Monday, 18 August 2008

HR follies

I preface all of this by saying this is nothing personal against the HR folks here, who were actually quite pleasant today; I just feel the need to rage against the machine.

My day began way too early with a 22-year-old video with the production values of a small-market cable TV ad detailing the fun and excitement of the Texas Hazard Communication Act, which explained that huffing paint fumes and drinking benzene for the next 30 years probably wouldn’t be smart. Later on I spent waaay too much time doing five separate training modules online on things that either would be blindingly obvious to someone with a postgraduate degree or wouldn’t be so obvious if I hadn’t been already subjected to training in such matters at all of my previous employers as well. All of the training, needless to say, was presented in such a way that none of the examples were actually relevant to the work situation that professors find themselves in—instead of “don’t take bribes from the textbook companies” and “don’t fondle your students in exchange for grades,” it was “don’t use the on-campus physical plant facilities to fix your buddies’ cars.”

Also needless to say, none of these training modules included the only one that would be useful—namely the one I have to do to get IRB approval to sneeze in the direction of data collected from people I’ll never meet, because without the training I’d apparently be the first political scientist in history capable of abusing human subjects backwards through time.

And to top things off I think the thunderstorms killed my the state’s computer over the weekend.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The ass end of the campus grapevine

At least now I know why we all suddenly had to complete a training module on FERPA last week, although in fairness it was the only required training module thus far that actually seemed minimally relevant to my job.

Without wading into the specifics of the case at hand (all I know is what is printed in the local paper), I will say that I have no problem in principle with the idea that students ought to be entitled to due process regarding charges of academic dishonesty, just as they are entitled to due process in the determination of their grades in other circumstances, provided that those entrusted with the duty of reviewing these charges take violations seriously and operate with the presumption that the burden of proof in a grade dispute is on the student rather than the faculty member.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

“This beehive needed whacking”

Day two of the TAMIU plagiarism saga hits Inside Higher Ed with such pearls of wisdom from the (now terminated) instructor who apparently instigated the controversy.