Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Radical's History Reviewed: When I Was Bad, I Was Horrid

Mostly because they have been linked by my history colleague Historiann, I have of late been drawn to the luridly enraged and cruelly hilarious posts at Rate Your Students. A blog response to the notorious, RYS, from my point of view, is a kind of academic pornography: it's outrageous, and it relies on cruel caricatures of students that have enough truth in them to make them universally recognizable -- the terrible students described at this blog can be found at a community college, an Ivy, or any stop in between. It doesn't stop at pillorying undergraduates, but produces the occasional post that skewers graduate students for being whining, careless little piss-ants.

You will notice that RYS is not on the list of blogs I follow regularly (see widget on the left), but in fact I do follow it regularly from a bookmarked link in my Safari navbar. While there are many blogs I follow from bookmarks, RYS is there as the internet equivalent of sliding a dirty magazine between the mattress and the box spring. I don't want to read it, but I do -- or more accurately, I don't want to want to read it. Every time I do it feels like the time a feminist colleague of mine urged me to read Jane Gallop's Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment (Duke: 1997): "It's like a horrible traffic accident," she said; "You can't not look."

Yet RYS, compelling as it is, reminds me that one characteristic of the blogosphere is a kind of self-righteous rage that often gets focused on students, colleagues, institutional politics, varsity athletics, or "the administration" -- a rage that is more complex, surely, in its origins and context than whatever rant I am reading wants to admit to. Many of us are frustrated, insecure, overworked, under-rewarded, and uncertain about what the future will hold. We were told in graduate school that if we worked hard we would succeed, and we did work hard - so why are some of us teaching adjunct and some of us on a jet plane to a contract for a crossover narrative history of the Nixon presidency and a named chair? Why do some of us get up early and stay up late, publishing and teaching our hearts out in visiting positions, only to be told that we are "too far along" for the tenure-track assistant professor slot we would take despite our age and accomplishments to get our careers back on track? Why do some of us resolve every year to put our scholarship first, only to be loaded down with committee work, course overloads, and the excess grunt-work of the university?

Enter the clueless student who, through carelessness, narcissism, and often unconsciously rude and over-privileged behavior, becomes the fulcrum around which all of our rage and frustration about Planet College congeals. This is the student who disputes every grade below an A-, and tells you in the teaching evaluation that you have liberal bias; the student who walks in ten minutes late, misses every question you answered about the assignment that is due tomorrow, and expects you to repeat it all one-on-one in a special appointment outside office hours; the student who drinks pints of water in class, and then needs to leave abruptly in the middle of your lecture to refill the water bottle and, inevitably, go to the bathroom.

Well dear reader, I was once that student. Not always, or even most of the time, but sometimes. And like the girl with the curl, when I was bad I was horrid.

I was reminded of this because I was recently assigned the task of either disposing of several large boxes of personal papers (which we have hauled from home to home for almost twenty years) or finding a place to keep them other than the front hall of our otherwise gracious home. Clearly decisions needed to be made. Upon opening one box, I discovered an accordion file that contains what must be almost every college paper I wrote and -- I kid you not -- thirty notebooks full of lecture and seminar notes from the classes I took as an undergraduate at Oligarch University.

The courses I liked are obvious: "E. Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels," I scribbled on one notebook cover, after a hasty post-lecture conference with one professor. In a different color ink, there is a library call number: clearly I actually got this book out of the library and read it. Similarly, on the inside front leaf of the notebook for a course on the Third Republic, I noted advice given to me over a beer by one of my favorite professors: "Find Charles Tilly/could be critical to future." Little did I know that fate would deliver Tilly and his wonderful wife Louise into my hands (actually me into theirs, but I am the hero of this story) when they took a position at the New School in New York. They, in turn, would invite me to join a proseminar where I spent a semester developing a dissertation on American bandit crime with Eric Hobsbawm. Wheels within wheels, man. You couldn't make this up. And it all started with a professor who liked to sit down and have a drink with his students.

Then I pulled out a notebook from a political science course called "Culture, Class, Revolution and the Intellectual," and one vivid -- but not the only -- blemish on my undergraduate past flashed before my eyes in nauseating detail. You see, we had virtually no advising at Oligarch, which means that the vast number of us chose the courses we took by a method that was governed by an entirely personal calculus. For example, my roommate and I, most semesters, signed up for a lecture course that required us to read novels: the Victorian novel, the Eighteenth Century Novel, the Modern American Novel. I was an English major, she was an Art major, but why did we sign up for these classes? Because we liked reading novels, and we liked to talk to each other about them. Duh. My other method was to sign up for courses that were either taught by people I knew to be good, or cool (a technique for making intellectual choices that my students at Zenith practice to this day), or courses that promised reading or insight on a hip topic that I knew nothing about. I also signed up for what seems now, for someone who became a twentieth century historian, an excessive number of courses in Renaissance literature, where my huge and unaccountable crush on the professor was entirely and fully satisfied by excelling at close readings of Spenser and his contemporaries week after week, and imagining how my insight and critical skills might ultimately lead to a romantic encounter with this scholar.

