October 5, 2020
Issue 13 2020

"Comprehensive" review of lecturer fuckups

After getting a taste for reviewing in the last issue, and with a recent little controversy over a certain lecturer’s very public opinions, it seems timely to make the small leap from reviewing Massey students and toilets to reviewing incidents students have had with Massey lecturers, with the helpful student contributions from Massive’s slightly less than massive social media reach.

A small disclaimer first, a few of the stories about lecturers are without names for their subjects and thus cannot be verified.

Having said that, let’s jump right in.

In an email to an undergraduate class, a Massey lecturer said, “Quite honestly, I do not know what some of you think you are doing. You are plainly wasting your time at university and might be better off going and doing a trades course. The country needs plumbers, electricians, and motor mechanics, hairdressers too; and you might find it really interesting. I don't know.”

I can only assume that those in the class would have been inclined to give that part of the email a D for politeness.

There are certainly contexts where a lecturer might give welcome and helpful career advice to a student in need; this is certainly not one of them. While I think I can kind of understand the frustration of teaching a subject that you are passionate about and feeling like people are not appreciating or learning from it, to tell them that they are wasting their time and should probably give up on what might be their own passion seems unprofessional and out of line for a lecturer no matter the circumstances.

As well as this, it shouldn’t matter how many of their students seem to be not trying, or failing, no single lecturer can truly be so aware of all of their personal struggles as to just dismiss them out of hand and essentially dub them unworthy of even continuing to try and get a tertiary degree.

Elsewhere in the email, they say, “If you got less than a B, that indicates poor understanding of the topic, substandard writing, or both.” Due to what I consider the substandard wording of this email, and the poor understanding of how to speak to their students, I’d have to rate this fuckup a C minus overall. Although this sounds like an absolute fail by their grading standards, this is what is considered a (barely) passing grade by most university papers standards and the phrase does go “C’s get degrees” after all.

In an incident with a different lecturer, someone told us that they had felt too sick to continue staying in their lecture and had decided to leave a third of the way through but got called out by their lecturer in front of the class.

For those who might not be aware of the problems with this, including the lecturer it seems, to out someone who may have a private reason for leaving the lecture in front of the entire class is incredibly and unnecessarily cruel. It should be an unsaid social rule for adults that having to get permission to leave the room is a rule that should stay in institutions like primary schools and prisons. Understandably, a university might sometimes be confused with these places since there are a lot of tantrums and crying and the people within appear to all be there against their will, but there is still an important distinction to be made. This whole fuckup gets a D minus from me.

Other responses we have received from the readers included a story of lecturers drinking and fighting on a field trip. If that is true, I’d have to give that fuckup a straight E, because holy shit.

Another story was of a lecturer physically pushing someone for asking a “stupid question”. I give that fuckup a D plus, because it apparently was an old lady doing the pushing, which honestly makes me laugh at the absurdity, but still a failing mark because that is a horrible thing to do, no matter the perpetrator or the victim.

Someone shared that they had a computing lecturer who was so incompetent, they were replaced after a semester. I must give props that it sounds like the problem did resolve itself relatively fast, but it does raise questions around the vetting process for Massey hires if true.

I’ll give that fuckup a tentative C, because they didn’t mention if they got easy A’s for allegedly knowing more than the lecturer or not.

When asked about their aforementioned hiring process, a Massey spokesperson said, “Employing the right people is critical to the success of Massey University and we have a number of attraction, selection and appointment processes that we use to ensure the right person is recruited for a particular role. All roles are advertised in an appropriate medium and for how long a role is advertised will vary, depending on a variety of circumstances that might be unique to each role, particularly if they are highly specialised.”

The Massey spokesperson clarified that Massey could not comment on matters involving an individual staff member’s employment relationship.

“The university has robust processes and procedures in place for student complaints and grievances and take these very seriously.”

It is easy enough to have a laugh at these sometimes-funny stories you hear through the grapevine of some lecturers sometimes doing ridiculous or occasionally unprofessional things. But on a more serious note once again, it is concerning that in a few of these anecdotes you never hear of a resolution, and you are left wondering what happens to those that are too nervous to speak out, or who may now feel uncomfortable in their classes.

No university or its staff can always be perfect, but Massey can always do more to foster a place where people don’t feel the need any more to come to the student magazine or their friends to tell the stories of how they have been failed by their lecturers. They should be able to instead trust solely in the support of the institution they study at to ensure that their study is taken care of in the most professional way, and their grievances heard with sympathetic ears.

Information about the student complaints and grievances procedures can be found at  https://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/calendar/studying-at-massey-university/student-grievance-procedures.cfm.