Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick Or Treat At Tenured Radical: What Will You Be Wearing?

Will you get candy -- or a rock?  Illustration hat tip.
We at Tenured Radical, normally so generous to the constituencies for whom this holiday is the apex of the year (little children, gay folk, college students) detest Halloween.  We feel foolish when we dress up.  We think candy is too expensive.  Despite the fact that we are known to consume it, we also think candy is unhealthy.  We resent the vast federal subsidies that go to an already fiscally plump sugar and corn syrup industry at a time when ordinary Americans are losing their houses and the basic requirements for living a healthy life are so difficult for the poor to access.  In 2007, the Cato Institute estimated that sugar subsidies alone would cost taxpayers $1.4 billion over a decade; and that consumers of the numerous products containing sugar would pay a $1.7 billion annual surcharge because of these price supports.  Corn, from which high fructose corn syrup is made, is the top recipient of federal subsidies, according to the Environmental Working Group, totaling almost $4 billion in 2009 alone.

And yet, despite thinking about what these dollars could accomplish for national health care, education or public transportation,  our self-righteousness falters.  We are unhappy when we think about the limits of our own politics as we turn our backs on people having fun.  We loathe ourselves as we avoid the children howling for candy on our doorstep -- children who have no health insurance, go to crappy schools and will probably have to enlist in the military to have a semi-decent life but who also just want to have a nice time one night out of the year.  Is that too friggin' much to ask?  And yes, we know that our annual Halloween donation to the American Diabetes Association is not what children consider an appropriate substitute for the pleasures of mainlining glucose that is packaged fifteen different ways.

On the other hand, we rarely stay blue for long at Tenured Radical, and we would also argue that building an entire child-centered holiday candy represents false consciousness of epic proportions.  We begin to understand why, during our over privileged suburban upbringing, cadres of stoned, vanguardist private school boys would roam the neighborhood tossing cherry bombs into pumpkins to indicate their disapproval for American capitalist investment in the sugar industry. Said pumpkins would explode in massive, pulpy orange carnage, a strategy intended to demoralize neighborhood families that would later be discovered and adopted by anti-American insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Because we are a blog that stands firmly behind non-violent strategies for change, this year at Tenured Radical we are having a virtual Halloween, in which we are giving virtual treats and tricks to virtual folk who show up in costume at our blog.  If you recognize yourself, feel free to open your bag in the comments section, or alternatively, to egg our virtual car and toilet paper our virtual trees in the comments section.

If you come to our door dressed as an adjunct instructor, you will receive:  A treat, because unfortunately you have already been tricked into thinking that, if you followed the rules and kept your nose to the grindstone, that there was a job waiting for you as a full-time university professor.  Open your bag, and we will drop inside:  a law school application (complete with a letter of recommendation from Tenured Radical -- just fill in your name at the appropriate places); a free subscription to Adjunct Nation; and a two-year site pass to The Adjunct Advocate.

If you come to our door dressed as a Zenith student activist running an anti-affirmative action bake sale, you will receive: A treat, although we can't give you a copy of Zenith's affirmative action policy, because there isn't one.  Look in your bag after you leave our door and you will find a copy of Zenith's Diversity Policy and its policy on discrimination and harassment; and a personal introduction from Tenured Radical to Morton Blackwell, the former White House Special Assistant to Ronald Reagan, conservative youth organizer and the founder of the Leadership Institute, which runs your umbrella organization, Campus Reform. You will also receive a large bag of fresh popcorn, with all the nasty burned pieces that got into your bag unfairly having been removed by our staff in advance of your visit.

If you come to our door dressed as a graduate student in the humanities going on the job market this year, you will receive:  A trick.  Laughingly maniacally, we will drop a letter-sized envelope containing a copy of your student loan repayment schedule; a post card saying that we have received your application; a credit card statement in which you will see that you have already been billed for expenses attendant to attending the conference interviews that you may or may not receive; and a brief letter stating that of the 450 qualified applicants for all the jobs you applied for, you were not hired.  That letter will be dated July 15, 2011.

If you come to our door dressed as Historiann, you will receive:  A treat!  That's right, Halloween celebrants who show up in full cowgirl garb will receive a free copy of the winter number of the Journal of Women's History, containing a round table of feminist bloggers that includes Historiann's full account and analysis of what happens when you call a really famous and very sexist historian a tool.

If you come to our door dressed as Arne Duncan, you will receive:  A Michelle Rhee action figure.  As we go to press, we are not altogether sure whether this is a trick or a treat, but perhaps we will know more after the election next Tuesday.  In any case, this temporarily unemployed icon of neo-liberal school reform is sure to be a collectible item; as a bonus, she will do test prep for your children and may be willing to pay you off to give up your tenure.

