When I go to see my therapist, I have to take this little survey that asks me questions about how I’ve been feeling lately. Have I been depressed, lonely, feeling isolated, have the acute sense that anything I do that could be read as a demonstration of a slight flaw is emblematic of everything wrong with me and everyone can see it and knows I’m nothing more than the sum of my mistakes? Have I ever thought of hurting myself?
If I say yes to that last one, my therapist has to talk to me about not doing that. She makes sure I either have been advised on all the different outlets for misery, or she makes sure I have very clearly indicated I’m not actually going to hurt myself. I’m not. I’m quite happy. However, even knowing me as well as my therapist does, I think she is still obligated to make sure I’ve agreed not to hurt myself. Damaging school property is illegal.
A question not on the survey: Have you ever wanted to burn an institution to the ground, to raze its foundation until the only thing it could be recognized as is a field of rubble of indeterminate origin. Have you ever wanted to salt the earth on which the university that employs you stands? Yes.
But let me add this disclaimer: I am not at risk of actually damaging my university or any of its properties, valued more than me as they are, and this document serves only as a means of articulating just how much bullshit can be inflicted on one person by one place. I’m not going to burn my university down, but holy shit am I going to think about it a lot after yesterday.
I have been at my university in some capacity for 6 years, my entire adult life. I have worked for them for the last 4 years. I have been a teacher for the last 2. In that time, I have begun to notice just how many little ways this place has of either demanding money they do not deserve or denying money someone else does. This school is run like a business, so of course it’s going to try to keep every dollar it can for itself, but increasingly that is coming at the cost of the students and the faculty and the staff. When the purpose of an institution is sacrificed for the perpetuity of that institution and the comfort and affluence of a tiny fraction of its administrators, isn’t it time for a new institution altogether?
I’ve been asked to pay fees I shouldn’t have to owe, teach classes in a department that has to see every single student in the school but is funded like its a freshen anime club, and every summer it seems I have to deal with not getting paid until long after I’m owed it.
I work on a 2-week pay cycle. There should never be a reason an employee is not given what they are owed for more than 2 weeks. My first paycheck is coming 3 weeks into my job, a job that lasts 5 weeks.
I spoke to the Human Resources department, and by spoke, I mean ground my teeth and listened to someone stumble over themselves trying to figure out where I worked, whether I was still a student worker employed by an internship that has been dissolved for 3 years, whether I worked online or taught in person. I offered answers to all these things. She still said she was going to check “just to make sure.” Did she think I was lying? I don’t know what my voice over the phone sounds like, but I’m pretty sure she couldn’t see me trying to glare her to death. Why would I lie about my position, or why would I be deliberately confusing when I’m trying to make the process of her checking to make sure I’m really and truly employed any more difficult.
I started working at the end of a pay cycle. This means, I only worked for a week before a paycheck was due to come out. Instead of giving me half a check, the university decided to hold the money for another 2 weeks. They’d put it on the next one as back pay. So nice of them.
I harassed several more people over the phone, asking if there was any chance I could get that back pay now, asking if the university would let me take an advance, asking if there was anything I could do other than wait 2 more weeks. Apparently, it is the entire university’s policy not to give advances. I understand this is not the fault of any of the people I spoke to. They are small ambassadors for a colossal force that cares as much about them as it does about me. They are only the messengers telling me that the entire university’s management of low-level employees has been homogenized to the point that every department, regardless of how different they are, is made to treat its employees in this absolutely infuriating way.
When an organization is actively making it difficult for its workers to live, then shouldn’t that organization just… be gone?
I think a lot about fire lately.