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No one ever said that life was fair…

Scales
Scales to check the balance…
by AntonyB at fr.wikipedia, CC-BY, via Wikimedia Commons

But there are definitely some things that go beyond “unfair.”

I work as a college professor. And I’ll be honest – at best, I get $1,600 a class. For a semester. Think about the number of hours I put in per month, and you’ll see, it’s not nothing, but it’s sure not a lot. That’s because I’m an adjunct. Colleges and universities love us cheap adjuncts because they can pay us nothing and then be able to do things like this…

Turn a blind eye to a professor who spend $600/night hotels. Who rents Land Rovers at $180/day while traveling for “school business.” Who buys $8,000 worth of Mont Blancs for “computation by hand written devices.”

And the professor in question sees no problem with the spending because it’s not tuition, state, or federal funds. It’s from the “private sector, mostly big oil companies, which pump big bucks into the University for a research program that Dr. Weglein runs.”

So…what we’ve learned is that a professor sees no problem with lavish spending because he feels like he earns it by being a corporate shill. Ya know, before, in a previous blog, I said that I disagreed that the academic system was totally corrupt. I may have to take that back because, obviously, the system is corrupt. And maybe it still isn’t right to cheat, but we need to look at how our higher education system is being run, and maybe we need to look a bit closer at not just our students but our educators, too.

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Ethics are optional?

A line graph of Enron's stock price (in USD) from April 23, 2000 to January 11, 2002. Data compiled from Enron Securities Litigation Web Site
A line graph of Enron’s stock price (in USD) from April 23, 2000 to January 11, 2002. Data compiled from Enron Securities Litigation Web Site. Created by Nehrams2020 and licensed under Creative Commons 3.0.

Yes, that’s always been true, and more true for some than for others. Popes who fathered children. CEOs who raided stock before departed for bigger and better things, leaving 401k plans in the dust.

But college professors who are “proudly unethical,” writing essays for students?  Yup, it’s going on right now.  Thanks to a recent Gawker article, I got another lesson in what other people think.

The article itself isn’t that amazing.  Like I said, there have been plenty of unethical people throughout history, and it kind of makes sense for academics to write academic papers.  Logical.  But totally, totally wrong.

The point is that there is a company in Montreal that hires unemployed college professors (are they “college professors” is they aren’t employed by a college? I suppose that’s another essay…) to write papers for students for money.  No attempt at teaching.  Purely a paper-writing mill.  The website itself acknowledges that it is unethical for the professors to be writing the papers, but, according to them, that’s okay.  “…because the academic system is already so corrupt, we’re totally cool with that.

Quick point – I’m not sure how they find the system corrupt.  There is no definition of how a college is corrupt.  Sure, I can see it when the administration raids the funds of the university to furnish their own home, but that really has no bearing on the actual quality and standards of the college itself.  (And I’m not going to go into the argument about whether or not grade inflation exists.  It does.  But, if anything, that is in the students’ favor, so don’t complain.)

But back to the point at hand.  The most interesting point about this article is actually the commentary from the people who have read it.  Some people think it’s cheating and therefore wrong.  Or they see it as double-cheating – you’re paying for an education and then cheating on the work, which means you’re also cheating yourself out of the money you’re spending on a supposed education.  My favorite one, however, is from someone who says:

“…if I was an unemployed professor…I’d rather sit at Starbucks writing some Johnnie’s 101 paper than work at Subway, rake leaves or any other d***sucking job.  THIS IS THE FUTURE. GET IN WHERE YOU FIT IN.  ETHICS HAVE BECOME AN IDEA, NOT A REQUIREMENT.”

Hence the title of this blog.  Ethics are optional, as per this anonymous poster who goes by the name “SadDaveKrieg.”

Well, hell, if ethics is optional, why am I paying my bills at all?  Why work?  I can forge forms showing I have a disability.  I mean, obviously, I don’t belong working at a – gasp! – Subway! Only the lowest of the low would do that.  And…bigger gasp…raking leaves! Manual labor? For someone with a degree?  Now that’s even worse than having ethics!

Seriously, what is wrong with this world when we think we’re entitled to do something “where we fit in.”  Who determines where we fit in?

And, keep in mind, I write this as an underemployed college professor who works part-time at two colleges to earn less than a full-time professor but has to teach more classes and has less support.  And I still would rather hang on to my ethics and not be “where I fit in.”  And if I had to work retail, I would.  And if I had to rake leaves, I would.  Because I’d rather have a job “below” me than discover that I compromised what I’d learned and what I believed in.  I have to wonder if “SadDave” has a college degree, and how honest he was in getting it.  And I also have to wonder…did “SadDave” ever take a critical thinking class, or perhaps one on ethics?  Because obviously he deserves his money back on both of them if he did.