If you come to our door dressed as GayProf, you will receive:  A treat!  Leaving our doorstep, you will find (to your great delight) a set of Wonder Woman bracelets in your bag which, according to our staff research assistant Wick E. Pedia, will "balance [your] Amazon strength with loving submission to the positive aims of civilization," and help you "deflect...all manner of attack."  The bracelets are a particularly critical item for women, queer faculty and faculty of color, but may be particularly useful for all of you planning to come up for tenure, or organizing your colleagues into a group capable of collective bargaining with the institution for which you work.

If these items do not please you, head over to Legal History Blog, where Mary Dudziak is giving away copies of the Constitution.


Comrade PhysioProf said...

We only bought candy to distribute that the Physios ourselves despise, so we don't eat the fucken garbage. We will be serving perfect rye manhattans to any adults who show up with their kids.

K said...

I'm totally heading over to your house tonight! I finally legit get to dress as myself (adjunct! yey! go contingent labor!) but I have to say that the law school app is pretty worthless. The market for law students outside of the top 10, if not top 5, nay, outside of Yale or Harvard, is so bare, it makes a PhD in anything but English look like a good career move. Law jobs are pretty sweet if you can get 'em, but the thought of three more years of actually taking classes is enough to poke my eyes out.
As a substitute, I'll take a reference to a job as a janitor, because as my friend mining the BLS database informs me, there are a tad over 5000 janitors or other sanitation workers with three years or more post-baccalaureate education (she was looking up post-education employment for people with at least an MPhil, and janitor/sanitation/maintenance was a significant job category outside of what would be considered "industry" for such over-educated folks). Hey, at least I'd still get to work in a school...!

Anonymous said...

As an adjunct married to a law prof, I can say that the only thing worse than being an adjunct would be enrolling in law school in this economy. Spouse teaches at a well-regarded top-40 law school, and an alarming number of recent graduates are either unemployed or sadly underemployed. I'd rather work at Starbucks, tyvm!

Lesboprof said...

What do we get if we dress up as Tenured Radical???

Dorothy Potter Snyder said...

I will come dressed up as the young undergrad who had stars in her eyes when she arrived at the first session of a special seminar at Yale with the famous political scientist and sinologist John Bryan Starr and who, after being shamed when Starr viciously mocked her nickname in front of everyone in the very first class, remained silent for the entire rest of the course and decided that she was not tough enough for the Academy. My costume will include my gossamer freelance tutor wings, a wreath of laurels bestowed on me by my students, and my No Visible Means of Support bra.

Frederika said...

Comrade PP: A perfect rye manhattan? You people know your cocktails! That's my kind of drink.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

We don't fucke around when it comes to fucken booze!

Susan said...

Well, I give out candy, and hte leftovers go to our advisers, who stock bowls outside their offices.

But I will turn out the outside light when my book group arrives, and we will talk about life, books, food and drink....

Tenured Radical said...

Jesus, UE, the things you learn when it is too late to make a difference.

On the other hand, since there are no jobs and you support yourself, you could always go back.....

CPP, if I knew where your house was, I would definitely show up.

moria said...

Lesboprof, based on my own experience (anecdata ahoy!), there are at least three Zenith students asking themselves that very question. TR, you have a Halloween culture of your own. And you are the second most successful Zenith-student-as-Zenith-faculty-member costume I have ever seen. Congratulations.

Brian W. Ogilvie said...

CPP: where do you live? And can I get that manhattan if I come without kids?

Historiann said...

Thee manahantz were teh awesummme! Thanx, PhysioProf and PhysioWife--ur teh bestte! (I swearr I onnly had threeursix.)

(And I didn't even have to bringe a childe to teh dorr!)

Thanks, TR. But, seriously: you think what I wear around the ranch is a "costume?"

AYY said...

Zenith doesn't have an affirmative action policy? The link you provided contains the following:

"For [Zenith], diversity is not simply a matter of counting heads or targeting enrollment objectives. It is also a matter of bringing into the classroom a profound sense that diversity matters in the learning process."

Looks like Zenith has an all encompassing affirmative action policy. Seems like it covers bake sales too.

Tenured Radical said...

AYY: Typical profound conservative ignorance about affirmative action, which is *exclusively* about giving *preference* to underrepresented racial groups, women, and veterans. It also requires you to recruit such people. It was mandated by executive order in 1961 that any institution or corporation receiving federal dollars institute thsuch a policy which was then elaborated on by other executive orders in the Johnson and Nixon administrations, as well as by the 1964 civil rights acts.

