I’m Megapregnant, We Have a Frozen Pipe and I Have ZERO PATIENCE FOR BULLSHIT

…so I pretty much have no choice but to resurrect, briefly, my “I Lose My Shit At Trolls Publicly” feature, always a controversial one. I would like to remind anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to make an Internet comment on an article that your comment is public, and thus anything that anyone chooses to do with it once you’ve made it is fair game. That said, here’s a complete gem from a conference-interview-defender from today’s piece:

And by the way, your introductory anecdote is puzzling: so your partner has the resources and time to travel across the globe to visit with you over the holidays but complains bitterly at the “injustice” of being expected to travel to a job interview? Please.

Do you know how academic intersessions work? You have a certain amount of time between Fall and Spring semesters and it’s set in stone. Those are the “time and resources” of which you speak, idiot. The sole “time and resources” of the entire year. The conference also happens during that time. My husband and I saved up, and sacrificed a lot so that we could split the cost of a ticket for him to come visit me once during the academic year. Once. The cost of a well-in-advance-purchased ticket from St. Louis to Vienna was about $1500. The cost of a last-minute Vienna-to-Philadelphia ticket, plus hotel and suit? I can only imagine, but I’m guessing $4000? $5000? Not to mention the heartbreak of not getting to see each other for more than a few days for an entire academic year.

He never, ever, ever complained about “injustice.” Neither did I. He simply made a very reasonable request that was flat-out denied for a stupid reason (or, really, no reason), and I merely highlighted — with substantial effort collecting data and working through it — why that reason was stupid. You, “Allison Wallace,” are one of the many reasons I could not be happier to have left academia for good.

Here is a Tweet I made that I think/hope pretty much sums it up.

UPDATE: While I’m at it, I’ll have a go at this one too:

There is valuable data to be gained from meeting a candidate in person. If we ask our Dean to foot the bill for a campus visit and the candidate turns out to be obnoxious or disdainful of teaching it’s no excuse to say “well they sounded so good on the telephone.”

Yes, because nobody ever, ever, ever made one impression at MLA and then a starkly different one on campus. That never, ever, ever, ever happens (except it happens so often that searches are often KILLED because all the campus interviewees turn out to be a “bad fit,” even though they did so well at the conference).

Here’s “Allison Wallace” back again:

It takes planning and, yes, even small sacrifices. Not unreasonable for a tenure track job interview, I would say.

All right, I guess I can forgive this person because she is clearly spending far more time commenting on my article than she did reading it. The $1000 average figure was the total out of pocket (i.e. non-reimbursed or funded) costs for these grad students . That was more often than not with their MLA grant. But lady, please: even $600 is hardly a “small” sacrifice given the stipends that most grad students have, and with interview requests coming but a week (sometimes five days) before the conference, no “planning” can take place. I seriously can’t with you.

Oh, and PS: a TT first-rounder means you are MAYBE one of 15, more likely one of 20 candidates, so it is beyond unreasonable to expect a $1000 outlay for the privilege.


This has been: I‘m About To Burst, So Is Our Pipe, and I Lose My Shit. Thank you for joining me.

19 thoughts on “I’m Megapregnant, We Have a Frozen Pipe and I Have ZERO PATIENCE FOR BULLSHIT

    • I imagine shit’s going to be pretty real around here until the baby comes out. I am, as I just explained to the MD to a knowing nod, “monumentally uncomfortable all the time.” Add to that the thrilling suspense of whether or not our frozen pipe has burst (there will be no way to tell until the stains start spreading on the ceiling, or don’t), and you’ve got one Schuman who just CANNOT.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “Allison Wallace” is the gift that keeps on giving. She now has a second, even more deluded comment (see below) which calls for (pardon my French) some well-earned b**tch-slapping.

    “A modest $400 travel grant represents a sizeable chunk of a $1000 travel cost.”
    $400 is not a “sizeable chunk” of a $1,000. It’s less than 50%. Do the math, you self-absorbed, thoughtless woman.

    “Ever have a seamless Skype connection? Of course not. Far from providing a level playing field, interviewees with faster and more stable internet connections (who happen to be in the same time zone as the interviewers) have an enormous advantage over others who don’t.” “It takes planning and, yes, even small sacrifices. Not unreasonable for a tenure track job interview, I would say. ”

    Yes, there is such a thing as a seamless Skype connection. In fact, seamless internet technology is the norm rather than a rare thing on on university campuses, with campus-wide wi-fi and dedicated IT support staff. Surely this woman who teaches at UC Berkeley (according to her profile) knows this. “Level-playing field”? “Advantage.” “Small sacrifices.” Shame on her for using her privilege as an insider to speak the language of exploitation.

    Here is her entire comment. Have at it, readers:
    Forgive me, but the notion that “You can get just as much from a Skype interview as from a conference interview” is actually laughable. Ever have a seamless Skype connection? Of course not. Far from providing a level playing field, interviewees with faster and more stable internet connections (who happen to be in the same time zone as the interviewers) have an enormous advantage over others who don’t. As another poster rightly pointed out, a tenure track hire represents a major investment for a university. Search committee members give an enormous amount of time and take the search seriously – they would expect their candidates to as well.

    I interact with graduate students five days of the week. And having been a graduate student not that long ago, I am very aware of the reality of their lives. I also know that there are small pots of money all around campuses to offset conference travel. A modest $400 travel grant represents a sizeable chunk of a $1000 travel cost.

