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AcademiaLeaks, University of Chicago Edition

I was just sent this by an anonymous reader. It's not private but it's not in the news. The reader says "Haha imminent collapse. For real though, mostly suggestions for more committees..." They went on, "It all started when grad students voted to form a union in 2017. Admin didn’t recognize it but launched a committee to investigate grad education in 2018. Their report was released today... There’s a suggestion to let students have input on tenure LOL..." Some snippets:

...We were concerned to learn that students feel there is no expectation that it is part of a faculty member’s role to teach TAs how to teach. Worse, students feel some UChicago professors don’t prioritize teaching classes at all, let alone the teaching of pedagogy. Moreover, they indicated that under some circumstances, professors may not even be qualified to teach pedagogy.

This feigned surprise and horror at obvious well-known facts is the kind of Soviet-level delusion I've talked about before. You don't become a prof at U Chicago by prioritizing teaching, let alone teaching PhD students how to teach. All administrators know this, and reports like this are pure theatre. Also, if you can get a PhD, you can teach yourself how to teach (there is hardly any known method for teaching, let alone teaching teaching). You learn how to teach by getting smart and then telling others what's up! If you want/need someone to show you how to teach, you're not ready to teach.

The current transportation options offered by the University are aimed at making students feel secure in getting around campus. These options include the availability of a Safety Escort provided by the University of Chicago Police Department; although it is unclear how well known to students this program is. Additionally, not all students may feel safe with a police escort.

When new and enhanced safety measures cause safety concerns, you know something has gone wrong.

the CGE Faculty Survey showed that at least in some units more of the responsibility for PhD student advising and mentoring is perceived to be shouldered by faculty who are female or from underrepresented backgrounds. One way to positively influence the quality of faculty mentoring going forward, and at the same time to reward good mentoring, is to increase the level of scrutiny on mentorship by enlisting student feedback during faculty promotion and tenure decisions.

This is an interesting pattern. Academics will generally agree that women and people of color are held back by sexism and racism in academia, and that academia should take steps to increase their leadership opportunities (or some such management-speak). This invariably leads to more work of some kind for women and people of color, and then the same people will protest that women and people of color do a disproportionate share of work. Like new safety measures causing new safety concerns, solutions to one set of academics' grievances are usually a basis for some other common set of grievances, leading to a dense web of mutually-reinforcing dissatisfactions, each of which actively stimulates the others for nothing more than momentary satisfactions of ressentiment.

It's not too uncommon to invite graduate student input on tenure decisions, actually, but it's interesting to think about how this plays out in connection with the previous observation. I'll let you figure that out.

Finally, a stunning little self-own... The disingenuous "virtue signaling" of academic "diversity" messaging becomes explicit:

...still require meaningful representation of students of color in a range of institutional and educational settings to signal that diversity is valued.

The people who write these reports do not genuinely value anything, at least in the time they spend writing these things. In brief moments of transparency, they will even tell you: they are just signaling to others that they value whatever it is they are supposed to value. The dictatorship of the "they", Das Man.

Do you have any Academia Leaks? Submit them here.

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