Today in class, my professor, who is the head of my department and a 20+ year teaching veteran, someone I greatly respect, was writing on the board, explaining a particular concept of research ethics to us. She then paused, nervously looked at her writing on the board, and then inquired to the class: “Someone at University 101 (something my university puts on) told me not to use columns when writing on the board, because it denotes hierarchy. Does anybody here have a problem with me doing that, or should I stick to this style?”

We all tittered and agreed as a class that it was absurd and stupid, and the relief on my professor’s face was absolutely palatable. My professor, mind you, is not a hard-hearted woman who doesn’t accommodate students’ needs. She gives me an extension whenever I’m having a bad autistic/brain fog day without question, keeps touch with students and alumni whom she bonded with, has won several awards for her excellent teaching, and uses the correct pronouns for her trans and genderqueer students with no questions asked or hesitations. This is not a question of a professor being insensitive, it’s a matter of a sensitive, articulate, brilliant teacher having her intelligence insulted by suggesting that she was oppressing her students by writing a certain way on the board.

If this is what I have to look forward to in academia, I best ready myself for a shower of well-intentioned crap from a particularly unusual social-justice minded set of bureaucrats.  I’m nowhere near as wonderful or patient a person as my dear professor.

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