Tulane Faculty Convenes for Annual Holiday Season Deadline Conference
By Kiera Torpie
Yes, your professors do get off on your misery
Each semester professors meet in a Think Tank style setting to discuss ways in which they can maximize Total Student Distress Index, a buzz-word coined by a Tulane psych professor in one of her latest academic journals.
First, with the help of the office of the registrar, the sociology department extrapolates student course enrollment data to find out which classes have the most overlap. The professors with the largest concentrated pool of similar students then meet in small groups to create syllabi that allow for their exams and paper deadlines to align, particular during the weeks preceding and following Thanksgiving break.
I sat down with some professors to ask a few questions about this tradition as well as various aspects of Tulane study culture.
“I just think it’s really important to consider these kids when we make decisions about their emotional and physical well being. At the end of the day, we just want to make deadlines that effectively prevent them from spending time with their families or thinking about the important things,” said the head of the public health department.
“I couldn't agree more. Just thinking about the number of students whose breaks I’m ruining while I sit at home scrolling through Tinder on my parents’ couch ~literally~ makes me orgasm,” first year PhD student and professor of symbolic logic chimed in.
The pre-med track small group has a unique approach. Rather than stacking up deadlines immediately after break, they set them for the week following.
“Here in the pre-med track small group, we realize that most of our students are doubling up on pre-med courses in addition to their other major requirements. By setting our deadlines a week after the other departments, we ensure not only intensity, but longevity of the degree to which our students experience extreme distress. Longevity is actually a critical, albeit often overlooked, component of the Total Student Distress Index.”
“So, no--to answer your question. I do not watch pornography. However, I do enjoy those Buzzfeed videos that feature anxious students complaining about their many responsibilities. I don’t know, that just really gets me going,” said a department head who requested to remain anonymous. This was in response to my question about whether or not he found snacks to be useful in memory retention among study groups.
“This year, when my family goes around the table saying what we’re thankful for, I’m going to say my wife. You know, after all, she did quit her job to take care of our new baby, Jessica. But in my head, you can bet your bottom dollar, I’ll be picturing my students lugging their backpacks around everywhere they go this week in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, they’ll catch a break and get to start their homework. Those desperate little faces are even cuter than my Jessica’s, but don’t tell her I said that. LOL!”
In an uncharacteristic emotional outpouring, one chemistry professor noted, “There are days, and then there are days when you look out onto an auditorium of students and 75% of them are crying because they don't know any of the answers and this is only their first exam of the day,” he sniffed and wiped a tear from his eye, “I’m telling you, there's nothing more rewarding. It just gives you that little push you need to get out of bed in the morning.”
Meanwhile, an econ professor commented that there’s nothing he hates more than seeing “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed students walk into an exam room” Rather, he likes “pale skin, greasy hair, dark, tired eyes…what can I say, I have a type.”
At this time, I vocalized my ponderance that perhaps all Tulane professors are simply masochists. “Oh, no. Common linguistic error! I wouldn’t consider myself a masochist, a person who enjoys being in pain. I would consider myself a sadist, a person who derives great pleasure, often sexual gratification from inflicting pain and humiliation unto others!” the head of the linguistics department corrected.
“I mainly participate because Delta gives me a $100 Friday’s gift card in exchange for every 10 students I make pay for an extra carry on so that they can fit their textbooks,” said a marketing professor. Then all of the professors in the room began high fiving one another, insinuating that they, too, are in cahoots with airlines for chain restaurant dining coupons.
The entire faculty meets before each semester in order to maximize time management inconvenience, many of them describing the event as their favorite NOLA tradition, even trumping Mardi Gras!
“We order Ba Chi, and Fitts dresses up like Santa Claus!”
Notably, given the relative success of this model, many universities have begun working to achieve the same degree of organized, bureaucratized student mistreatment, as measured by the Total Student Distress Index. Stick that in the next Tulane New Wave!