While students have been updating and browsing Xanga and Facebook accounts and rating their professors on ratemyprofessors.com, a certain Eastern professor has been busy with a private blog about the university. Most of the posts are satire on the institution.
The blogging professor has requested anonymity for both self and blog.
On the blog, the professor uses the title “Editor-in-Chief,” and styles the posts as a news source for the university.
The blog, Editor said, stemmed from an underground newspaper at a previous institution, which, Editor admitted, is “kind of embarrassing. It was a way of poking fun for me, to always have humor.”
After joining Eastern, the professor discovered online blogging, a more ideal venue.
“It’s easier, quicker,” Editor said. “You can do some breaking news stories.”
One such story for early February was a rumored termination of the 4×4 proposal.
The professor posted a link to a personalized electronic greeting card with soft piano music and photos of candles. It read: “Rather than mourn the absence of the flame, let us celebrate how brightly it glowed. With sympathy. To the 4×4 proposal: we hardly knew ya. May you rest in peace.”
Such posts Editor-in-Chief finds to be a therapeutic outlet for creativity.
“It’s not me gazing at my navel,” the professor said, in reference to some personal Facebook and Xanga accounts. “I’ve been told it helps the community.”
The blogs’ readers would agree.
“It gives us a chance, like any set of satires, to laugh at the things that otherwise might get you down,” English professor Betsy Morgan said.
Mathematics professor Walt Huddell, also included in the original email updates, finds the posts to be beneficial.
“It allows us to laugh at ourselves, which the faculty and administration need,” he said. “As academics, we take ourselves far too seriously.”
Morgan does not find the blog to be harmful in any way.
“You’d have to be looking for trouble to take offense,” Morgan said. “Although, we’re finding out there are very humorless people in the world. Humor always has a dangerous explosive side, I guess.”
Eastern is not the only college with faculty posting on the net.
At the appointed time of interview, the anonymous poster of a blog titled Rate Your Students (rateyourstudents.blogspot.com) cancelled and refused comment, due to the site’s sudden discontinuation.
While the blogger claimed the shut-down was due to hackers, Eastern’s faculty blogger made note of other such situations, when the blog actually got the professor into trouble. Editor-in-Chief referred to a case at the University of Chicago, where a blog about institutions contributed to a political science professor being denied tenure.
“It’s risky to put your name out there,” Editor said.
Editor-in-Chief realizes that the reading audience has spread beyond the original mailing list.
Bettie Ann Brigham, vice president for student development, is one of the extended audience.
“The thing is, it’s like Facebook; you’ve got to assume the whole world can see it,” Brigham said. “This person thought through those issues.”
Brigham is not offended by the posts.
She agreed with Morgan that “humor can be interpreted in various ways. I imagine probably some of the people here think it’s inappropriate,” Brigham said. “That’s okay.”
Like Brigham, Huddell is not worried about others getting hurt by the blog.
“I don’t think if administration read the blog that wheels would be turned. It wouldn’t make them uncomfortable,” he said, then added, “well, it might make them a teeny bit uncomfortable.”
Other professor weblogs: