Try Googling “Leaving Academia” and see how many posts come up. Lots. Many of them are sad or angry. Some are very creative and talk about the real choices people have and why they activate them. There was at least one post making the rounds of Facebook a few months back in which someone struggling with an emotional disability and racism resigned, saying that it was impossible to preserve one’s sanity in the contemporary university. If you have tenure, or a tenure track job, you might want to check into these: what’s going on “out there” can really make you think hard about your own life and choices.
But then there are the other articles — the ones that the Huffington Post digs up, stories that are of “Jennifer Anniston’s Wedding on Hold” variety of academic news. Those are the ones that really cheer me up.
In 2011, it was Dan Middlemiss at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia who drew my eye as I was waiting in line at the post office scanning my Twitter feed. A full professor, Middlemiss resigned because he too was waiting in line to buy his annual parking pass. It was apparently a log wait, but specifically, he resigned because Dalhousie had a habit of selling many more passes than they had spots. Not everyone comes to work every day, right? And yet, it also meant that Middlemiss was waiting in line for a pass that didn’t guarantee him a parking spot either:
After waiting for more than an hour [to purchase an annual parking pass], he decided instead to leave his profession of 31 years.
“For a guy like myself that lives in Lower Sackville, I have to get on the road around 6:30 to 7 to get an assured parking spot somewhere so I can get here to teach at 2:30 in the afternoon,” said Middlemiss, an expert on Canadian defence policy.
“It’s ridiculous, in my view, and the university just keeps pretending that it’s not the problem that it is.”
Middlemiss said parking has always been a problem at Dalhousie. But this time, he simply had enough.
“I went straight upstairs, I said, ‘I’m not kidding this time, I don’t have to put up with this. I’m resigning,’” he told CBC News.
I guess Middlemiss made his point: the current Dalhousie website lists him as the Acting Director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies. Maybe the job comes with its own parking spot?
This week, it’s a guy at Northwestern who quit his job because he was tired of picking up party cups and used “raincoats” left in his back yard by students:
Dr. Mark Waymack, who was an adjunct associate professor in Medical Humanities and Bioethics at Northwestern, said he’s also moving away from his home near the Evanston, Ill., campus because the students are too rowdy, CBS Chicago reports.
“The used condoms tend to show up in the back yard, actually,” Waymack told CBS Chicago, adding complaints about “the vomit, the beer cans in the hedges. I think they horse around late at night.”
Waymack is pointing the blame at the Northwestern administration.
He wrote a letter of resignation to Morton Schapiro, the university’s president, which was read at an Evanston City Council meeting on June 11 by Ald. Judy Fiske. Waymack remained anonymous when the letter was read at the meeting, but has since disclosed his name, according to the Daily Northwestern.
“My perception is there’s a culture of tolerance or perhaps indifference on the institution’s part that students will be students,” Waymack wrote. “I hold you and your office accountable for this sort of behavior.”
You’ll be glad to know that Dr. Waymack still has his day job — as associate professor and Chair of philosophy at Loyola University of Chicago. Meanwhile, will Northwestern reign in its party culture for fear of losing other faculty who don’t really work for them? Will Jennifer Aniston stop being such a control queen, realize that she is aging rapidly and work it out with Justin Theroux? Will Bernard Bailyn tweet a pic of his ripped-for-summer bod? (OK, I lied: that link takes you to Patrick Schwarzenegger-Shriver.)
Stay tuned to Huff Post College, the People Magazine for the People with a Ph.D., and find out.