Fuming Mad  

Just about once every semester, something happens at my college that makes me fume.

The issue is often connected to some sort of decision coming down from administration. At times it’s about our department or division, at times it concerns the union, and at times it affects parts of college tangential to my role but that connect with the overall mission of the college. The issue is always related to something I cannot control.

Over the years, the incidents and their resolutions, which are often a lack of resolution, have affected faculty morale at the college. The problem often shows me a way that I don’t “fit” with the college or the way it does things. People who can let the issue role off their back or who accept how the college is run fare better.


One issue I struggle with quite a bit is how the college has extended enrollment. Students can register for class up to a week after the class has started. You heard that right. I am working diligently to help my students start to get to know each other, me and the expectations of the class, and a week later a student can register and simply start week 2. If I were a teacher who mainly went over the syllabus with my class and assigned some homework this first week, this would likely not be a problem. I know that for most of my students and for me, starting off focusing on the relationships between students, instructor and class works well.

Granted, students registering after a full week is relatively rare. With 5 classes of 20 students, I likely have 1-2 register a week late. More register just 1 class period late (half a week)—and then I have a handful of students who had registered not show up day 1 or 2. All in all, I have between 2 and 5 students per class miss day 1. One of my classes is online, so out of the 4 in-person classes, between 8 and 12 students (out of 80 total) have missed the first day or days. To me, this is a more significant number.

Years ago, the college collected data and determined that students who register late don’t complete courses to the degree that students who registered on time do. This leads me to believe that student success isn’t the reason for the delayed registration. I believe one reason is money. I have thought of asking for data on how many students register late per semester and how many credit hours they take. From there I could figure out how much money the college is gaining from those students. I haven’t asked for that data. I also am guessing that allowing students to register late may create some ease for the deans. Students used to be able to add our classes late, but they had to go through our dean. Since the deans are supervisors for many instructors, it likely this took some time. Truthfully, I have not looked into the reasons for late registration further. If I did I’d likely find out more reasons—at least reasons the college was willing to share.


Another issue that came up recently was that I had a student withdrawn from my class without notification. In short, the student got into a fight at school (in another class), the college reached out to me to ask for information on him. They also asked me to point him out to security so they could tell him he wasn’t allowed on campus as the issue was being looked into. Despite me having complied with the college’s requests regarding the student, the first time the college notified me of any issue in writing (or verbally for that matter) is after Student Services made the decision to expel him from campus for this semester. I’m mainly frustrated about how my and my class’ relationship with the student who was ultimately expelled wasn’t considered important enough to include me in the communication during the process. I did reach out to the student and let him know that he had a positive impact on our class and that we’d miss him. I’m grateful I had his phone number as he’d likely not have checked email after being withdrawn.

Over the years, I have spoken out about the concerns I have had with policies, I’ve worked with my department to go through proper channels to state concerns. I’ve been part of committees that have worked to solve problems, only to see policies put in place that have nothing to do with our recommendations. The work seems endless and it feels faculty’s voices are not heard.

More and more I see the power structures in my college and I realize that though I have some of the most intense contact with the students, I have the least amount of power to make larger change. I have to work within the new constraints put upon me and with less support given to me to create a valuable experience for students, and I still do it. I still create an environment where students and I learn and grow together.

The struggle is life-draining though, and I have found other organizations where my voice is heard and I can impact change. This is something I will factor in when deciding whether or not to leave full-time work at my college when I’m first eligible to retire.

Peace Out (and In),





  • Margo

    How continually frustrating, Julie! I’m sorry that you have to put up with the bullshit. Your students are lucky to have you!!

    • Julie

      I think the hardest part, Margo, is that it doesn’t have to be like that. I wonder if my school’s leaders are happy with how things are going or if they don’t know how to do things differently.

      Yes, the continuality is what wears me down.

  • JMFL

    Anger being the result of powerlessness and this causing you to feel that you don’t fit really resonates with me. Thanks for sharing your frustrations.

  • Deb Snyder

    When I retired, politics was the first thing I truly did not miss about work! I appreciate that I can choose what I do with my time. If politics makes me uncomfortable as I volunteer in retirement, I just leave and find something else to do. I understand your frustration. This too shall pass!

    Your students are so blessed to have a teacher who cares enough to want a real relationship with them.

    • Julie

      Thanks, Deb! Sometimes I wonder what people mean by the politics of it all–now I think I get it.

      It is power to be able to do what you like! I love that you use it.

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