Professors giving students bad grades: out. Professors suing students: in.

I’ve seen not one, but two stories today about professors suing their students. The first one involves a writing instructor at Dartmouth who appears intent on sabotaging her own academic career on the basis of, apparently, personal pique. (More here, here, here, here and here.) Bizarre… absolutely bizarre. The second, perhaps slightly more serious case involves a Little Rock law professor who is suing for defamation arising out of a racially charged controversy at UALR. Fun.

16 Responses to “Professors giving students bad grades: out. Professors suing students: in.”

  1. David K. says:

    She sues them and wishes that they have a nice day. Classy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would have preferred the Old and Busted, New Hotness meme.

  3. kcatnd says:

    http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=224976

    Apparently she was at Pasadena City College too. Check out her reviews.

  4. kcatnd says:

    Ignore my previous comment – sounds like she is a different person.

  5. Andrew says:

    Just goes to show that many in academia are there precisely because they can’t hack it in the real world — and even then, some get sufficiently rearranged by spending so much time in university settings that they can’t function normally even when in their academic environs.

  6. Andrew says:

    It just occurred to me: Is Priya Venkatesan academia’s version of Basil Fawlty?

  7. kcatnd says:

    Andrew, I generally agree with what you’re saying, but I hope you don’t mean that academia as a whole is in an ivory tower cut off from the real world. I do think Venkatesan is one of the plenty in academia who are using the university setting as a hideout from real life, though.

    And she is definitely a Basil Fawlty.

  8. copndor says:

    “Just goes to show that many in academia are there precisely because they can’t hack it in the real world — and even then, some get sufficiently rearranged by spending so much time in university settings that they can’t function normally even when in their academic environs.”

    Yes, that’s exactly what this shows. Two lawsuits demonstrate drastic conclusions about a gigantic class of people.

  9. copndor says:

    “the plenty in academia who are using the university setting as a hideout from real life”

    This is a ridiculous myth. Life in academia is hard, hard work. Anyone stupid enough to go into academia because it is a hideout from real life, is not smart enough to go into academia in the first place.

  10. kcatnd says:

    copndor, I’m referring more to the people who drift into graduate school because they don’t know what else to do, not the vast majority of academics who are very intelligent hard-working people. I don’t think what I stated is a myth, but I do think Andrew is incorrect if he is saying that “most” academics are like that.

  11. Andrew says:

    I’m not sure how “many” becomes “most”, or how describing some of these academics equates to “[demonstrating] drastic conclusions about a gigantic class of people”. copndor adds to the folly by equating hard work and intelligence with an ability to hack it in the real world. Intelligence is far from the main indicator of real-world success, so just because someone is brilliant and publishes a bunch of academic papers doesn’t mean they can get squat done in the private (or government) sector.

    In any case, kcatnd more or less captures my point when she wrote, “I’m referring more to the people who drift into graduate school because they don’t know what else to do.” And there’s not necessarily anything wrong with being unable to “hack it in the real world” — some people are built for the ivory tower, church life, etc. But in general, our culture pushes everyone to go to college and puts teachers and professors on a pedestal, when in fact most schools and universities do very little to prepare kids for the real world (how to cook healthy, how to manage finances, how to work with people, how to deliver results and make things happen, etc.). So, many people get this idea that the bubble world of academia is all they know, and since they’re good at it (i.e., get good grades and earn praise from professors), they should keep doing it (i.e., get more degrees and climb the university ranks), and sometimes the result is that there are occasional situations in which “some get sufficiently rearranged by spending so much time in university settings that they can’t function normally even when in their academic environs.” Exhibit A: Priya Venkatesan.

  12. copndor says:

    If someone can make $100,000 a year studying dark matter, or $80,000 a year teaching Kant’s First Critique, I fail to see why that doesn’t count as “hacking it in the real world.”

  13. Andrew says:

    Obviously I am using precise, scientific terms like “hacking it in the real world”. Guilty as charged. You obviously got the gist my point, stop nitpicking at the edges.

  14. copndor says:

    As for this so-called phenomena of people putting off the so-called “real world” by going into graduate school, I’ve never met anyone who has ever gone into graduate school for that reason.

    Still, supposing such people exist, I fail to see how spending a few years getting a masters degree is any worse than getting a lower-rung business job that you hate (which has been the experience of many of my college comrades) or else hanging out in your parents basement figuring out what you want to do (the choice of a few of my college comrades).

  15. Andrew says:

    copndor, what kind of cave do you live in?

    I knew a number of my peers in college who were sticking around and getting graduate degrees because they had either no desire to enter the workforce or simply didn’t know what to do beyond more school (it can be hard to break a pattern that starts from age 5 or younger and carries through to age 22-24). I know of a subset of those folks who are still in academia racking up degrees, putting off that decision of what to actually do with their lives, and I have known professors from this category who have admitted they got to where they are more or less because it was the only thing they knew and they were good at it.

    All of these are categorically separate from yet another group who decided, “I want to be a professor of [fill in the blank] someday” and set out to earn their PhDs.

    Seriously, I can’t be pulling stuff out from too deep up my ass if even kcatnd agrees with some of what I’m saying. Come back to Planet Earth, man.

  16. copndor says:

    Ok. According to Andrew, I both live in a cave and on another planet. Heh.

    Meanwhile, apparently he disagrees with nothing that I’ve said. I said I don’t know anyone who fits the bill of this class of folks going into grad. school to “put off the real world.” He says they exist. I suppose in my post that they do exist, and say that if they do, it’s no worse than taking up a lower-rung business job that one hates (which surely a larger number of college graduates do). He offers no reply, and calls names. Well done.