A terrible thing happened to me this term.
I am a tenured, teaching-award winning full professor with generally above average teaching evaluations.
A student left an anonymous message on the voice mail of A Big Wig (someone whose name no one could tell me, but I assume it is the college president) complaining that not only did I not return an essay to hir in a timely fashion, but that I taught class drunk one night.
Let me just say that while I do love a good ginger martini, I do NOT teach drunk. Not even tipsy.
Here’s the chain of events: the Big Wig forwarded the voice mail to the 2nd Big Wig in Command, who forwarded the voice mail to the mid-level Big Wig, who talked to the very low-level Big Wig and told hir not to take notes (all this I discovered later). Ultimately both the mid and low level Big Wigs were charged with visiting this particular class to 1. try to figure out who the student was, and to 2. obviously, check to see that I do not teach drunk. The plan was to NOT tell me about this anonymous phone call until after the term was over.
I took the visits in stride since they were part of a preplanned observation schedule. Nothing unusual.
However, the low level Big Wig decided to inform me of the situation right before hir visit to my class. Out of some perceived friendship? Out of the very very very mistaken belief that I may actually HAVE been drunk in class and in order to warn me of the uppity ups interest in this case? Who knows.
I immediately contacted both mid level and 2nd in command big wigs to demand more details and an explanation. And, not incidentally, to make sure that an anonymous phone call’s allegations did not end up in my file ( I may want emeritus status someday in the very far future, with its free email account, right?). I was assured that anonymous phone calls are not taken seriously, normally, but that since a VERY Big Wig got the voice mail, something had to be “done” but that NO, it would not be in my file.
The upshot: the student was discovered based on voice mail analysis done by the mid level Big Wig, and although no one approached said student, s/he dropped the day after the visit to my class by said Big Wig, despite getting an “A” on the essay that I returned exactly 7 days after it was submitted. And, Second in Command Big Wig assured me that this would never appear in my file.
So, case solved, right?
My question is, since I’ve been obsessing over this, do I try to discover who received the initial phone message and chat with hir? If it is the president, or some other Big Wig, I have to work with hir for years to come. As it is, I get nervous every time I see hir. Or, should I just chalk this up to a bad year and forgetaboutit?
Weekend Drinker ONLY
Dear Weekend Drinker ONLY,
My advice is to forgetaboutit. First, what if the Big Wig is NOT the president? But, even if it were, does the President even remember the situation? Know who you are? Yes, I see you are an award winning full professor, but really, the President may be getting lots of complaints about professors from students these customer-service education days.
However, maybe you should go check your file?