Friday, September 30, 2011

AAUP statement on partner accommodation

I saw a link to this interesting AAUP statement on partner accommodation (aka spousal hire). As I've mentioned before, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. There's a lot of good stuff in there, but not much new. I was particularly struck by this statement:

Such policies should be developed by appropriate faculty bodies or committees, not by the administration in the absence of meaningful faculty participation. The process for developing such procedures is arguably as important as the procedures themselves, and must take into account local conditions and institutional particularities.

I served on a committee that was charged with discussing appropriate partner accommodation policies. The fundamental problem we faced is the same problem faced by most faculty governance: we don't control the damn money. No matter how much the faculty support spousal hires, no matter how much we need them for faculty recruitment and retention, if the administration isn't willing to pony up the money, then what's the point of the policy?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011, guinea pig love

From the annals of interesting human/non-human animal relations, here's a unique way in which people are interacting with pets: as match-makers for grieving and lonely rodents.

Seriously, I couldn't make this stuff up.

It turns out that Switzerland has a law requiring guinea pig owners to keep more than one guinea pig, since these are social creatures and shouldn't be lonely. When one animal dies, however, some owners don't want to replace it with a younger animal, lest they be trapped in a never-ending spiral of rodent replacement. So, they "rent" guinea pigs from a woman who loans them out for that purpose.

No, really.

Friday, September 16, 2011

automatic tenure clock stoppage: family friendly?

Tiny U just implemented a policy that automatically stops your tenure clock when you have a child. The policy applies equally to men and women, and to "natural" and adopted children.

In general, I support such policies and find them family friendly. But they make more sense at a research-heavy institution, where the "publish or perish" culture is stronger. Here, if one manages to teach one's classes, and maybe get a small article out in the year after your baby is born, you've done enough, and your tenure case won't be hurt (assuming is was strong before.)

I was asked by our Sainted Department Chair to stop my tenure clock when my son was born. She didn't think I needed to do so from a professional perspective, but no social scientist at Tiny U had ever stopped their tenure clock to have a child. She wanted someone to break the barrier, and she preferred it be someone whose tenure case was very strong. I ended up not doing so because I want to go up for early tenure.

And that's my problem with the policy. The only way to get a raise around here is to get promoted, since we've had frozen or cut wages almost every year since I arrived. Therefore, I would like to go up for tenure one year early (next year). I will have to petition the dean and department to allow me to shave one year off my required service period. I have reason to believe the department will grant my petition, but some people do have a negative reaction to junior faculty who ask for promotion when they don't seem to have "done their time."

If the new policy had been in effect two years ago, and my clock had been automatically stopped when my son was born, I would now have to petition to have two years (in effect) taken off of my required service. Hopefully, the faculty would understand that one of those years wasn't a "real" year off. Six weeks of maternity leave does not equal a year off of teaching! But it still could be a problem/annoyance to some young faculty members who are hoping to go up for tenure early.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

modernity and fish

An interesting article on the use of shellfish by Neandertals, this time 150kya in Spain. It's not too surprising, since Neandertals used shellfish there, and in other parts of the Mediterranean, in later periods, but this puts Neandertal use of shellfish almost as far back as the Pinnacle Peak finds in South Africa.

This brings up the issue of fishing and shellfishing as signs of modernity, as well as issues of diet breadth among premodern peoples. I'm not surprised to find Neandertals had the behavioral plasticity to use marine resources. I've always assumed that the use of fish, shellfish, and small game is a reflection of environmental/economic/demographic circumstances, rather than of inherent ability. Perhaps this find will strengthen that interpretation.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

YouTube's Hohokam Archaeology Channel

YouTube has a new Hohokam Archaeology channel. It's mostly peopled with silver-backs right now, but I hope to see more diversity soon. Sure, most Hohokam archaeologists are older white men, but we could include a few older white women, too, right? Maybe even branch out into younger scholars? I also hope to see some diversity of topics (not just generalist/ceramicist archaeology, but also fauna, p-bot, lithics sourcing, stable isotope analysis, etc.) I assume production costs are relatively low, so this would be a nice opportunity to integrate some of the diversity of approaches and people that work in the region.