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Workplace Violence in the Academy: Hilarious

May 8, 2010

Today the Syracuse Post-Standard reported an incidence of workplace violence in the English Department at Onondaga Community College.

How? Well…

“In the recent case of a harassment charge against an Onondaga Community College English professor… the detailed, eloquent statements given to campus security officers by three English Ph.D.s rose to high drama.

The statements properly deploy semi-colons and are filled with flowery phrases such as, ‘Stunned, I proceeded past the threshold of my door.’ To do justice to these statements, and to give a nod to a department that teaches Shakespeare, we present this story as a one-act play.”

Wow. Uh, okay. So the writers at the Post-Standard are trying to get a rise out of readership for the bazillionth time. This time, it’s by making light of a harassment charge while poking fun of folks with Ph.D.’s (or “Ph.D.s”) and the local community college.

The local paper (at the very least, a journalist and an editor or two) decided it would be funny to crack jokes about people whose speech (when transcribed by a court reporter, who may not have a Ph.D.) involves the use of semi-colons, and multi-syllabic flourishes, er, phrases that done used the big words.

Has anyone out there read the Post-Standard lately? Can anyone figure out why it still (barely) exists?

Aside from the obvious snark above, I’d like to point out that this completely over-the-top article fits nicely into an existing pattern of demonizing educators, and downplaying the value of education.

Public schools across America are seemingly under attack from all sides. In addition to harsh spending cuts at the K-12 level, public higher education in New York (SUNY) has dealt with$424 million in cuts during the past 2 years, and OCC faculty join colleagues across the state at risk of being furloughed.

In other words, it’s pretty demoralizing working in public education these days. Watching the local newspaper mock poor working conditions with allusions to pretty-talking, fancy-panted English professors at the local community college gives a pretty good indication of how bad things are.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Maud permalink
    May 10, 2010 1:42 pm

    Damn, that’s sad. I remember a time when journalists took a certain pride in their excellence in using language. And funnily enough, that was when many of them didn’t have college degrees. Now, having all graduated with degrees in journalism seems to have qualified them to sneer at both educators and the use of what they apparently see as formal language. They must be thinking, “If a fool like me can have a college degree, the process can’t be worth much.”

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