So it’s lovely to hear from Notorious, and to enjoy, vicariously, the notion of a big mostly-empty office in which to work on a new(ish) project. My home study is pretty big, actually, but it’s also the site of many old projects, some of which are still pending (revisions . . . ), plus household files, and pickle dishes or their equivalent that I’m sorting out, and usually a cat or two, plus it’s my dressing room. Thus, even though I am better equipped for space than many academics, I still enjoy the fantasy of a fresh start.

What really hit me in this picture (click to enlarge), though, is the telephone.

At LRU, we’re losing our office phones. And cutting the library budget drastically. There is no travel money, though some may be pulled from some dark place for the untenured. And we are to expect further mid-year cuts, since the fall semester had to be scheduled before we knew what the budget would look like (besides dire).

It’s not that I use the phone so much. I can live without it, and I’d rather give up the phone than the monographs budget (not that that’s a choice: they’re both happening). But it’s a sign of faculty status, even tenured faculty at tolerably respectable universities. I frequently run into people in my area who went to LRU, or whose kid or nephew or cousin’s daughter goes there, and they think highly of the school and they think I have a good job. (Mostly I agree with them.) I think these people, whether they work in sales, accounting, law, nursing, programming, or office support in any of these or various other types of work, would be surprised that I no longer have an office phone. And I’m pretty sure that that’s not what they think they voted for.

6 thoughts on “Signs of the times

  1. Do they expect you to just use cell phones? Because (1) I’m not giving that to students, and (2) it doesn’t work in my office anyway.

    1. No. We’re expected to communicate electronically, and we can use phones in the department office. I may use my cell to call out, but I’ll block the number before dialing, because there is no way I’m giving my cell number to all and sundry. Let’s put it this way: I’m not worried about the ex-cons I’ve taught, because they have been great students, but I am worried about random crazies (and have you seen Leslie M-B’s “redacted” post? I don’t need that, either). Students who are “just” freaked about grades don’t display good judgment about when to call; I’m not worried about them in the same way, but I have my phone on and by me nearly all the time because my dad is 90 and if I get That Call I will be taking it. So I do not want to be getting messages from students in the small hours, because when my phone buzzes in the middle of the night my adrenaline starts pumping and my impulse is to head straight to the airport. I suppose, though LRU can’t provide cell phones, I could get a second, cheap one for work purposes, and turn it on only in work hours, but I’ll put that off and see how things go for a couple of years.

      1. If they’re not paying for the phone, they can’t make you use it, period. That said, I only use the office phone occasionally, usually (like Bardiac) to call the IT people.

  2. I wouldn’t object to giving up my phone. Students almost never use it now. I get maybe four calls in a year from students. There are possibly two calls i receive from the media. That said, you’re right that it’s hardly an either/or. Our library budget has been hit hard, especially adding in the weak Canadian dollar. I’ve just discovered that a journal I rely upon is no longer in the library. Bah!

  3. We lost our office phones several years ago, for similar reasons (and as the result of a department-level decision/vote about priorities, which probably makes it easier to take; we could have kept them, but we would have lost other things, like travel money). I can’t say I miss mine, though I do get the real-professional-status thing (I suspect most professionals who don’t have office phones do have employer-provided cell phones; in fact, not having a professional number that can receive a text may soon seem as weird as not having a professional number at all). I also get a little annoyed when filling out internal-to-the-institution forms that require me to fill in an office number, and won’t take “n/a” or 000-000-0000 for an answer. For external forms (and internal ones if truly necessary), I just fill in the departmental office number (which will result in an email message sent to me). I was *really* annoyed when a student’s therapist decided to fax me an urgent (by the therapist’s definition) message last year, but fortunately I was coming to campus already (if I hadn’t been, I’m pretty sure our office manager would have scanned it and sent it to me in an email, HIPAA and FERPA be damned — and probably not actually violated by someone within the loop of student confidentiality passing on possibly-important information in a timely manner). That might,however, have happened anyway; even if I did have a phone # on my syllabus, the therapist might not have called (though I can’t figure out why she thought having her message emerge from a machine located who-knows-where — in the case of my department, the room with that also holds the communal copier, scanner, printer, and computer, plus the coffee/tea pot and the refrigerator — would be more private then emailing me an attachment).

    I do *not* give students my cell phone number, or my home number (not since, many years ago, a student’s father called to complain, in a rather threatening manner, about the possible consequences of the plagiarism accusation I’d filed against his daughter. My home address can probably be located via property records anyway, but there’s no sense in making it any easier). I do occasionally give university administrative staff my home number, mostly for my convenience (usually when we need to discuss students in difficulty). I skype with students (during office hours and/or by appointment), and if really pressed to provide a phone number to them, I’d probably set up a google voice or similar virtual number. I think a lot of the phone system remaining at our university is now VOIP anyway, so the two systems aren’t really that separate/different.

  4. I use my office phone at least a couple times a month to call our IT folks for some computer question. (Our IT folks can usually answer it, for which my eternal thanks).

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