The Shay Rebellion | Christopher Shay

Go Big Green!

Why didn’t I think of it before? Priya Venkatesan taught a required first year writing course at Dartmouth, which means she and I taught very similar courses, and I have to give her credit I never could’ve come up with her idea. Priya Venkatesan threatened to sue her students for criticizing her. She sent her class an email:

… I regret to inform you that I am pursuing a lawsuit in which I am accusing some of you (whom shall go unmentioned in this email) of violating Title VII of anti-federal [SIC] discrimination laws…

It’s brilliant. First off, this a good technique to make your students pay attention: “Hey class, pay attention and agree with me, or I’ll sue you.” Plus, they’ll be too busy freaking out to notice the grammar errors in the email. Apparently, the students disrespected Venkatesan by being intolerant of her views. Unfortunately for academia, the press has called her views “post-modern” and part of “French narrative theory,” rather than the more accurate label—stupid. If I had followed her example, I could have waltzed into class and said anything I wanted, and my students would’ve been forced to listen to me. There’d be no need to lesson plan.

Second, she reportedly missed about three weeks of class and stopped grading papers. Think of all the free time I’d have to travel around Asia if I didn’t have to lesson plan, attend class, or grade papers. I could learn to cook, spend time learning Chinese, or maybe even take massage lessons. Now it turns out that Dartmouth is making her class pass/fail. This means she didn’t need to do any grading at all. Her entire class is passing. For every hour of class there is about three hours grading, and Venkatesan found a way to around this whole system. Supposedly, she has left Dartmouth and is now at Northwestern, another elite university.

If you read her students’ reviews, they clearly hated her. But on the bright side, she’s writing a book about the whole experience. I could even imagine the autobiography of a delusional crackpot academic selling well. Her emailed finished:

… I am also writing a book detailing my experiences as your instructor, which will “name names” so to speak. I have all of your evaluation and these will be reproduced in the book.

Have a nice day.


Have a nice day, indeed.

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One Response

  1. Christina says:

    Heeeeee! that is so delightfully bitchy and made me laugh so hard… the only thing that could have possibly made it better is if she had put a little smiley face at the end.

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