The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

January 8, 2002


     //////////////// this bangs me hard ////////////////
     //////////////// upon the head ////////////////
     //////////////// this metal plate ////////////////
     //////////////// into me fed  ////////////////
     //////////////// i am the bard  ////////////////
     //////   /////// of air and lead //////   ///////
     ///// ///#////// i learned to hate ///// ///#//////
     ///// ///#////// when it was said ///// ///#//////
     ///// ///#////// i had been barred ///// ///#//////
     //////###/////// i'd soon be dead //////###///////
     //////////////// it was my fate ////////////////
     //////////////// to death i'm wed ////////////////
     //////////////// this poem is marred ////////////////
     //////////////// it's rhyme i'll shed ////////////////
     //////////////// it's not too late ////////////////
     //////////////// i'm almost healthy ////////////////


open letter -

I'm sending this out, somewhat for protection. I have told my students
about what happened - I felt I owed them this - and that the new media
area of the school is closing down - what the Dean said when he termin-
ated my contract. Now the head of the department is insisting I not pass
on negative information, that the area will continue. This woman has also
written a letter of recommendation for me which will be required, I'm
sure, if I'm to be hired elsewhere. She's lied consistently to me, as far
as I'm concerned; she wants me to lie to the students. Fact: There's no
one to teach new media, no money for hiring even adjuncts. Fact: There's
only one video camera still, 2 G4 stations, one half-working Sony station
- and I have a total of  26 students. Fact: There's no budget for more
equipment, the new media line has been taken away, there's no budget for
visiting artists, there's no budget for software. I spend half the time
dealing with students groaning - in spite of which I get good recommend-
ations. There's no budget for technical support. There's no budget for
lab monitors. The students are barely getting an education, and I'm the
only one who can teach new media or Internet in the Art / Art History
area. I'm afraid of lying; I don't want my better students to lose their
own chances at careers because the department head puts the university
ahead of the truth.

This woman has also threatened me, telling me I don't want to know what
the real reasons for the termination are - "Don't go there" - and "I'm
married to a lawyer, so I know when to keep my mouth shut."

How in hell am I to get another teaching job? I've been getting physically
sick with stress at this point; I can't cope. I feel like a victim in
someone's paranoid fantasy. I've spoken to the union who want to publicize
things (and probably will) because the situation is so unusual (and they
want to prevent it from happening again) - but that will make it even
harder for me to get work elsewhere, student evaluations notwithstanding.
I keep a partial paper trail, but so much of what's gone on has been
verbal - the meeting with the Dean, the woman's threats, etc. I've never
seen such an insane situation in my life.

What does one do? I'm a damn good teacher. I'm applying to various
schools. The first thing they'll notice is the one year termination. How
do I protect myself? How do I survive?


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