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Friday, March 30, 2018

The invisible burden

Filling out paperwork. Doing Sexual Harassment training. Filling out one's annual review form. Filling out conflict of interest form. Sorting through emails sent by department, college, university provost and chancellor, graduate school, teaching excellence center, to see if any of it is important or not. Applying to internal grants. And many other things...

None of this is "service" work for which we receive credit. Cumulatively it amounts to many of hours spent by many people in the university, either generating these things on the administrative end or responding to them by staff and faculty. And hence millions of dollars. My idea for increasing the research productivity of the entire university is to go on a kind of research retreat, during which nobody would be allowed to do anything except research, teaching, and essential service. Maybe it could be the first two weeks of April?  

It is not that any one of these things is horribly taxing, in and of itself.  Some of the things are necessary, too. But the cumulative burden is quite large, because it increases the amount of distraction  and mental clutter.  We could put a dollar cost on it, by seeing who spends how much time on which kind of things, and then multiplying that by their hourly pay rates. But the real cost is in sapping energy.


Anonymous said...

This would be such a great idea.

The burden if this kind of busywork has massively increased. And everything is so much more intricate. The annual report used to be just vita updates. Travel reimbursement did not use to require the writing of an internal grant (now we even have to get letters of recommendation, from people saying the conference is good and that they think you did deserve to have your work accepted to it).

Someone has to start writing visible op-eds on this, or start a campaign on this, with dollar cost as you say. Every time we get a new administrator there are more of these meetings and requirements.

Also, they fired our person directing study abroad from that position because he was a professor and they wanted him to cancel class to attend a b.s. meeting. He said he wouldn't do that, meeting had to be at another time, so he got fired and the program is now directed by someone significantly worse.

Clarissa said...

A lot of money is being invested into the mushrooming bureaucratic positions that send out these emails, questionnaires and trainings. In the meanwhile, the library collection is barely growing because there are no funds.

I'm pretty good at ignoring or tuning out these attempts to steal my time. But when I can't ignore them - for instance, if there's mandatory training of some sorts - I get very angry. I don't understand why more people aren't angry about this.