It was then that faculty felt obliged to take action. They organized a committee, held lengthy discussions and hearings over the virtues of following the university’s strict guidelines regarding the minimum levels and standards of digestive function. They also examined the State laws, which stipulated that student who complained of a graduate teaching assistant’s anal eruptions could legally request transfer to a different course, and the department was bound by the civil code to honor these requests.
After several months of painful deliberation, the Ad Hoc Committee on Farting produced a White Paper that detailed the intricacies of the problem and proposed that the department grant teaching assistantships to students that had a score of 20 or higher on their digestive and rectal exams.
This proposal met a firestorm of questions and comments from faculty:
“What if we get a promising student who blows a 19? Is this scale unnecessarily stringent?”
“What evidence do we have that this is a widespread problem? Can the committee conduct a review of the scores on the previous applicants’ scores for the past ten years to see if this merits a change to our guidelines?”
“What is the position of the Dean and Provost? Is there any way to tell how they are leaning on this issue?
“When I was on the Academic Advisory Board, I told them about this problem and they didn’t listen to me back then, and they went ahead and put this new rule into effect.”
“That was over fifteen years ago. Why did you call it the new rule?”
“Has anyone consulted with Affirmative Action and the Rules Committee of the Academic Senate? I think we should call for a university-wide discussion on this issue and a best-practices statement from the President.”
“Isn’t facilities management going to install the new ventilation system on the second floor?”
Then, the department curmudgeon couldn’t handle the banter anymore and blurted out:
“Aren’t we talking about just one case? Hasn’t someone taken the time to pull this guy aside and tell him to move down, crack a window, burn off the methane, and step outside, anything is better than endless discussion. Why hasn’t the committee just grabbed the bull by the horns? Hey, if you all don’t like confrontations, the committee can just leave a box of Gas X on his desk? Is that subtle enough for you?”
To bring the discussion back to an academic level, the department chair sought to head off any possible animosity and reframed the issue under discussion:
“We’re not talking about a particular student per se, but rather our discussion is philosophical in nature, an academic exercise in shared governance. We need to focus on the ‘noxious emissions scale’ published by the graduate school. In that document, the university recommends a 23 as a minimum level.”
It was at this point that the methodology professor became desperate. She was intent on trying to recruit a student she met while traveling abroad, and despite her best efforts, the young woman was still blowing a 21 on her exam, a score that would have excluded her from financial aid if faculty opted to adhere to the university’s guidelines.
Other faculty felt bloated and constrained by the discussion and opted to speak to the department chair privately to express their concerns. The chair himself, a fervent believer in the process of discussion and debate, had also come to the conclusion that the entire matter was as circuitous and as monotonous as Jose Emilio’s farts. Faculty is particularly inclined to long discussions on this kind of topic because they too are often full of hot gas. But this had clearly run its course. The academic year was almost over and soon the eye burning and foul smelling discussion would come to a close. , At this point, he weighed in and forwarded a memo to faculty, notifying them that he himself would interview the potential candidate and evaluate their ability to refrain from tooting in class.
With this pronouncement, eight months of discussion dissipated into thin air and faculty resumed their teaching and research duties.
Cross-posted at My Ongoing Struggle with Misanthrpy: http://jimmygabacho.com/?p=788