A diversity policy does not require any agent of the university to take any action whatsoever, and is actually a version of what admissions offices did a version of prior to 1961, which is make up a class of people which included folks who are not necessarily underrepresented but, to put it crudely, *interesting,* such as, say, a gay teen from Ecuador who has written a memoir about life on the street. But there are no recruiting or admissions targets.

If Zenith had affirmative action, for example, we would have a population of Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans, which by law we would have had to recruit and admit. We do not. A diversity policy evades affirmative action completely, and permitting the institution to overlook the lower GPA's and SAT/ACT scores of men in its assumption that a truly diverse institution will not be overwhelmingly female.

Knitting Clio said...

I live in Collinsville, CT, home of the Yankee Magazine endorsed annual Halloween parade, featuring a scream contest, belly dancers, and African drum circles. I dressed up in a witch costume I got half price at Joann's fabrics. I forgot to bring an ironic sign making fun of Christine O'Donnell though.

AYY said...

TR, so you're saying it's not an affirmative action policy because Zenith doesn't particularly want war vets? Hmm. I'm glad the vets have at least one supporter in the faculty.

Anyway we need to have fidelity to the text, no? As I read the text it talks about "counting heads" and "targeting enrollment objectives" and then it uses the word "also" when it talks about bringing it into the classroom.

And then you put scare quotes around
"preferences". But that's what they are, as you seem to acknowledge in the rest of your response. So maybe the bake sale preferences are really just "preferences."

And BTW, those who are opposed to affirmative action aren't the ones giving the "preferences" to men with low test scores, although one has to wonder if the applicant pool of men applying to Zenith is as less qualified as the pool of women, as you seem to imply. It's the admissions officers, and the college administrators who are giving the preferences. I suppose if you look long enough you could find one of two conservatives among them, but it would take a while.

Tenured Radical said...

AYY; in the interest of fidelity to the text, it says the diversity policy *isn't* about counting heads and targeting enrollment objectives.

Stop wasting our time with misrepresentations. It's douchey and pompous.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

TR, do you have a policy that commenters use a consistent handle when they post? I ask because there seems to be a pattern of people commenting under more than one handle on different (and sometimes even the same) posts that sound like they are subject to exactly the same right-wing delusions and adopt exactly the same "gotcha" attitude coupled with exactly the same willfully poor reading comprehension. Or maybe this is just a coincidence.

Alan Trevithick said...

Hah Ha in re adjunct comment-frankly you make all adjuncts and contingents sound like morons. Is that your actual approach? I, like lots of people who are displacing trad faculty, am teaching as an adjunct because that's the only job I can get-I am not keeping in some delusive way my nose to the grindstone, blah, blah, blah.
Your analysis and your sense of humor need work. Please look at for some real information and analysis, and by the way, our cartoons are actually amusing,. Cheers, Alan Trevithick

Tenured Radical said...

Alan, I'm sorry you feel that way. I think it is a misreading, but whatever. You are entitled to it I guess.

AYY said...

Actually it says "simply" after isn't which seems to mean that it is about counting heads but isn't limited to it. As far as "misrepresentaions", you might want to see this from Phi Beta Cons:

"Well, this is awkward. In the wake of an affirmative-action bake sale hosted by the campus conservative club, the Wesleyan University admissions office swore up and down that the school doesn’t have an affirmative-action policy — but now, a large number of the Wesleyan faculty have written in to Wesleyan’s campus paper, the Wesleyan Argus, to defend the practice of affirmative action. The first few paragraphs are simply an extended history lesson on how historically justified the practice was when it was first instituted (in other words, a non sequitur), but they’re preferable to the last few paragraphs, which say absolutely nothing:

It is our understanding that Wesleyan University is committed to equal opportunity and affirmative action in keeping with federal legislation and local laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and veteran status. Wesleyan, therefore, makes concerted efforts to recruit, employ, and promote qualified members of minority groups, women, handicapped individuals and disabled veterans, and Vietnam-era veterans who qualify for the positions for which they are being considered, as is the case for all other candidates who do not fall under the groups covered by the laws.

Additionally, and importantly, Wesleyan University has a stated commitment to prevent discrimination on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression as part of a broader commitment to equal opportunity and to the promotion of a diverse campus and workforce. The University, therefore, has both an institutional responsibility to seek out the most talented people and a social obligation to further the goal of achieving equality of opportunity.

These institutional commitments have been misconstrued as a system of “racial preferences” (or worse, a “racial quota” system). We support open and honest discussion and debate about such matters, but we oppose as mere race baiting any and all efforts to scapegoat people of color among the students, faculty, staff, and administration on this campus and to undermine the University’s commitment to equal opportunity and diversity"