133

I would suggest offering something in response that makes the students feel like their concerns are heard, without compromising the academics of the course. For example: I understand that this is a difficult time, especially for minority students. Unfortunately, if I cancel the final exam, I won't be able to assign a grade to these students and they won't ...


47

Making special plans for minorities just seems like reverse racism to me. How can you expect the majority to pass this exam, without special assistance, but the minorities not? Why does a person from a minority need special assistance anyway? I'm assuming they had to make the same vetting process any student from the majority did? This just seems like a ...


25

While there is always risk in such things, if his professional credentials are good and the other comments don't reflect badly on that, I'd suggest asking for the recommendation and not otherwise mentioning it in cover letters and such. Treat it as a purely professional relationship, which it should be. As you note it is odd to not have a recommendation from ...


24

It's worth noting that giving in to the student can also cause a PR disaster, it just will upset other people. When dealing with those that asks for special treatment, I would advice arguing for why it's good for minorities as well when there's equal treatment. If it's generally known that minority students at a given university don't have done the same work ...


23

Moreover, in one Zoom discussion, some student estimated that the failure rate in his classes has a strong correlation to race factor in the last few semester (Students probably reached this estimation only by surveying other students who took his classes in the past. But my colleague admits that it "sounds about right"). I am wondering, why this ...


23

As has been noted, everywhere will have its own procedures, but I think my department is fairly typical of what I've seen elsewhere: One or two junior faculty are responsible for organising the main seminar series Every few months they solicit suggestions for seminar speakers from the other faculty. Nominations come in different forms, e.g.: "I think ...


22

Before talking about what to do, here are some suggested premises to follow: Document all communications on this issue. Even if it's just a phone conversation, record the date, time, and summary. Use these two as guiding questions: "Have I followed the school policy and syllabus?" and "Have I done my due diligence to make sure students' ...


16

Based on your description, getting a Masters degree is not a good idea. Several reasons: You can't be sure your mother will remain healthy. You currently have no savings, and you're already 38. There's not much time left to build up a retirement fund - and as you point out, academia does not pay well. You already have student loans to pay for. Getting a job ...


13

Will our disobedience lead to trouble later? Anything is possible, and some things are a lot more possible these days than they were just a couple of months ago. It’s quite reasonable for you to be worried. But let’s be clear. You didn’t “think it was a joke”. That is a poor way to explain your outlook and increases the chance that you will be criticized, ...


13

If you don't get a letter from your advisor, and I certainly see why you'd feel uncomfortable doing so, the best thing to do would be to ask one of your other letter writers to address why you don't have a letter from your advisor. In practice, this may be tricky because it only works if you know that one of your letter writers knows about the problem with ...


7

Humanities is specifically high risk unfortunately Gemini, so the simple answer is yes, the financial risk is disappointing massive, no matter the yearning. Allure's point about your mother's health raises another important issue, one of mobility and flexibility. In a very scarce and competitive academic environment, extreme flexibility and mobility tends to ...


6

EDIT: The question has changed substantially, resulting in a bit of a mess. I subscribe to the philosophy that conflicts with students should be used as teaching opportunities where possible. Is your exam actually useful? If it's not, cancel it for everyone. If it is, explain to students why its useful (to students or society, not you personally). If it'...


6

I would recommend you check out the salaries of humanities faculty at your local state university to see the expected salaries for those who actually land jobs. (Usually available with some clever googling via a newspaper website.) Then try to look at the website of your relevant professional association to see the percentage of PhD graduates who land those ...


6

I am willing to believe that your friend is not lying in the sense that he believes that what he is saying is true. However, that does not mean that that is the whole story. University is a tricky place to navigate. It is a huge bureaucracy with lots of rules that many people who work there are so used to, that they consider them self-evident. It is very ...


