My old nemesis, the Infernal Internal Fellowship Coordinator, has reared her head yet again. I think this is the part where karma comes back to bite me in the butt.
Last spring, I was drafted into becoming a coordinator myself. Not of Infernal Internal Fellowships, but of gender studies. Normally, I try to avoid anything even remotely resembling administrative work. I know my limits and prefer to stay within their borders. Administrative work is very much outside of those borders. If my borders are at, say, Maine, then administrative work is way over on the Great Wall of China. Which is to say that I tried to squirm out of this position like a worm on a hook.
Nevertheless, I was coaxed into it by promises that the only responsibilities on our campus were teaching the introduction to gender studies class, sponsoring the gender studies club, and overseeing a production of The Vagina Monologues. Since the gender studies club never meets because most of the women who are interested also have busy schedules, since the outgoing coordinator loves to direct and would help on the production, since there is no budget whatsoever to manage, and no scheduling since this is more of a confederacy of courses than a department -- in other words, there would be very little to coordinate -- I figured, "what the hell?" For better or worse, I could be a more active feminist this way simply by introducing feminist ideas to young women (and the stray young men who wander haplessly into the class -- don't get me started on "Moe," or their reactions to The Vagina Monologues!)
This semester I have been sitting in on the intro course to see how the current professor structures it. She's also been giving me her advice about what works and doesn't in regard to the club and the production. Sitting in on the class has actually been enlightening. I didn't expect myself to react so strongly to some of the students' opinions, and I'll have to keep an eye on that when I teach the course to ensure that I stay in the teacher role rather than the activist-feminist role. I will have to remind myself that I'm not engaging them in an ideological battle. The ideological battle will be between themselves and the world. I will be arming them with concepts and ideas that they can examine and evaluate, accept or reject. At least, that's the plan. I may be sorely wrong.
But, I drift from my story here in a tangent to the deep background. The deep background is, first, that I am slated to be the gender studies coordinator and, second, that crap that I went through with that Infernal Internal Fellowship Coordinator last spring.
The summer passed as it did, and we all returned to work in September. Fortunately, the Coordinator works at another campus, so I never have to see her. Ever.
Then, she sent me an e-mail (did I tell you about this?). She forwarded me some article or another that I think was supposed to prove her point (whatever the hell it was), and then she offered her assistance when I take on the gender studies position because -- oh, yes -- she once held this position on our campus. Wishing to neither alienate nor engage her further, I sent a terse "thank you" reply.
Maybe the terse reply was a bit bitchy. I'm pretty sure that she would interpret it that way since, based on my experience with her, she probably wanted effusive "thank yous" and long apologies about how sorry I am that I left the fellowship and so on and so forth. I can only dish out so much bullshit, and the day had been filled with meetings. In any case, that should have been the end of it.
The current gender studies coordinator also had to deal with the Fellowship Coordinator many years ago. She has very little to say that is nice about the Fellowship Coordinator. Recently, she had to go to a meeting involving the Fellowship Coordinator. The Fellowship Coordinator approached her and told her to beware of me, that "we had some trouble with her last spring." Of course, "it is all confidential," she told my colleague, "but call me if you want to know more." My colleague told her, "well, I've had a good experience with her."
Understand, as much as I've vented about this story in this space, I have confined my venting to this space and to friends who don't work at my college. I've only told my story to the dean, two chairs, and my gender studies colleague. I was also very careful not to implicate the FC directly in my stories, using a lot of "theys" and passive voice. Every one of them said, "it was her, wasn't it?" Either I wasn't being elliptical enough, there weren't too many candidates for "they," or everyone knew her methods.
The gender studies colleague sure did. "That sounds like something FC would do," my colleague said. "Was FC involved in this?"
My party line has been, "it was a bad fit" or "it just didn't work out." That seemed to be the best shine to put on the whole affair, and then leave it behind. No one has given two shits about it since the summer. Now, here she is, bringing it up again, which seems kind of stupid. I mean -- hell! -- if I were her, I'd sit back and laugh at me now taking on a coordinating position. "Let's see how she likes it being on this end," I would say. Then I would watch me flounder around, laughing to myself the whole time. But to actively try to poison people against me? Maybe she thinks that she's saving everyone from me. Maybe she thinks that she's saving her old job from me.
Or maybe she's just a control freak who thinks that she lost a round and wants to make sure that a dissenting voice knows her place. I'm rather hoping others see this as being as childish and vindictive as I do.
My gender studies colleague sure did. "That' just like FC," she said. "Trying to stir up drama and make everything into a big DEAL when she doesn't have to."
Like I said, this may be where the fellowship karma comes back to bite me in the butt; but I'm not too worried about it.