Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sorry, Guys

Because I love you all, I haven't talked about my job in ages. I've pretty much resolved myself to the fact that I will be working at my job forever, so I better just buck up and make the best of my remaining years of servitude. In fact, I printed out this picture a few months ago and have it taped to the radiator behind me:

Maybe this is me having a supremely bad attitude, but whatever. I don't care.

Ahhh, when The Simpsons was actually good....

So anyway, the reason for this post is that I, once again, have to talk about my job to report on three things, only ONE of which is horrible (guess which one): 1) I have a new boss. 2) I don't have to deal with morons, er, I mean students, anymore. 3) Faculty are legally retarded and make me want to pound my face with a shovel.

1) I have a new boss, as of September 2011. He was hired from outside my department by a committee that the Dean appointed, which was a really brilliant idea since 85% of the faculty already in my department are either clueless or assholes or some combination of both. I like my new boss very much. What's even better is that he's not from the USA. So his understanding, compassion, and common sense are far superior to most faculty that I've encountered. He believes in autonomy, respects my intellect and ability to do my job, and realizes how stressful work can be---and actually TRIES TO EFFECT CHANGE. Which brings me to point 2.

2) I'm not advising students anymore. In order to prevent me from stabbing myself in the eye with my letter opener and eating thumbtacks, my boss decided to take the student advising component of my job off my plate.

At first, I was like, "YAY!"

Then about 2 hours later, I was like, "Um...yay?"

After 2-3 days, I was like a heroin addict going through withdrawal. I had advised students for so long that my brain was short circuiting.

Then I got really sad; stupid sad. Like crying-at-diaper-commercials sad.

Then, acceptance.

I sent an e-mail out to the students in my department, explaining the new advising situation. And now I feel liberated. I used to always feel this incredible weight of responsibility to 200+ random youths who can't tie their shoes or read an analog clock if their lives depended on it. They really did rely way too heavily on me fixing their problems and bearing the burden of responsibility for THEIR academic careers. I was too accessible; I made things too easy for them, and they knew it. Here's an e-mail I received from a student:

"Everyone in my 301 is mourning the loss of you as an advisor. We decided to have "Occupy XXXXX's Office" until they change it. Though the thought was that XXXXX wouldn't even be in their office anyway."

3) Stop...just stop. So sometimes we have to hire new faculty. Faculty positions come in one of three forms: an adjunct (total crap job), an auxiliary (slightly less crap job), or a tenure-track (the Holy Grail of teaching jobs). We are in the process of hiring a few of those much-sought-after tenure-track positions; a process during which I have endured the most addle-brained idiots on the planet. The job(s) had multiple postings with various online services (which I wrote and posted) and, I think, quite CLEARLY explain what's required. To wit:

Applications MUST be submitted online via XXXX. Mailed, faxed, or e-mailed applications will NOT be accepted. Questions may be addressed to Prof. Not Gina at
Candidates should include: 1) a cover letter; 2) curriculum vitae; 3) up to three samples of your scholarly writing; and 4) the names and email addresses of at least three references.

Uh huh. Not so much. Afraid not.

First of all, if I had a dollar for every person who e-mailed ME about these stupid fucking jobs, I could pay off my mortgage. So let me get this straight: The job ad gives you the name and e-mail address of a contact person who is not me. It's RIGHT THERE. We did all the work for you. Yet, you either:
a) went to my university's website, found my department's website, searched the department's list of faculty and staff and then decided to e-mail me. WHY? How did you even know I would have anything to DO with the job posting? OR
b) you searched for my university and department on the site where you saw the job posting and then noticed my name there as the contact person for that particular site. Again WHY, when we already told you who to contact and it's NOT ME?

Second, want to take a guess at what the number-one question was? A: "Where do I send my recommendation letters?" Where? UP YOUR ASS, that's where. We've gotten over 500 applications for these positions. Do you really think we can manage THREE or FOUR letters of recommendation for EACH of you? Morons, your bus is leaving.

Keep in mind that these people have Ph.D.'s.

One example of idiocy:

Dear Ms. Waters,

I submitted online my application for the faculty search, but I did not see on the website a way to attach confidential letters of recommendation. If it's convenient for you, I can have these sent via email from, an on-line portfolio website.

Dude...really? At least that person asked first. I got SEVERAL unsolicited e-mails from with recommendation letters attached for various applicants. To which I responded:

We have not requested, nor wish to receive any application materials at this time. This applicant apparently did not pay attention to the instructions in our job posting.