But until the fall of my junior year, at a certain point in every semester, I -- not very consciously -- decided which courses deserved my full attention (Spenser, for example) and which ones I could blow off. And I blew off, I'm afraid to say, more than enough courses to produce an undergraduate transcript that would raise fatal doubts about my capacity for graduate study were I to apply today.

"Culture, Class, Revolution and the Intellectual" was one of the courses I ultimately blew off. The early pages are promising: "Can intellectualism bridge the gap between intellectuals and reality?" I mused on September 13. "Look over last year's notes on [Raymond] Aron." The following week we read Camus' The Rebel: "in the final analysis," I wrote, "being an intellectual depends on autonomy -- but is autonomy possible? Is money a practical problem?" I was so deep.

By the following week things had, imperceptibly perhaps, started to fall apart. Underneath a few sketchy ideas about the role of art and artists in a revolutionary movement (I told you I was deep), I had written to a classmate: "I heard in the dining hall that a freshman tried to kill himself in the seventh floor men's room in Sterling Stacks last night. This is unsettling." No shit, Sherlock. The following week, underneath disjointed scribbles about C. Wright Mills ("the activist intellectual," "constant need for critique," etc.), I wrote: "I've got to stay awake. This class has only ten people in it, and I'm falling asleep, about to embarrass myself. Three girls across the table are doing it too -- one was really asleep for a while." And later: "She's done it again. I'm going to sleep, and it doesn't help that the two girls next to her are yawning quite a bit. How embarrassing."

Reading this ancient notebook, I was identifying entirely with the instructor, who I have to tell you, I do not remember at all. But she was a woman, teaching at Yale when there were almost no women teaching at Yale -- I probably took courses from all of them, in fact. Dear God. What a monstrous little bastard I was. I turned the page to the following week's session.

"Proposed Camp for Deposed Dictators," I had written at the top of the page, not even bothering to note what the reading assignment was -- had I done it? "Campers: Shah of Iran, Idi Amin, Somosa, Richard Nixon. Games campers will not be allowed to play: capture the flag, Monopoly. Books campers will not be allowed to read: How To Be Your Own Best Friend, The Good Soldier, Mad Magazine, Look Back in Anger. Required Reading: You Can't Go Home Again." Once an English major, always......

Oh, what a card I was. Two weeks later, I had clearly stopped listening in any meaningful way. Sketches of beatniks, gerbils and people throwing up alternated with the New York Times crossword puzzle carefully pasted into the notebook. Looking up occasionally with a feigned frown, I hoped to appear serious, present and engaged as I did battle with Eugene T. Maleska -- in pen, thank you very much, just to prove how much confidence I had in my own brilliance, despite the fact that I was now learning nothing. Oh sure, there were occasional, feeble stabs at being engaged with the course. "For next week read How Much to Catalonia (?????)," and a page of notes labeled "preparation for oral report on Bakunin" (I gave an oral report on Bakunin?) The notebook ends in mid-December with a crude cartoon of a prisoner in a cage saying: "Help! I am trapped in this class and I almost laugh all the time it is so silly!"

Lucky for this professor that a semester must, eventually, come to an end, eh? And how lucky that this was prior to the routine use of teaching evaluations. And yet, having carefully documented all my misbehavior as if it was a rational response to her poor teaching, I don't recall the professor ever treating me with the disrespect I clearly deserved, calling me out from behind the crossword puzzle, or taking revenge of any kind. Maybe she knew she wasn't teaching well, or maybe there was more of a laconic attitude towards seminar work among Oligarch undergraduates than I recall and there was nothing she could do as we withdrew singly and as a group. Maybe the deadening, tortuous pace of this class was not something she felt she had much power over. Who knows?

Strangely, a quick look at my Oligarch transcript, also in the box, shows an A- for the course. Must have been the oral report on Bakunin.

As I say, I don't remember this professor at all, which in a way is truly horrifying -- only her last name survives on the outside of the notebook. If she remembers me, and wants to report me to RYS in an ex post facto kind of way, I think it would be fair. But I would like to close by remembering, very briefly, another class that I blew off: the first gay and lesbian studies course I ever took, taught by a famous gay poet, who we queer students all admired because he was handsome and witty and smart, was publicly involved with another famous gay poet, and appeared to be having the romantically perfect intellectual life that we all craved. Inexplicably however, or at least inexplicably to the youthful me, I did all the reading for this course but could sometimes not bring myself to actually go to class for a week or so at a time. Now, of course, it seems very clear that I was more than a little conflicted about my own sexuality, blah, blah, blah; and what that had to do with me taking the class in the first place, blah, blah, blah. But I worked very hard to compartmentalize that knowledge then because it would have interfered with my pose, which relied for its effect on a feigned indifference to the emotions and responsibilities felt by ordinary, boring people; my biting, sarcastic wit; and what I (tragically funny this) believed was my intellectual uniqueness.

At one point, when I had missed about two weeks of classes in a row, I ran into my professor on the street.

"Sorry I haven't been in class," I said in what I thought was a sophisticated and nonchalant way, "I've been very ill." This professor, to my surprise and horror, turned around and fell into step with me, thus enhancing my discomfort. He encouraged me to talk in detail about the illness that had kept me home from class, day after day, and yet left me free to roam the streets only an hour or so after the most recent meeting. Quickly regaining my composure, I drew on some details of illnesses that I was, in fact, regularly plagued by, hinted at the possibility of a walking pneumonia, trips for chest x-rays and what have you. The more I talked about it, the more convinced I was that I had pulled myself back from the brink and was, in fact, on my way home from another tiring trip to Radiology.

