Tag Archives: uc crisis

No More Office

Yesterday, I got up early, because I had a meeting at nine, and drove down to get blood drawn for the blood test for the yearly physical. Friday seems to be a good day to go because very few people were there. The lady drawing my blood asked me how I was, and I said, OK, I guess. And she said, At least you are still here (having perhaps picked up on a negative tone in my voice and the fact that I now look old), and I said, This getting old stuff is the pits. Then she started talking about how old she was–I swear she didn’t look more than 45–and how she was a grandmother, and how tired she got after a day at work and then going to baby sit her daughters’ children until her daughter’s husband got home from work. Boy, people lead hectic lives.

She gave me the package of stuff to test your own stool. I hate that and last year I just didn’t do it. She said the tests were better now and I said, yea, but they were so complicated that, well, I just tended to forget it. And she laughed really hard. I didn’t think it was that funny. Maybe it was unusual for a patient just to admit well, yea, I decided to shine it on rather than come up with heaps of excuses for not having done it. Beats me.

Then I went to the meeting at nine.

Then I went to a meeting at ten. I learned there (I had some hints of this previously but hadn’t paid much attention) that an “administrative reconfiguration” is going on that would mean that the Writing Program would no longer have its own office. That freaked me. I can’t imagine the Writing Program without its own office. As long as the Writing Program has been the Writing Program it has had its own office. True, the turn over of staff in the WP has been enormous; still you get to know people after a while, and if you have a problem, you can go over and get some help getting it fixed, and when you walk in the office door people know who you are.

Soon we will have no office and therefore no office door to walk into and no faces on the other side that know you. Well, they may know you–but whoever they are they will be very, very busy. Because the plan is to consolidate the “administrative” aspects of the English Department (which is huge), and the Linguistics Department, and the Philosophy Department, and the lowly Writing Program in ONE office.

I wonder what the hell they will call this office; maybe the HUGE office. Sure as heck one will not get that little bit of personal touch one got in the Writing Program Office. Because sure as heck there will be fewer people in that one Huge Office than there were distributed among those four smaller offices. After all, this consolidation of offices is aimed at saving money–and would not have occurred had it not been for the ongoing financial crunch.

So some staff will be fired.

And the Writing Program will not have its own office, or dedicated administrative staff, or mail room.

This is set to happen next fall.

I left that meeting feel a little strange and light headed, perhaps from having my blood drawn.

If it’s not one thing…

Classes started last week.

Both of my sections had 25 or more crashers. All the seats in one class were full and I had a student sitting on the floor by the door.

That had never happened before.

Also, I had a sheaf of emails already received from students asking to be put on the waiting list, with stories of a kind I had not previously heard. One student wrote that unless he could get my class, which he needs to be able to take classes in his major, that his parents were arguing he should not attend at all.

I found it pretty upsetting to have to kick out those 25 crashers in each section. But all the people enrolled in the classes, except one, showed up on that first day.

This is the sort of thing that is bound to happen when classes are cut; and they are being cut all over campus because of the UC Budget Crisis.

Thankfully the authorities had sent an email to all students saying that the problems with classes were not the fault of instructors like me. So nobody got angry with me, at least not directly to my face.

That was the first day of class. The second day of class, they all showed up apparently completely exhausted; this was most true of the 3:30-4:45 section.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

The day before classes started the laptop I bought to use as part of my teaching died. I borrowed one of the laptops from the Writing Program, but I don’t know how long I will be allowed to keep it.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Last night before going to bed, I checked the weather on the net. I do that every night. We live right on the fog line and the temp can fluctuate significantly. They said the temp was going down to 51 at night and then I mistakenly clicked another link and found:

…TSUNAMI ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT FOR THE IMMEDIATE COASTAL AREAS OF SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL CALIFORNIA… THIS IS NOT A TSUNAMI WARNING OR TSUNAMI WATCH. REPEAT…THIS IS NOT A TSUNAMI WARNING OR TSUNAMI WATCH. …TSUNAMI ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT FOR THE IMMEDIATE COASTAL AREAS OF SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL CALIFORNIA… THIS IS NOT A TSUNAMI WARNING OR TSUNAMI WATCH. REPEAT…THIS IS NOT A TSUNAMI WARNING OR TSUNAMI WATCH.

I was happy that it was not a tsunami warning or watch, merely an advisory. Still, I went to sleep thinking I might wake to a flooded house. We live less than a mile from the Pacific.

But I am happy to report the downstairs was not flooded when I woke and remains unflooded.

I am exhausted.

UC Crisis and Education

The financial crisis now hitting the University of California is the worst I have seen, and I have been teaching at UC Santa Barbara since 1980.  Certainly there have been other down times during this period but nothing like this.

I am particularly concerned about the effects of the proposed budget cuts upon the quality of undergraduate education.  That—high quality undergraduate education—is supposed to be one of the mandates of the UC system, but I fear that it is (and has for a long time) going to get the short end of the stick as financial adjustments are made for the current crisis.

Classes are being cut; instructors, especially lecturers, are being laid off.  Class sizes are sure to increase, and if teaching assistants are also cut back, large lectures will no longer have sections.

Students will still be expected and feel the pressure, for financial reasons, to graduate in four years, but with these changed conditions that will be increasingly impossible.

If you are currently a student in the UC system or have been (especially if you are at UCSB) I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on the crisis and any reflections you might have on the quality of instruction you received or are receiving.

For a little background on the crisis, you might check out: "I am for option 4."