5

This is an ongoing problem at all levels of university life. For example Asian students applying to Harvard (1) brought (and lost) a lawsuit against Harvard's admissions policy that they claimed was racist because of a perception that Asian students 'had fewer social skills' In other words that they were perceived to be inferior in some way. On the other ...


5

I'd offer two practical suggestions. First, have a "blind" grading system, where each student is assigned a random code that goes on their exam papers* instead of their name. None of the graders know which code corresponds with which student. Second, ask the students to suggest questions that relate to the life experiences of "marginalized ...


5

As most things, it would depend. However, given the cumulative information from your posting history, I believe that your spotty work history would be flagged as a concern. Graduate committees will most likely focus first on your letters of reference, transcripts, and Statement of Purpose - not necessarily in that order. What is unique about your situation ...


4

This varies a lot. Sometimes the department will be interviewing to hire new faculty members. The candidate will be asked to give a seminar as a part of the interview process. Sometimes a professor from another institution will be in town anyway (e.g. for a conference or some other meeting), and will be asked to give a seminar. Sometimes a professor will be ...


4

One could consider an option (offered to all students in the course) of making the exam optional. This could be done where taking the exam could only help a student's grade; or where it could help or hurt. You could also say, for instance, that to be eligible for a grade of A, a student must take the exam. If you do this option you should be prepared, in ...


4

The National Postdoc Association has an Overview of Tax Issues for Postdocs that may be a good starting point. Here it seems that some of Caltech are exempt from federal tax, but I am not sure if this applies to postdoc researchers. This just means that Caltech itself is exempt from paying income tax. By default (that is, unless there's a tax treaty), a ...


4

In general it is useful to report cheating. Some institutions require students to report it. In this case, however, you do not know who cheated and faculty have already made reasonable efforts to make cheating harder. The information you are providing is not doing anything to reduce cheating, so you can stop reporting it.


3

In short term Will our disobedience lead to trouble later? No, I really doubt that. I don't think the OP will get into any trouble for not following the strong recommendation. There are only a few thousand researchers signed up, which likely means a majority of people did not actively participate. So at least you are not alone (not saying it's good). If ...


3

CYA: Cover your Ass Have all communications with everyone over email. Send follow up emails recapping discussions after phonecalls. Do not opine on anything, not with the students nor with any one else. Your opinions are irrelevant and will only get you in trouble. Follow explicit University policy on designing exams. It's likely that it is illegal for the ...


3

I think it depends on your backup plan. As others have pointed out, there is a very high risk that your first choice will not work. You need some other way of supporting yourself, possibly supporting your mother if she needs your help, meeting financial obligations such as repaying student debt, and providing for your retirement through some combination of ...


3

It's tricky to answer this question because you did not clearly state what your actual goal is. If your goal is to become a tenured professor in the humanities, the truth is that this is an implausible goal for almost everyone. There are very many qualified people and very few universities hiring. There is no reason to think the underlying economic causes ...


3

A US Bachelors degree generally would be accepted, but in your case, since your degree is from a TRACS accredited college, you may have a difficult time. For my US university (and most US universities), the policy for domestic applicants for graduate studies states: Students must have a bachelor’s degree from a college or university accredited by a regional ...


2

You are worried to much. My PhD advisor also has several connections in HR. This can also be damaging if a company background-checks through the university HR department. First, HR is not allowed to say anything bad about you with no clear evidence (for fear of being sued). They will just give minimal information, and that's it. Second, background check is ...


2

I doubt there could be any official consequences at all under the circumstances. Of course if you did so to support racist policies or denigrate BLM (Black Lives Matter) then you might be castigated for that. But the thing was put together very quickly and I'm not surprised that many didn't know of it or understand the purpose, though many universities ...


2

First off, postdoc salary levels at Caltech vary widely by department. Regarding taxes, there are tax treaties between the US and a lot of other countries. For some of these countries, these treaties have special regulations for (postdoctoral) researchers staying for less than a certain time (e.g. 2 years): If you move to the US from such a country (not ...


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