"Hmmm," he said, and stopped walking. "Well, let me give you a piece of advice. I don't mind if you lie to me about why you aren't coming to class. I expect it, really. But don't lie to yourself. That's a very bad habit to get into. See you next week." And then he walked away, leaving a rather stunned and humiliated me behind. I didn't miss any more classes.

I suppose there should be a moral to this story, but I don't think there is: it's probably unwise to draw morals from partly digested snippets of one's own life anyway. Speaking bluntly to students as if they were adults doesn't always work, which I know better than anyone. In fact, it almost never works, because we are often speaking about something important that only time can reveal to them. But I do wonder about the motivations of those who convert their classroom experience to raging, mean, (often hilarious, I admit) posts on Rate Your Students. Often we have no idea what is going on behind the facades erected by students who use politeness and good behavior to fend us off while they collect their average or better than average grades. But we might learn something about good teaching from the students who fail, the ones who go out of their way to flout our authority. Or at the very least, we might see their rudeness as an opportunity to teach to more than the text once in a while. And if we understand their arrogance, their bravado, their selfishness, their narcissism and their cluelessness as critique or resistance, we might even gain some insight as to what we have at stake in our role as classroom authorities in the first place.


Anonymous said...

Wow--you are really admirably honest in this post. (By the way, it's RYS, not RMS.) I feel the same way you do about RYS--I read it, but I don't brag about it. I should note: I have linked to RYS a few times in the last semester, but only to posts that make fun of the MLA and AHA conferences, grad students, and faculty members--never to their posts mocking out undergraduate students. (I also never write about my own students in negative ways because it would be a violation of their trust.)

Your very funny, very recognizable student "type" as an Oligarch undergrad may embolden me to confess my idiocy and self-centeredness as an undergraduate. Quite embarassingly, I actually CRIED in a professor's office over a B+ on an English essay. ((Cringe)) And to make it worse, this woman is now a regular book reviewer on a program I'm sure most of your readers listen to all of the time. So everytime I hear her smart, funny, witty reviews of books I'm sure I would enjoy just as much as she did, I'm reminded of what a world-class ass I was as an undergraduate.

But now I've confessed too much.

GayProf said...

I like this post.

I knew of RYS, but had not stopped by in a very long time (Until our common hero HistoriAnn linked some stories). While I understand (or think that I understand) the exaggerated tone of the contributors, RYS feels just a little too dark and angry for me (Which, given my own "snark," means it must be pretty darn dark).

And, if we are turning this post into a confessional, I also cringe at some of my bad behavior as an undergraduate. Indeed, I would have probably dropped many of the classes that I teach now ("Grades on Participation? An oral presentation?" I would have asked incredulously,"No way -- I'm out of here."). There was also an Anthro class where a friend of mine and I sat in the back swapping jokes throughout the lecture. We won't even begin to talk about my disastrous flirtation with Russian. . .

Bardiac said...

I don't much read RYS; I see too many of my own failings. Yes, I get frustrated by my students sometimes for the very same things, but their failings are very familiar to me, alas.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Sigh. I skipped enough classes - and *fell asleep* in enough classes - to deserve every single
student's failure to turn in work or show up to class that I get. I consider it karmic.

But most of my problem was not getting a decent amount of sleep. West Co was a noisy place until about 2am. I will add, however, that a disproportionate number of Wesleyan faculty seemed to like to lecture for the entire period...

John McKenzie said...

My personal undergraduate worst was showing up once every two weeks or so to a 5-days-a-week lower-level Spanish course (part of the foreign language requirement for my degree), earning approximately a B average on all of the assignments anyway, but realizing I would fail the class because of the mandatory attendance policy. I went to the professor and basically insisted "I cannot fail this class." Oh yes I could.

Only class anytime in my academic career that I failed or even came close to failing. As a result, I'm now pretty lax about attendance policies with my own students.

Dr. Crazy said...

I nodded in recognition as I read your tale of saying you were Deathly Ill. I told a similar tale after missing required Great Books class (yes, required for my major, and yes, at the time I knew I wanted to go to graduate school in English) for two full weeks. In my case, I claimed I had mono to what I realize now was a totally exploited adjunct teaching a 60-student course with no TA. He looked at me with concern, told me I looked horrible (which did perturb me slightly, since I wasn't at all sick) and allowed me to turn in a paper I'd blown off and to receive full credit in spite of the fact that I blew it off and didn't ask for an extension in advance. Little jerk that I was, I guiltlessly congratulated myself for getting away with it.

So yes, I was a total jerk in this and in other instances. The thing that gets me about RYS is that the posts seem to indicate that when a student does something like that it is *personal* - a personal attack on the professor. I don't see how that response is so much more mature than when a student thinks that a professor "personally" hates them when they give them a C. I periodically give a speech to my students in which I tell them that I do not spend my time thinking about them and ways to make them miserable. I grade their papers and then I totally forget about what I've read. Because it's my job, not my life, and it's not personal. Students don't lie about missing class, turn in plagiarized work, or grade-grub because they want to make us angry or to get us riled up. Sure, they want to do well, but they do not see their life's work as being about making their professors angry or miserable. They're just not thinking about us at all when they do that stuff. They're absorbed in their own problems. And so when I read RYS, I most often find it depressing more than funny, and what payoff there is from identifying with one post or another is outweighed by the disgust I feel at myself for giving into that feeling.