Thank you,
Gina Waters

One guy got pissed that I called him out with interfolio. They notified him that I complained about the submission on his behalf and he responded directly to me:

Dear Ms. Waters,

Thanks for your note below. I submitted my application materials at as instructed by the job ad. However, I wasn’t comfortable having you solicit letters directly from my recommenders for a few reasons. One of the writers is out of the country for the year and literally unreachable by email for long stretches of time. Another is so disorganized when it comes to such matters that it is a virtual impossibility that he would successfully get the letter to you. A third agreed to write a letter on the condition that he didn’t get besieged by emails asking him to log in and load it to various websites. And though unfortunate, I am a bit sympathetic with this attitude; having written many letters for my own students, I’m well aware of the time required to compose a thoughtful letter. For these reasons, I thought it best to send this one piece of my application packet directly to you. Apologies for the breach of protocol. I hope, though, that you might be able to understand my predicament. Is there any alternative way to get the letters to you?


DUDE. NO. There are so many things wrong with this guy that I don't even know where to begin. Look, bottom line: If your references are a) out of the country b) extraordinarily disorganized and c) too stupid, put-out, arrogant, etc. to figure out how to send one for you then I suggest you GET DIFFERENT REFERENCES, JERKOFF. Also? WE DON'T WANT THE GORRAM LETTERS. Capisce?

Maybe these people never learned to read or were never encouraged as children. I swear I couldn't make this shit up if I tried:

Dear Ms. Waters,

In your jobs listing, you ask for names and email addresses of three references. Does that mean that you do not want letters, sent either electronically or through the mail?

Thank you for your time,


Dear Ms. Waters,

This is an applicant for the tenure track position. I've completed the online applications, but how shall I send the recommendation letters? Can my professors email them directly?

Thanks a lot!


Dear Ms. Waters,

I am writing with regards to my application for the tenure-track position. I submitted my application online last week but I did not receive any confirmation regarding the submission. Also, I did not find any instructions for how to submit my recommendation letters. Should I have my recommenders e-mail the letters to you directly?

Please let me know the best way to proceed. Many thanks for your help.

Best wishes,

O_o F'REAL???

Here's an irate e-mail I received from a applicant. See, apparently their inability to use the online job site or read at a 5th-grade level is MY FAULT:

Hello there,

As you might guess, I have a question about getting letters for my application to your department. I hope you can clarify things for me.

I am applying for an open faculty position. I filled everything out online (at the jobs website), but, contrary to what your job advertisement instructs, the website never gathered information from me on my letters of reference (who is writing the letters and how to contact the letter writers).

Did the website malfunction or is this the correct procedure? Or am I supposed to ask my letter writers to send their letters to Drexel as soon as possible, and if so, where?

As you can tell, I am confused as to the status of my application and the letters to be attached to my application.


"Contrary to what your job advertisement instructs...." Hmm...curious. Let's go back and review what the instructions are, shall we?

Candidates should include: 1) a cover letter; 2) curriculum vitae; 3) up to three samples of your scholarly writing; and 4) the names and email addresses of at least three references. DO NOT SEND RECOMMENDATION LETTERS.

Well, there you go. So let's see if I can explain this because you never passed middle-school reading comprehension. Remember how you just loaded your cover letter and your cv and your writing samples? It was all of 2 minutes ago, so think hard. I'll wait.... Got it? Good. Well, that's how you FUCKING SUBMIT THE NAMES AND CONTACT INFORMATION. Hey, I have a door knob that needs humping, you available?

My response:

Hello Professor Douchewagon:

The XXXX site does not have a special mechanism for entering contact information regarding your references. We did not specifically instruct you to enter information this way. We expected that you would include the contact information for your references as part of your CV or cover letter, or attach the information as a supporting document.

If the XXXX system does not allow you to go back and attach the contact information in one of the manners I mentioned above, don't worry about it. If your application moves to the next stage, the search committee will contact you about how to submit letters of recommendation.

DO NOT send any recommendation letters at this time.

Guess who had interfolio send me their letters...? Yup. That's right. DOUCHEWAGON.

You know what? I'm done. You can all go jump off a bridge. What's most frustrating about this whole thing? We HAVE to choose three or four people from this pool of dumbasses. So I might not be advising students anymore, but my moron-to-admin ratio is about to be further skewed.

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