More academics using trivial excuses to avoid marking

June 12, 2008

Rising numbers of Poppleton academics are avoiding their full marking load by claiming that mitigating circumstances marred their capacity to mark. According to our ever-expanding Human Resources Department, more than 94 per cent of all staff cite special circumstances to excuse their shortcomings. Three-quarters name "domestic reasons". Specific examples include "tied up with divorce lawyer", "change of gender orientation" and "youngest daughter abducted".

Also popular is the "Piercemuller gambit" in which failure to mark is attributed to the non-arrival of scripts at an esoteric location, and "Freud's Kettle" in which three conflicting reasons are cited (I never agreed to mark these scripts, the scripts got lost in transit, and I left the marked scripts in the Enquiries Office).

Speaking to our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), our Corporate Director of Human Resources, Louise Bimpson, said "there should be a change of approach whereby academics understand that it is normal to experience problems as part of life".

Rising numbers of Poppleton academics are avoiding their full marking load by claiming that mitigating circumstances marred their capacity to mark. According to our ever-expanding Human Resources Department, more than 94 per cent of all staff cite special circumstances to excuse their shortcomings. Three-quarters name "domestic reasons". Specific examples include "tied up with divorce lawyer", "change of gender orientation" and "youngest daughter abducted".

Also popular is the "Piercemuller gambit" in which failure to mark is attributed to the non-arrival of scripts at an esoteric location, and "Freud's Kettle" in which three conflicting reasons are cited (I never agreed to mark these scripts, the scripts got lost in transit, and I left the marked scripts in the Enquiries Office).

Speaking to our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), our Corporate Director of Human Resources, Louise Bimpson, said "there should be a change of approach whereby academics understand that it is normal to experience problems as part of life".

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Sir

I was disturbed to learn that the communications director of Nottingham University, Mr Jonathan Ray, had recently complained that some academic staff can be "profoundly patronising" towards university administrators.

I do hope that such academic staff are not to be found at Poppleton. For, taking everything into consideration and speaking in a personal capacity, I would have to say that I consider our administrative staff a pretty reasonable bunch.

Obviously their background means that they are not often able to hold their own when the conversation takes a donnish turn (Maureen. Do they have degrees? Please check). But their worth is wholly evident in such vitally important peripheral areas as bookkeeping, form-filling and general maintenance duties.

Neither is it appropriate to criticise their general predilection for secrecy, sharp practice and double-dealing. These are simply characteristics that go with the job in much the same way that a capacity for higher thought is the distinguishing mark of the average academic.

Some years ago Joseph Heller (Maureen. This could have been Philip Roth. Please check) declared that a certain well-known sexual practice was not unlike coal-mining. It was, he said, dark and dangerous work but someone had to do it. It's a thought worth bearing in mind next time you're tempted to look down on a humble administrator.

Yours sincerely

Professor G. Lapping, Department of Media and Cultural Studies for Business

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

As you know, I welcome contributions to this little spot from staff. This week's effort, however, is the work of an entire department. So many thanks to everyone in Philosophy for this particular "thought".

What if the hokey cokey is really what it's all about?

ROGER AND OVER

Our Deputy Head of Student Experience, Nancy Harbinger, reacted with anger to last week's claim by Coventry University that it was first in the field with the concept of "location-independent working" in which lecturers abandon their desk in return for a headset and webcam that enables them to interact with students at all times.

She told The Poppletonian that several academics at our university were already wearing similar desk-free all-purpose wind-smart communication systems. But in addition to the headset technology provided by Coventry, they were also fitted with portable wrist-strapped sat-nav systems that allowed them to locate any student on campus within a matter of minutes.

Concerns that academics without desks might wander off campus altogether were currently being addressed in a pilot scheme in which "independent location" academics were also fitted with a lightweight ball and chain.

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