At any rate, though, this was a great post TR. Maybe all students are jerks at one point or another? Maybe that's part of being a student in a really important way?

Dr. Rural said...

Great post!

I fell asleep virtually every day in History 101 (Western Civ), despite the fact that it was taught by a world-class scholar and engaging lecturer. What can I say? It was an early class in an overheated auditorium, and I had a job that kept me up till 2 a.m. three nights a week.

If he noticed me at all, he probably thought "Lazy slacker!" (He couldn't have known that in the afternoons, when I finally woke up, I pored over the readings in fascination.) I'm pretty sure he never thought "Hey! I bet she gets a Ph.D in history some day!"

moria said...

RYS makes me sick. Academics are narcissistic shitheads, so much of the time, and I just completely refuse to become one of them. That said, I can't not read it occasionally, and it does provide a good lesson in how not to be a narcissistic shithead.

More importantly: the Radical was an English major? Who took courses on Spenser and Shakespeare with Maureen Quilligan back in the day? How did I not know this about you?

Anonymous said...

I don't care for RYS because it seems to be a fatal stap on a slippery slope: that is, if you can't find any way to respect your students, with whom you spend a fair amount of time both in the classroom and in your thoughts, you will poison your professional life. That said, I don't think it is quite fair to put the responsibiity for teaching life lessons so squarely on the back of the professor. It would be, if professors truly operated with autonomy and there weren't some administrator standing above the professor ready to disable that life lesson at the slightest complaint or threat from the student. This seems to me to be a regular theme of RYS: the professors who are actually envolved in enforcing life lessons as part of their courses are constantly undercut by administrators who either can't be bothered or have their eyes on a quite different bottom line.

BlogSloth said...

I worked as an RN before I became an English prof. I carry the same values. It sucks to be a patient, I reminded myself every day, through a lot of craziness and so on.

Well, I used to be 18 once. It's a blur of misunderstandings. I've, unfortunately, done more ignorant things than my students. Skip class, show up hungover, lost my scholarship due to behavior problems, twice, etc, etc. The whole list.

Then I changed.

Nothing annoys me more than the Comp profs who read student essay excerpts out loud to other profs. "Can you belive the student thought Madonna of the Madonna/whore complex was Madonna the singer?"

HA, ha, ha...

Uh, yes I can.

And ridiculing a student? Unprofessional, a lack of empathy (or memory), just plain mean.

We need a nursing perspective to our students. A professional nurse: rigorous, not playing around, whatever procedure a nurse needs to do--it's getting done. The teaching gets done. But with empathy. Empathy.

my 2.4 cents

Anonymous said...

First off, websites like Rate My Professor or its student counterpart or other college humour website have to be looked at with a grain of salt, as the comments are likely to be from some shill professor rating himself or flaming non-student.

Secondly, I am a fan of your blog, having attended Wes in 1975 and I recognize myself in that privileged student facade that you illustrate. Freshman year was not my most sterling moment, the only thing I was quite sure of when descending or ascending Foss Hill was that I did not quite know where I was going.

jean frankel tries to murder me of ideas for action llc said...

New School Professor Louise Tilly Fails Russian

Friday, April 24, 2009
Vladyko Theodore Grrew Up in Tsar Nicholas Palace Old Russia

His grave site is here in West Milford and I try to visit his grave often as possible.

In Orthodox Christian Churches worldwide, it is well documented that many years ago when president of Peugeot Oil Company in France was still alive; he wrote his will. After passing away, in his will he designated Vladyko Theodore that you see in the photo above, to undertake his funeral services. This was when Vladyko Theodore was a much younger man; my story can be verified.

Vladyko Theodore who was not in France at the time of his death, came thereto as wishes in the will revealed. There were several close relatives and friends at the funeral services witnessesing this, then.

Vladyko Theodore as I am told walked into a room where the dead man laid closing the door.

After about an hour of praying in the room alone, Vladyko Theodore walked out with the formerly dead president of the aforementioned oil company alive (the man walked out with VLadyko Theodore ALLIVE, in other words).

The variant persons waiting outside the door claim to have seen an ’uncreated light’ emanating from the room in which Vladyko Theodore prayed with the dead man; from whence the light emerged it is unknown.

This is only one of the many miracles Vladyko Theodore is known for.

Before Romanov family in Russia was executed by the Bolshevik’s, Empress Alexandra gave to Vladyko Theodore (+), the beard of Saint Seraphum of Sarov.

It was in his possession until he passed it onto a monastic order of monks in Texas in the United States before the year 2000.

Moreover, we here in West Milford, NJ had an Orthodox Christian priest join us from England. His name was, Father Alban; he recently passed on.

He had worked for England’s police force; he had his leg/s amputated (I don’t remember now if both were amputated or merely one).

