Wednesday, January 31, 2007


So I was about to go to class yesterday, when I received an email from a queer colleague that said in the subject line "URGENT!!!" I clicked on it, and it said "[Student] is coming over to your building now to try to get into your class. Sie is really smart, queer kid, but a total fuck up. I just told hir I was overenrolled (true) and sie couldn't take my class. Be warned!!!!!"

This illustrates two drop-add phenomena. The first, and simplest, is that queer students want to take courses with queer faculty, sometimes without much regard as to what is being taught. They are often determined, and will make the rounds until they get into one.

OK. Fine.

And this is why some administrators and colleagues sometimes mistake queer studies for a social welfare program. But I don't even care about that, really, unless I am trying to make a hire or put something through a major committee. Then I get way huffy and rigorous and talk in theoretical language almost no one understands just to *show* them.

But back to drop add, known at some schools as "browsing" (or grazing -- think of little cows moving from field to field until they find the right grass.) The other feature of these few days when we all are getting organized at Zenith is that faculty do trade information about students, usually of the good kind: "Dear Jack: Melissa Goody is interested in your class, and I just want you to know she did a terrific job for me last term, blah, blah, blah." Because most of us want to help students get the education they desire, and we don't really mind taking an extra body if the student is going to make a positive contribution to the course. Very, very occasionally the information is delivered as a warning, like I got from my colleague, which means: only take this student if you are feeling strong; or, this student will increase your work load by what feels like two students.

So [Student} showed up, sat through class, then wiggled up to me at the end, and asked to be admitted. It then became clear to me that sie had half a dozen friends standing around watching. Hmmmm -- risk humiliating hir in front of his friends, or let him in and see if he can muddle through?

Heck, maybe sie'll wake up: some do, for no apparent reason, like reading the first book that really moved them to work. Double heck, maybe I am a social worker. Who knows? I let hir in. We'll see.


Unknown said...

Heh, at my school, it's called "shopping" --- appropriately enough for SoCal. Sometimes it's so bad that I have to give a speech to remind students to *drop* the course right away if they're not really planning on taking it, and to remind their absent friends as well ... as I often turn away a dozen students trying to crash the first week only to see 15 drop the last day of the drop-add period.

I didn't know that about the queer students, but it makes sense. As a TA who bounces around different depts., I don't usually know where I'll be next time even if I did have students who wanted to take a class from me.

But Marx and feminist theory sounds like a wonderful course to me ... can *I* crash? :)

Lesboprof said...

Ah, you soft touch! I am also likely to take in strays.

Hope he is not the problem your friend described. And the class does sound awesome.

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