    It takes planning and, yes, even small sacrifices. Not unreasonable for a tenure track job interview, I would say.
    – See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/853-the-1-000-job-interview-that-will-not-die#sthash.FG3sKXBZ.dpuf


    • That fucking idiot. I’ve responded in my post, actually. She clearly did not read my article at all, given that I clearly stated that the average OUT OF POCKET costs for grad students was $1000, so that was with. the. grant. Fuck her.


    • ARGGG! So presumptuous- of course, every worthy candidate is ABD with access to “small pots of money around campuses”. Do they hide the pots in trees? Under benches? At my major public R1, there was one small “pot” of money. It was the $250 we got every semester, through a competitive application process, for all conference travel. That was only available if you were presenting a paper, btw, which I did at the MLA to get my grubby hands on it. When I was on the market as a non-tenure track lecturer, there was–shockingly!!– no money available from my employer. Skype interviews work great. Committees can often interview more candidates, or include more interviewers. I was always more comfortable on Skype than at hotel interviews, leading to better answers and a better representation of my scholarly personality. The only thing those horrid meat market ballrooms or hotel beds seem to add to the content of the interview is making sure the candidates are hazed good and proper.

      The whole language of exchange–“woe are we, we sacrifice so much as search committee members, the candidates should sacrifice too, cause we work so hard to reject so many of them”–is offensive. Her concern over the poors without fast internet connections, but who surely have those pots of gold, uh, money, waiting to fund their last minute travels to any corner of the North American continent, is astounding.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another comment hit me as freaking hilarious: “There are many fortune 500 companies that absolutely insist on an in-person interview for certain roles” They do, but they also pay. I don’t even work for a fortune 500, but if they want to talk to someone from another state, they pay to bring them in. It’s common courtesy.


  3. I wish there was a way to name and shame departments who pull interview requests from people who ask about Skype interviews. As for interview schedules, my preference is 1st round: telephone/Skype, SKIP MLA, 2nd round: on campus.


    • Yeah, there isn’t though because it would involve breaking the confidence of people who were brave enough to reach out to me, but afraid it would get back to them and hurt their chances elsewhere. If someone really wants to whistleblow in the future I’d worship them forever, but I can 100% understand why they wouldn’t.


  4. I work in advertising and on the few occasions I’ve interviewed out of state, I was flown out, put up in a nice hotel, and taken out to dinner. This is pretty standard, no matter your seniority. Wishing you an easy birth and a non-burst pipe, although I do love it when you lose your shit at trolls.

    Liked by 1 person

    • maybe that is how I will occupy myself in early labor; you know, to pass the time.

      JUST IN CASE EVERYONE IS ON TENTERHOOKS: No burst pipe in our place (that we can tell), but our neighbor’s burst in the middle of the night (we are semidetached) so that caused some “excitement,” the extent of which we have yet to learn.


  5. Last night, after arriving in Vancouver, I was so happy to read this comment thread as I got ready to throw myself unto the breach this morning. Any other readers at the MLA now? Today’s panel on contingent labor: excellent. Rebecca, you would have liked it, and had a lot to add.

    I just want to throw into the ether my frustration at having (a) submitted a paper and (b) booked waaaay in advance to a save money; all to come to this conference under the assumption that I would definitely have at least one job interview, and the thought that possible employers would come see my talk. Alas, no interviews, my talk is at 8:30 Sunday morning, and it all adds up to the kind of expensive vacation that people making minimum wage can’t afford. Yes.


  6. 1. that $1,000 doesn’t even include child care while I’m at the conference, or the cost of purchasing weather-appropriate clothes for those of us who life in the southwest. it also doesn’t include the work missed in order to attend the conference, or account for the fact that the majority of papers delivered will be delivered by people who did not get compensated for writing them . So i suspect the $1,000 figure is quite conservative.

    2. Why am I even paying to present a paper anyway? This practice is rarely questioned even though it is frankly ludicrous. The staff at the hotel is being paid, Staff members of the MLA itself are getting paid. Representatives from academic publishers there to hawk their wares are getting paid. Everyone is getting paid, in fact, except the people actually delivering their papers, who (as Rebecca pointed out) are often paying *even if they are tenured professors.*

    3. Given the cost of attending, why can’t people deliver papers through video Skype if they can’t afford to attend the conference?

    This is why I didn’t go to any conferences this year. It’s an outrageous amount of money to pay and there seems to be no real advantage to going, other than adding a line to my CV. And there are far, far cheaper ways to do that.


  7. I am so glad we are having this conversation because the posters here are raising important points through their comments. Until I discovered Rebecca’s blog a couple years ago, I knew no one who complained or even raised the issue of conference-related expenses because it was seen as being ‘disloyal’ to the profession or an indication of non-seriousness.

    No one questions these basic assumptions when we are grad students “being fed the party line” by our advisers/professors. All we are told is this is important for your career, these are sunk costs you need to incur simply to justify your presence in this profession. Any adviser who is still telling hur graduate students that they should attend these major conferences to improve visibility needs to have a hard look at hur moral conscience.

    The idea of sunk costs, the fact that we keep going year after year, throwing good money after bad, just to justify the initial cost of having spent almost a decade pursuing a graduate degree in literatures and languages — keeps so many of us, lingering on the fringes of academia, even though tenure-track positions are declining year after year. Hope does not pay the bills.


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