Notwithstanding, before he came to stay at the Holy Name Abbey in West Milford NJ where I attend church, he was scheduled in England for surgery; he had prostate cancer. The evening prior to his surgery, he claims Vladyko Theodore (who had long since passed away) came to him in a vision telling him his cancer would be cured, but he would have to pray harder for God to cure his Kisney damage (I am unsure what this meant-pray harder) but this is whereby he explained to me his story.

The next morning he went to the hosptial in England where he was scheduled for cancer surgery. Upon entering the hospital, he asked the doctors to re-examine him to see if he still had prostate cancer; the doctors replied ”this is ridiculous, of course you still have cancer...”

After strongly insisting, the doctor’s re-examined him and they were astounded to discover his cancer was truely gone.

More true stories about my former spiritual father soon.

Louise Tilly at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, failed me in my required class ”historiography” doing all she could to forbid me in writing my paper on the subject of Russian royalty, God and/or Vladyko Theodore (she herself was a self proclaimed feminine Marxist).

She could NEVER have herself, found these amazing historical facts on the Russian Romanov family from other primary sources than myself really becuse most have died. You’d think she’d be interested in the subject; not so!

I am one of the only American women ever possessing historical primary resources on the Romanov family from Vladyo Theodore and also from my lady friend whose father was for a short time before he was assasinated, the King of Serbia.

Liljana Piper is a former Serbian Duchess and her and her family used to live at the Holy Name Abbey in West Milford for about 25 years. They recently returned to Serbia after becomming American citizens.

I am very sad because Liljana has cancer now and is very ill. I always wanted to see her again; she is like a mother to me. I don’t have funds to visit her in Beograd.

She married Serbia’s most famous football / soccer player, Branko Piper who is in the World ALmanac for managing to keep the same soccer position for the longest time of anyone in the world.

I met a man whose nickname was, ”LaAstBaron” when I used to go on the Prodigy chatrooms.

He was a Hungarian Baron; last in his line of sucession he informed me. He now works in diplomatic capacity at a Hungarian Embassy in the Consul section. I have not spoken with him in many years.

He came to visit with me when I lived in Newfoundland NJ off Route 23 Nrth by Oak Ridge Road. He was engaged to a Serbian woman at the time.

He came to visit for the purpose of my introducing him to my freind Liljana Piper (her maiden name was Voyonivoc-I cannot spell it correctly now please forgive me).

They wanted to meet and discuss the ousting of the monarchy in their respective countries and also chat about the rich history shared between their two respective countries (Hungary and Yugoslavia).

It was like Camelot.

You should have been there when the Hungarian Baron knelt before Liljana, kissing her hand and both of them after so many years of tensions between Hungary and Yugoslavia resolved so many differences and became friends.

I am hnoored to have been a part of that meeting.

’Last Baron’ I meant. Sorry I mispelled.

He lived in Staten Island; this is a fe verifiable verity.
Posted by lpcyusa at 10:57 AM 0 comments
Re: Civil Rights Case# 02-99-2132

Office for Civil Rights & US Dept. of Education (District II / NY)
Mr. John Carroll
75 Park Place
New York, NY 10007

Jill L Starr
PO BOX 635
Newfoundland NJ 07435

Re: Civil Rights Case# 02-99-2132

Dear Mr. Carroll,
I am writing you concerning a matter of grave and immanent importance regarding my Appeal on Civil Rights Case #02-99-2132.
As you may be aware, I was granted an extension of time by the New School for Social Research to satisfy the incomplete grade in the course entitled Political Development taught by Professor Adamantia Pollis which I was forced to accept an incomplete grade in last Spring 1999. The extension granted to me gives me until mid-May 2000 to complete the paper which is the principle requirement for this course.

In order to complete this paper I need to consult with Professor Pollis, and also have access to the New School University Library which has been denied me in spite of repeated requests to allow me access to this and other necessary New School facilities.
It may be of further interest to note, that I am currently on a medical leave of absence from the University that I currency attend. Hence, I wish to seek a further extension of the deadline for completion of this course.

I have attempted to contact all of the administrators of the New School for Social Research involved in my Civil Rights Case# 02-99-2132 including Nancy Shealy (Political Science Dept. Secretary) who has repeatedly hung up on my telephone calls on all occasions to the school which have all been without success.
Furthermore, the New School administration had assured me that I would be granted access to necessary library and other facilities if I contacted the New School VP of Student Affairs Ms. Linda Reimer who would arrange for security guards to accompany me.
Needless to say this has caused me to suffer grave emotional consequences. VP Linda Reimer has persistantly refused for the last six months to honor this and other New School agreements concerning the aforementioned.

