I do course scheduling and, yeah, everyone has an opinion because they’re unaware of the five other trade-offs that went into giving this person that course. If I pull you off course 101 and give you 301, then the guy pulled from 301 needs something, and 101 isn’t in his expertise, and this other person can’t be put into 101 because they’re also teaching a specialized lab that meets during the 101 slot, and I could move 101 but the large room is only available at certain times…

    When people start telling me how to do the job I just start listing the umpteen million considerations that went into my decision and ask them if they’re still interested in taking over this task.

  3. Wait… Smurf is, like, a walking talking actual human these days, which means that 201x was a long time ago. And they’re retroactively bugging you about taking parental leave (which it sounds like you didn’t even really take)? That’s bonkers. I’d be pissed too. That just smells like some obnoxious dude in your department thinks you’ve been shirking your teaching duties, which is clearly crap given what you’ve previously described on this blog in terms of service and large intro course teaching. Dude can mind his own business, especially until after he gestates three humans using his own metabolism.

  4. If you weren’t given parental leave xx years ago, you should demand retroactive teaching relief (to be taken now) along with a new formal departmental policy. Do it for the future women! Do it for the time to write a novel!

  5. BTW, if you want a lesson in how unexamined class privilege works, compare and contrast the way a typical non-tenure-track lecturer interacts with a scheduling coordinator and the way that a Very Woke tenured or tenure-track professor interacts with the scheduling coordinators. Woke People almost always have excessively precious scheduling requests.

  6. Jfc, there’s no parental leave at your university? Or did your colleagues discourage you from taking it/not tell you about it? Either way, what a bunch of backwards f*ckers. They don’t deserve you.

  7. @Anon: Yeah, we faculty get nothing different than other staff (3 months unpaid, and you can use short-term disability and accumulated medical leave to cover it for pay). Any version that involves having a semester off is left to different departments to deal with as they see fit. The only two women other than me who had kids (both were post tenure) were given alternative teaching duties (coordinating a seminar). I didn’t want the semester off with kid No 2 and didn’t stop the tenure clock or anything. (It was my 2nd kid, I knew what I was doing, and it was 4 months when I returned to work.) But it would be nice to have the option to take time off, considering we faculty spend some 30-40 years at the job, often with the same institution. And I played ball and bought out and taught overload to cover kid No 3. I am really, really pissed that I am now asked, 6 years after the fact, what shady shit I pulled off. It’s not shady at all, and why the fuck don’t we have the option for women to stay at home for a few months after delivering? Diversity shmiversity. Everyone just talks.
    (Btw, we just introduced it for grad students in the college, they can stay home for three months, and the college and department will pay for it, so grant money is not obligated. This is wonderful for graduate students!)

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