Monday, June 06, 2005

Oh, and one other thing...

You know, The Phantom Professor has been receiving a lot of attention since she was outed. For those of you not in the know, that links to a blog run by one Elaine Liner. Ms. Liner is an arts critic for The Dallas Observer (where she regularly makes personal attacks against actors/directors/producers; yes, personal attacks). Ms. Liner was also an adjunct writing professor at Southern Methodist University. While a professor, she maintained the aforementioned blog, and often commented on things she observed/heard on campus, interactions she had with students, or just SMU life in general. She labeled the rich, blonde, petite girls who are SMU's stock-in-trade as "Ashleys", giving her a way to discuss their vapidity without naming names, which would've opened her up to a libel case.

The blog ran in complete anonymity for quite a while, until it was discovered that it was Ms. Liner running it. I can't remember how, nor do I really care; we'll get to that in a moment. Regardless, the truth came out. Shortly after it came out, Ms. Liner lost her contract as an adjunct professor at SMU. Were the two connected? SMU claims no, Ms. Liner (naturally) claims, if not directly, it certainly didn't help.

People have been lauding her as someone speaking the truth about how things are at SMU. I can't really argue with that aspect of it. The way she describes things are pretty accurate. There's a real focus on the surface of things here (which would explain why every office in my building has a flat screen monitor, but I have to pay about $35/month (!) for my health benefits). So she makes a few good points. That being said, I'd like to express the following opinion of Ms. Liner: She is a horrible person, and that was a really inappropriate thing for her to do.

I know, it seems hypocritical of me to say her points were good but they make her a horrible person. But that's not what I meant. What I meant was that the expression of those opinions was the bad thing to do. She quoted things students said to her in confidence, and while she may not have used any names to indentify the students, the students themselves knew when they were being quoted. I would go so far as to say their friends knew who they were as well, and potentially could have learned details they shouldn't have known about friends/acquaintances. In addition, the labeling of a subset of the school community in a pejorative nature is unprofessional in the utmost. She's in a position of leadership, authority, and guidance over these students. Rather than bemoaning the fact that they have little focus on the deeper things in life, try to guide them toward those deeper things. Is that what a college-level professor is supposed to do anyway? Guide and instruct?

Something definitely needs to be done about the love of money and surface around here. I'm not saying I'm any better than Ms. Liner. I'm not, however, in a position of authority over the students, so anything I say is just inane rambling (if you've gotten this far in the post, you can definitely see the truth in that statement). When it comes from Ms. Liner, it's wholly inappropriate. Did the blog have anything to do with Ms. Liner's ousting from SMU? Who really knows except the administration? Should it have had something to do with it? You bet your sweet bippy.


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