Saturday, July 31, 2010

Office Space, Academic Version

Update: The New Office Commons, a Day in the Life

First they said, "You don't need good salaries, do you? You don't mind making less than a high school teacher, right?" and we said, "Low salaries--no problem."

Then they said, "Tenure just encourages deadwood. You don't need tenure, right?" and we said, "No, we trust you to give us a fair salary and decent health benefits, because that's how capitalism works: ethical standards of compensation for all!"

And now, at the Chronicle: "You don't need offices, do you? How about a big cart so you can lug your stuff around and sit in a lounge, Starbucks-style?"
Say a department provided a spacious, well appointed, comfortable, very exclusive commons area for its faculty members—something like a library's reading room, maybe, with library tables that professors could spread their work out over, conference rooms in which to meet students or make phone calls, club chairs and sofas for relaxing, reading, and conversing, maybe even a patio or garden. Each faculty member would have a big lockable storage space, or perhaps a rolling cart for books and papers, and could plug in a laptop anywhere in the commons on any given day. (Some companies have taken similar approaches.)

I'm sure there are faculty members who would hate such an arrangement. So maybe a two-tier system would be in order—a professor could have a private office if he or she thought it necessary, but those who agreed to use the shared space might get a little supplement in their paychecks each month, or get better parking or maybe a free faculty-club membership.
Ah, the ever-popular two-tier system, where whoever can be the most unpleasant gets the goodies and the most accommodating gets the rolling cart. Or, better still: charge us for the space necessary to meet with weeping students and conduct time-intensive advising appointments--that's the ticket!

I think I'm going to go ahead and call Lumberg out on this one. If he takes my red stapler, he's toast.
Edited to add: With all the anti-tenure articles and the rest, I'm starting to think that the Chronicle hates professors. It's getting to be like Dean Dad over there about how tenure is destroying the university and the old fogies are destroying it by not using technology. Just saying.


Maggie said...

Holy cow. If I didn't get an office, I would go work somewhere that actually paid in money rather than goodwill. An office is necessary so that one can take naps under the desk in the middle of one's 12-hour teaching day.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I was just going to say, where would I nap? This climate is not one that conduces to sleeping in one's car, and those 12-hour days can be killers.

Annie Em said...

You've captured exactly what I was feeling but couldn't articulate about the constant negativity of "our" newspaper, The Chronicle, which has clearly gone over to the sensationalism side.

Luckily, the recent issue (on best colleges to work for---I've always wondered if administrators do deals to get in that issue) has a semi-restorative opinion piece on the "value" of the deadwood, I mean, tenured, professor: "The Senior Professor: Deadwood or Iceberg?"

undine said...

Maggie and Dame Eleanor, I hadn't thought about the naps, but you really do need a place to relax and be yourself to get energized for class. How about this: I'll share an office when all the administrators do. Think that'll fly?

AnnieEm--hah! "Deadwood or iceberg?" That's EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

Bardiac said...

I'd love to see some of our administrators sharing cubicles. But then we'd have to hire another administrator to keep track of cubicles.

Clio Bluestocking said...

Yes, you nailed it on The Chronicle seeming to hate professors. So many of the articles seem to show a contempt for anyone who goes into this profession or education in general (except, of course, for administration). Don't get me started on those commenters!

undine said...

Bardiac, there'd be a Dean of Cubicles, with two Associate Vice Deans and four executive assistants. You know it's true!

Clio Bluestocking, I'm glad you saw it, too. I thought I was imagining things at first.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I just have to say I heart you for the Office Space references. And the Milton shout out. Was recently passing out cake at a function and wanted so badly to reference the Office Space cake scene and laugh with someone...let's laugh in retrospect, ok? :)

But AWK! on the Office Cubicle system. Nooooooooooooo!

alabang office space for lease said...

Naps call for stealth beds.

The Bittersweet Girl said...

Holy crap. How did I miss this stroke of pure genius?

They've removed the phones in our offices here at Unnamed U. so I guess it's only one more small step towards realizing that offices themselves are unnecessary.