A Radical Defense of the Status Quo

by Rebecca Schuman

In the immortal (and oft-quoted) words of Iago the Parrot, I think I’m going to have a heart attack and die from the “surprise” that Claire Potter, the “Tenured Radical” (arguably the least radical voice in all of higher ed today), devoted her entire column today to tone-shaming me, and anyone else who dares to call the job market out for being horrible–and she did it all whilst misspelling my name, despite the fact that I write for the same publication she does (and in a higher profile spot a lot of the time–maybe she’s jealous).

She has ISSUES with my TONE and my RAGE, people. I mean, is it a good idea to speculate about a search committee’s reasons for giving its candidates less than a week’s notice for MLA interviews? Especially since I dared not call them for comment to get a “fair and balanced” story on my personal blog, which is not and has never pretended to be journalism?

And of course my little ragey-wage is fine for a few close friends and family, but what about WHEN THE WORLD SEES IT (I’ve certainly never had that happen before, because many of my columns for Slate don’t go viral)?!?!? Shouldn’t I be ashamed of my tone? I mean, this is the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA here, this is a TIER 1 RESEARCH DEPARTMENT. DO I know who I’m dealing with?

I mean, there are any number of important reasons a pleb such as myself would not understand, that would make a department all but forced to give its candidates (all of whom “should” be at the conference on $1200 of their own money anyway, if they’re “serious” about being scholars!) 5 days’ notice for interviews, while the committee members have had their all-expenses-paid trip to MLA bought and paid for for months! Obviously they could not ever even think of canceling their own travel plans, and just doing the whole thing on Skype like they should–because then how would they get to preen around the Sheraton lobby, scoping out name tags and conversing loudly about how “hard” it is to be doing a search OMG it’s SO HARD HAAAYLP US WE’RE SO IMPORTANT!

The Tenured Radical apparently failed to see this gem of an “apology” from the Chair of the department in IHE, where she admits that indeed they simply could not get their shit together, but instead of pulling several all-nighters like people at a normal job would have to if they fuck up, they’re making the candidates suffer, because they can.

Nope, Claire Potter assumes that the stupid one here is me: ragey, no-job-havey, failurey, needs-tone-policingy me.

You know what, Your Tenuredness? You’re being a fucking lifeboater. Do you think you’d be hired into your own job today? You absolutely wouldn’t. That insecurity must be killing you, and everyone else in academia who thinks they’re God and that they don’t owe basic human decency to the people they are attempting to make their colleagues for the next 40 years.

I cannot believe  Potter dares call herself a “radical” anything–a radical defender of the academic status quo, I suppose, though (adopts Potter style concern-trolly tone): is that really something to be proud of?