The Only Way is Exeter

March 14, 2013

Male-dominated Exeter - Male-dominated Poppleton

Allegations that Poppleton University suffers from the same “stress-inducing” culture as recently revealed in a new internal report on life at the University of Exeter have been strenuously denied by Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs.

Targett allowed that there were “certain affinities” between the Exeter finding that major decisions were “made by a small group of people behind closed doors without consultation” and the finding in a recent Poppleton staff survey that in terms of participatory democracy, our university “was only marginally ahead of current constitutional practice in North Korea”.

It was also true, said Targett, that there were “possible parallels” between the feeling among some Exeter staff that the university was “a self-perpetuating male-dominated culture” and the Poppleton survey conclusion that our own university was “dominated by a bunch of macho cock-strutting old chauvinists who thought that women shouldn’t bother their fluffy little heads with such tough-minded matters as management”.

However, Targett insisted that this was the point where any comparison between the two institutions completely broke down. “Any fair-minded person”, he claimed, “would immediately recognise that Exeter and Poppleton are fundamentally different in that while Exeter’s stress- inducing centralised male-dominated culture has helped lift the university from 34th on average in 1990s league tables to its present position in the top 10, here at Poppleton, a rather similar culture has left us in exactly the same league position as we initially occupied.” He hoped that clarified the situation.

Student Complaints Committee Report

Date of hearing: 12 March 2013

Complainant: Ruth Cornish. Second Year Psychology

Defendant: Dr Ted Thorndike. Department of Psychology

Nature of complaint: Ms Cornish complained that since commencing Dr Thorndike’s course on Memory and Forgetting, she had submitted a total of six course essays. The internal marking of these essays had featured only three signs: a question mark, an exclamation mark or a tick. She had also received an identical mark of B minus for all six of her essays and been awarded a B minus as her final course assessment mark. Ms Cornish complained that taken together this constituted evidence of “lack of feedback”.

Defendant’s response: In his response, Dr Thorndike argued that the three signs complained of by Ms Cornish constituted perfectly adequate feedback in that they expressed serious philosophical uncertainty about what was being said (the question mark), genuine empirical alarm at what was being asserted (exclamation mark) and relative pedagogic satisfaction about what was being concluded (tick). He also drew the committee’s attention to one “Really?” that had not been mentioned by Ms Cornish in her submission.

Adjudication: Although the committee admitted that it was difficult to find concrete evidence that Dr Thorndike had ever actually read any of Ms Cornish’s work, his marking had nevertheless displayed a quite admirable consistency. In the circumstances it was decided that Ms Cornish had no grounds for complaint and that her overall mark should be reduced to B double minus.

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Next week’s special seminar on “Improving happiness in the academic workplace” will concentrate on the role of mind-altering drugs. Everybody welcome

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