If the New School persists in this refusal to honor its own agreements, I think it is only fair that they should immediately grant me a monetary refund for the tuition I paid for Professor Pollis’s Political Development course ASAP.
I can supply strong evidence to support these assertions and I would appreciate your earliest attention to this matter. Thanking you in advance for your gracious help. I remain

Respectfully Yours,

Miss Jill Louise Starr
(973) 208-8372
Posted by lpcyusa at 10:17 AM 0 comments

This is my original letter pleading to complete my education to pay off my student loans; I defaulted having my social security garnished now


I am requesting a formal hearing by the New School University Wide Committee on Harassment. I have filed numerous and grave discriminatory harassment complaints against certain New School Graduate Faculty Officials as well as professors. My complaints have not been appropriately dealt with or resolved in either an honest or a moral manner by New School Graduate Faculty members as far as I am concerned. Furthermore, Eliza Nichols, the very first person against whom I filed an initial complaint against for her emotionally abusive behavior directed at me on March 30th, 1999, (as Dean McIntyre is well aware of), is in a DIRECT “conflict of interest” when it comes to dealing with any other complaints that I may have filed. She should neither be meddling nor partaking in my legal New School complaint mediation process, unless, it concerns the complaint that I filed against her. I am a State of NJ Certified Court Mediator so I familiar with these issues. Eliza presumably is one of

the few persons who Dean McIntyre seems to be dealing with (see the CC on his

letters, which bar me from future studies at the New School, dated May 29 1999).

I allege that certain New School Graduate Faculty Department Officials have been impeding, and with malicious intent, my:

graduating from the New School for Social Research which was supposed to take place this past week.
Registering for any class given at the New School Universityregardless of either a) the division, or b) even if I have the cold cash to pay for classes by myself. This is explicit and direct, Discriminatory Harassment! These are VERY serious Civil Right violations that have been committed directly against me by many New School Graduate Faculty Members and I want them seriously investigated. I further allege:
Professor Louise Tilly gave me a bad grade of a C- last semester
Fall 1998) due to her discriminating against me for my strong belief in

God. I allege Professor Tilly clearly disdains my Orthodox

Christian Faith. Her assistant professor was an atheist man from Iran. I have both Atheist and Human Secularist friends. I never encountered any

such a problems prior either in or out of university settings before I took,

Professor Tilly’s historiography class last semester. All one needs to do is to view a few of the copy written works written by Charles and Louise Tilly to clearly see their seemingly clear distaste for religion in general. In one such work that I ironically read for another class there were quotes from Mr. and Mrs. Tilly, on religion. It went something like this: ‘religion must be destroyed because it is the opiate of the people and also it impedes Marxist-Communist Revolutions.’ I also allege that Professor Tilly does not have the historical background and/or knowledge necessary for grading pre-Revolutionary Theological Orthodox Christian Historical sources to enable her to grade my historiography paper on Empress Aleksandra from the, Fall 1998 semester.

I am a member of the Int’l Romanov Society. The Orthodox Christian Church is prepared to support my case against Ms. Tilly. Various Church members and even Archbishop have seen Professor Tilly’s comments on my paper. They also have seen the manner in which Professor Tilly revised my Orthodox Christian Theological

sources which were in quotes in my paper. The Church will be my witness

against Ms. Tilly at this hearing that I am now requesting! To me, what

Professor Tilly has done even worse than pure plagiarism! I have a copy

of the paper here. Almost all her corrections are either “crossing directly

through my religious references to God/religion”, and/or revising the meaning of my theological sources entirely. This is not acceptable behavior from a New School Professor. As for Professor Tilly’s own complaints about the “formatting” of the paper. Ms.Tilly readily admits to having lost my original paper. I therefore had to give her a rough draft of an old paper from last semester. Luckily I had left after I had a hard disk crash left year.

Therefore is Professor Tilly is displeased with my formatting, it is her own fault since she admits to printing this rough draft from an e-mail attachment herself! I have proof here. I also have a note here from Ms. Louise Tilly indicating that she would be happy to allow me to “revise” the paper. However, the Orthodox Christian Church and I both agree that the substance of the paper should remain as is. It is important for Historians to understand whereby Orthodox Christians understand and conduct “historiography.” I took the Cultural approach to historiography that President of the American Historical Association took, Lynn Hunt, in the book that I read for Ms. Tilly’s class entitled, “Telling the Truth about History.” (I have a copy Professor Tilly’s syllabus)

As for my more serious complaint against Professor Plotke. On

April 22,1999 Professor Plotke and I had a meeting to discuss my future

at the New School. David Plotke has barred my registering for: Fall 1999,

summer 1999 classes, and also any future studies at the New School. I still

am told by Dean McIntyre that Jill Starr is absolutely forbidden to so

much as take one class now or in the future at the New School for Social

Research, even, if I personally pay for a class with my own cash!

The New School has ads in both NYC Newspapers, and also Subways in NYC for students. Hence, I find it exceedingly discriminatory that Jill Starr is being told that she has not has human right to register for summer classes or any other classes at the New School University.

