Monday, February 15, 2010


You know the professor from Alabama who shot her colleagues dead? Well, according to a panelist on Jane Velez Mitchell, professors have a reputation for being a little wacky. Mitchell agreed with this comment, and if it weren't for a random caller who defended teachers in higher education, these ignorant remarks would've been left unquestioned.

Now, I know professors have been seen as "eccentric" and absent-minded maybe a little "out there," but most of us know that's a general stereotype. It's one thing to joke around about those in academia having eccentricities. I'll admit you have to be a little out-of-the-ordinary in order to devote your life to school. And those of us who spend endless hours at the library have inhaled dangerous amounts of dust from those peculiar-smelling (yet somehow comforting) old books, probably with deleterious effects after accumulated exposure.

And yeah, we'll probably have stress break-downs every now and then, but at least for me, those break-downs involve some tears, some unhealthy eating, some insomnia, and some whining to my boyfriend. None of those things harm others. Well, my boyfriend probably wishes I'd hush up sometimes. But he knows that if he gives me some chocolate and/or wine I'll be just fine within hours.

My friends are all similar. I know countless people pursuing higher education, many of whom wish to become tenured and teach for the rest of their lives. I admire their dedication and intelligence so much.

I hope to complete my doctorate and join the ranks of life-long scholars myself. And I do not appreciate stupid comments made casually on national television connecting "wacky professors" to one clearly mentally disturbed woman who happened to hold a PhD. During the same show, a comment was made regarding this woman's tenure, and how perhaps the acquisition of tenure should have an age limit (I don't know the specifics; I heard about this entire batch of comments second-hand). Hm, let's conveniently ignore the fact that the suspect killed her brother with a shotgun at age 19, yet was let go because police ruled it "an accident." I think that was long before securing tenure.

Get the facts right, people. It's not like you're talking with your neighbor over coffee; you're on CNN. Don't connect an entire profession with a single murderer. A little education about common tact might do you some good.

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