Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Where the kleptobureaucrats rule: an update

On February 28 I posted about a friend and colleague who taught a short-term course during the Christmas recess for which his university refused to pay him. The university's stated reason for withholding pay was that, since only two students registered for the course, the course should have been canceled.

My friend, realizing at the time that having only two students enrolled might jeopardize the course, tried repeatedly to contact his Dean's office and get some official word as to whether the class would run or not. However, it was Christmas break, and he was unable to get a response, and so he went ahead and taught the course. At the end, the course was still listed on the university's web site, my friend posted grades for the students, and they got their three credits from the university. He waited to be paid, but no pay (a mere $1200) was forthcoming. My friend pursued his case onward and upward until, finally, one of the highest administrators at the university actually argued, over the phone, that my friend should have "camped out" at the Dean's office back before the start of the class.

I learned today that the university administration has finally agreed to pay my friend. But instead of the almost laughably low $1200 he had been promised, they're going to give him $600. They actually sent him a memo with the $1200 crossed out and $600 written in by hand! So, basically, the university stole what they consider to be one-half the value of my friend's labor.  And that brings me to the real purpose of this post: The university in question is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

One might be tempted to see this situation as some kind of anomaly, but it isn't. This is Louisiana, home of the "big easy." Consider the news that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal blackmailed his Democratic Attorney General into supporting the round of totally mindless and morally bankrupt lawsuits challenging the legality of President Obama's recently passed Affordable Care Act. That's right, blackmailed: Jindal told AG Buddy Caldwell that if he joined in the lawsuit, his employees would be immune from the budget cuts Jindal wants to use to reduce the size of state government. This earned Jindal "Worst Person in the World" for Tuesday, April 6:

No, these aren't anomalies; these are manifestations of a dysfunctional culture.


  1. How absolutely and utterly appalling. If you post an address and a person (the university's Ombudsman? their PR people? the local newspaper) to whom we can direct letters or e-mails expressing our shock at such a poor decision, I'd love to comment. Here in Australia, university staff members are unionised and if that sort of thing happened, you'd have a whole union to back you up. Adjunct professors in the U.S. are, of course, largely without back-up and support when something like this happens, but bad PR will cost the university a lot more than $600.

  2. L.L. Wynn: Thanks for the comment, and my beleaguered colleague appreciates it also. It seems that his case has stirred up a small hornet's nest on the campus, although it also seems as though he probably isn't going to get any more than the $600. I was sort of hoping that some administrator would notice my posts, but that doesn't appear to be happening. I'm reluctant to draw any more attention to him than I already have, since he's in a vulnerable position, as you say, without union representation.


Comments and feedback are welcome, as long as they conform to normal standards of civility and decency. I will delete comments that do not meet these standards.