Back to David Plotke now: On April 22, 1999 at approximately 5-5:30pm, Professor David Plotke called me into his office and told me that I was no longer a student at the New School! I had no prior oral or written warning before David Plotke told me that I was no longer a New School student in his very emotionally abusive manner! Furthermore, I, Jill Starr, never once broke any New School rule or regulation as Dean McIntyre’s May 29th 1999 letter confirms. In this letter May 29, 1999 (I will send you the copies of it) Dean McIntyre states that he and the New School Graduate Faculty all “met”, and collectively decided to strangle and condemn to “death”, Jill Starr’s future studies at the New School for Social Research. Also, Professor and Chair of Political Science David Plokte used a “non-verbal” fighting word. I allege Mr. David Plotke came towards me in his office with a small camping knife/file on that same date and time Moreover, David Plotke on that date tried to “BRIBE ME” into accepting his so called “deal”. In David Plotke’s “deal”, he tried to verbally coerce me to accept this following “bribe” (I am truthful and it was a BRIBE!): David Plotke’s “bribery story” goes like this: ‘I David Plotke am willing to offer you (Jill Starr), a deal/BRIBE… since you are no longer welcomed to take classes at the New can accept that your future studies and any hopes for entering into the Ph.D. program are through…and Jill, if you agree to not cause me any problems (like filing complaints against David Plotke he meant to say).and you (Me) take this bribe nicely, then I, David Plotke, will read over your MA Thesis and allow you to one day graduate.’ I REFUSED TO ACCEPT DAVID’S BRIBERY! He got angry and told me to get out of his office. I went directly to the Office of Student Affairs and then I filed a formal complaint in my own hand writing (I have a copy here and it will be mailed to you certified next Tuesday after Labor Day). David Plotke is unsure as to whether my voice activated “mike was on” at the time since David also said basically, ‘Either, ‘Jill Starr accepts my deal and she

does not register for Fall l999 classes at the New School OR, she never

Graduates at all.” This is illegal behavior that David Plotke took

part in, never mind it being 100% underhanded and also unethical!

Now let me explain some of my complaint against Eliza Nicholas: Eliza Nicholas is woman whom I have a clear open and shut case against! I will prove to the world if necessary that on March 30 1999 when I met with Eliza, she was only acting as David Plotke’s, “hatchet woman” (David did not want to do the toss Jill Starr out of the New School “dirty work himself, obviously we know why. So Eliza Nicholas attempted to verbally abuse me into, and in the process of such abuse, Eliza proceeded to clearly “lie” to me (a student at the New School at the time), about New School student regulations which is a VERY, serious offence. (I am sure that you all would agree). Eliza Nicholas on March 30 1999 told me that I had no “choice”. She told me that Jill Starr MUST, take an, “indefinite leave of absence from the New School in the Fall 1999 semester.” I refused to do this! I STILL REFUSE TO DO IT!

My doctor thinks that my attending the New School is the best thingfor helping my emotional well being (minus any abusive discriminatory

harassment from any New School Officials)! Now Eliza told me that after I took this “indefinite leave of absence” in the Fall of 1999, that “you (Jill) cannot come back to the New School as a student ‘Jill IS EVALUATED BY NEW SCHOOL PSCCHIATRISTS!” Eliza also told me,’YOU MUST CHANGE YOU MEDICATIONS JILL— BEFORE YOU RETURN TO THE NEW SCHOOL!’ My doctor called Professor Adamantia Pollis about this incident and I am sure that Addie will fill you all in on the discourse between herself, and my doctor about the Eliza incident!’ My doctor fully is against this inhumane treatment directed against me by New School Professors and Officials! I have become exceedingly depressed with suicidal feeling (and increased anxiety) because of the manner in which the New School has treated my complaints! This has impaired most of my daily functions, including writing my paper this Summer for Addie Pollis! My doctor says it is absolutely absurd that Eliza demand from me (she has no authority to tell me that I am no longer a student! And as far as David Plotke goes, David can only bar me from future studies WITH THE PROVOST’S Permission (see page 63 student handbook) And this is a power that only the New School, PROVOST has that David Plotke took into his own hands by DISMISSING ME, A STUDENT ON THE SPOT on April 22, 1999! Prof. Plotke took matters into his own hands (the law into his own hands it seems when he in an extremely criminal manner to told me, Jill Starr, that I should leave the school 4-ever. Eliza also demanded that I take an immediate leave of beginning this Fall 1999. BUIT NOW: Dean McIntyre and Eliza (see letters to come via certified mail), that Jill Starr am, thrown out of the the New School Completely! This is criminal behavior and nothing more! Even my doctor states that the Fall 1999 semester is almost half a year away! She thought that I need time off this summer perhaps! I get it anyway it seems!

Then we have the grave matter of Eliza Nicholas VIOLATING MY FEDERAL HUMAN RIGHTS (US LAW)! She violated the patient - client federal confidentiality law when Eliza Nicolas, after I told her that in NO MANNER WOULD I ALLOW HER TO CALL MY DOCTOR WITHOUT MY WRITTEN CONSENT, she did it anyway! She called Dr. Charlotte Piuck and without my legal written consent to attempt to get my doctor to tell her, that “I was dangerous”. I allege that she committed this illegal and mindless Action only for the purpose of Eliza 1) trying to assist David Plotke throw me out of the New School in an emotionally abusive manner, and 2) to protect her own job because I also accused her of violating my “CIVIL RIGHTS”!

This is entirely inappropriate behavior for New School Graduate Faculty

Members to engage in! Then I have Dean McIntyre’s letters (this is

what this is a response to). I allege that Linda Reimer lied in those letter

as did Dean McIntyre. Either this, or, they do not have proper information

or memories. Also there is the grave issue of Nancy Shealy e-mailing me

to inform that “David will be away until August 1999 so not to come to

meet with him on April 22 1999.”! I complained against Nancy Shealy also

(I have copies!)Since Addie Pollis e-mailed me (I have copies),

saying that she will have no choice but to” support the New School”

in their Criminally Abusive Civil Right Violations against me..—–

—>By the way Addie, I hope that you change you mind now after you know

the FULL TRUTH!) ..........I now allege, that Professor Pollis has

rejected at least FOUR, 10-15 page term papers I submitted to her this semester as rough drafts for my completing her course requirement for the , Politics of Development. It is quite clear at this point (I have seen this before many a time over) that New School Officials are impeding my completing Addie Pollis’a class. How? They are pressuring Addie Pollis I allege and am ready to prove, not to allow me to “pass her class”. Illegal, yes, but it happens all the time!

Furthermore, Addie Pollis is a professor I have always greatly admired. Admantia Pollis and I never prior, had any problems about her “understanding my topics/papers.” In fact, Addie Pollis IS, the ONLY Professor

that I can still “somewhat respect” at the New School now. From my first

semester at the New School, Addie Pollis came to me and asked me “WHEREFORE

MY WRITING WAS SO FRAGMENTED”. (I have an attention deficit disorder, which worsens with stress)! Addie and only Anthony Pereira have attempted to accommodate my disability! David Plotke “said it is not up for discussion on April 22 1999 when he through me out of the New School!” Gee, thanks David (for nothing that is)!

In fact Addie Pollis, she has up to now always assisted me because

she knows that Jill Starr has been on permanent disability for about 9

years (SOCIAL SECURITY). Anthony Pereira was another very good professor.

I took his class Military State and Society (A PRO-SEMINAR DAVID!) in my

Fall 1997 semester at the New School. I was told by BOTH 1) David Plotke,

and 2) JIM NOLT, that later this class could perhaps be used as a pro-seminar.

There are the other 3 credits David Plotke you claim that impede

my graduation! Most every one of the University Officials whom I have filed official complaints against for they’re abusive discriminatory harassment against me should not, and this goes double for the case of Ms. Eliza Nichols who has a direct conflict of interest in my case since I have filed a formal complaint against her. Professor David Plotke suspended me from the New School and also any future studies on April 22, 1999 in an emotionally and threatening manner with no prior notice! (SEE PAGE 63 STUDENT HANDBOOK ON THE PROVOST HOLDING THATEXECUTIVE POWER PROF. PLOTKE. Any questions? Good. Please start investigations leading to a hearing in reference to my complaints right away. As for Ms. Louise Tilly who contrary to what Linda Reimer stated in her letter (see cc: to Dean McIntyre dated May 29 1999) I never met with Miss Tilly to resolve my “complaint informally.” Lies and more *amned lies! I never had a 2.2 GPA and when I came to the New School my GPA was 3.57 from previous school! Not as Dean McIntyre says it is now, a 2.2!

I not only allege that Ms. Tilly discriminated against me on 1) religiousgrounds,2)-I petition for a grade change, and 3) I still allege she has not the knowledge to grade a paper using pre-Revolutionary Russia Theological sources! I want a formal hearing about my complaints against: David, Louise, Shealy, Nicholas, and now I am bordering on suing the school in general!

Respectfully Submitted,

Jill L Starr



The opinions expressed within Virtual are not necessarily those held by Virtual
©Copyright 1999-2007 Vir
Posted by lpcyusa at 10:13 AM 0 comments
Discrimination 3 Stars 2 Comments Delicious Digg Facebook Reddit Stumble Upon Technorati Mixx Sphinn Twitter SphereIt Propeller Gmarks Newsvine Yaho


Professor Louise Tilly Formerly at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan Discriminated Against my Religious Convictions Refusing to Let Me Write a Historiography Paper on Tsarina Alexandra of Russia

Critic: THAISSA 0 - F-
Posted: 3/3/2000 11:13:47 AM 39 Hits

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That is right folks! Not only has David Plotke thrown me, Jill Starr, a permantanly disbaled student out oft he New School’s Graduate faculty Dept. of Political Science without any prior written / or oral notice on April 22 1999 for harboring “Anti-NATO views” HE DID IT AT KNIFEPOINT!! He had his swiss army knife pointed right at me as he tried to bribe me into leaving the NSSR! When I told him that “I do not accept bribery” he came at me with his pointed KNIFE”!

Louise Tilly failed me in a required class (c-) and PLotke said that my religious discrimination was “NOT UP FOR DISCUSSION”! Plotke also told me “YOU PERMANANT DISBAILITIES ARE NOT UP FOR DISCUSSION”! And I am both permanantly physically and emotionally discabled, although I managed to obtain both nationaland int’l honors before PLOTKE TOSSED ME OUT OF SCHOOL!


Press interviews are welcomed!


Louise Tilly failed me on a historiography paper on Russian Empress Alexandra which was later published by the Romanov Soiiety.

Tags: louise tilly, nssr, rotton, colleges
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1 Stars
John Jan 16 2009
Kampala, Uganda
[Regional Editor]
religious discrimination? still happens in the free world?? Amazing!
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Jill Starr
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Jill Starr members.fortunecity... Jan 23 2009
bloomingdale, United States
Unfortunately, it does still happen John.
All government’s retain some measure of control over the basics in their respective countries; one way or another.
This is whereby governments retain their power right (?)

101 political science.

Nice hearing from you -

Posted by lpcyusa at 10:06 AM 0 comments
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