I met with the dean today. She wanted to talk with me about the gender studies' coordinator position; but, mostly, she wanted to know what went on in that damn Internal Fellowship last year.
Why now? Why -- what is it, five, six -- months later, when everyone should have moved on? Well, it seems that not everyone has moved on yet. The Infamous Infernal Internal Fellowship Coordinator has not simply been saying catty things about me to the current gender studies' coordinator. No, no. Our old nemesis has actually been running a smear campaign against me all over her own campus. She, it seems, has been telling anyone and everyone --
"confidentially," mind you -- that I'm abusive, inappropriate, threatening, and trouble. She uses a few other words, too. None favorable. These are just the ones that I remember.
Why, oh, why can I not use my power for good?!
Sadly, she seems to have smeared me to such a degree that now certain administrators at her campus aren't sure that I should be the gender studies coordinator at my campus. Remember, of course, that gender studies at my campus involves something like four instructors with as many classes and no budget. There isn't a whole heck of a lot to actually coordinate. In other words, this is not a high-profile, high-responsibility job (hence, I'm cool with taking on the position, and equally cool with letting it go).
Also, understand that these administrators are not at my campus. In fact, I don't think that I've ever met any of them in person, and I know that they couldn't pick me out of a line-up. They are judging me merely by what the Coordinator says and little else.
On my campus, however, people cast a jaundiced eye toward anything coming out of that other campus. They know the culture of "everything is perfect! Isn't everything perfect? Oh, look! The Emperor is wearing such a lovely outfit today, isn't he?" They also know me.
"Clio?" my dean asked, when told that I am a destructive pariah. "Are you sure?"
The dean then did a little background work, asking other people who know me and work with me if they had ever noticed such vicious behavior. "Clio?" they asked. "Are you kidding?"
So, today, the dean and I had a little chat about all of this, and I told her my side of the story.* She was a bit astounded at what I had gone through, and not at all pleased by the behavior of the Coordinator, especially the bit about censoring me and about attributing words and feelings to other people when they did not say those words or express those feelings. As I told the story to the dean, I found myself a bit astounded, too. What idiocy! What paranoia! Who pursues a vendetta against a person who is in no way a threat, with whom they have no contact whatsoever? (Do I even want to know?)
Fortunately, the dean backs me up. She knows the Coordinator and has a bit of an understanding of her personality. In fact, she struggled to find a diplomatic way to describe the Coordinator and finally settled on, "she tends to blow things way out of proportion."
That was also not the first time that I had heard that about the Coordinator.
The dean has already been defending me, and indicated that she intends to continue to do so. She also gave me suggestions about ways to "rehabilitate" my "image" to the administrators at that other campus. I resent this a bit because, let's face it, I think that they -- or at least the Coordinator -- need to rehabilitate their image with me. Still, this is the hand that I've been dealt, and I will play it with ease. After all, the dean wasn't suggesting that I do anything that requires me to kiss up to anyone. She just suggested that I do some of the things that I already do, like facilitate discussion and give presentations on my research, but to make sure that more, key people know about it in order to demonstrate the cognitive dissonance between the Coordinator's depiction of me and the reality of me. I already have allies willing to help with this. Allies who have narrowly missed walking down this road in these shoes themselves.
After the meeting, I was a bit angry. Not furious, pissed off, "hold me back or I'll hurt the bitch" angry. Nor, "I suck, I'm a horrible, delusional person" angry. No, this was more an indignation, an annoyance that I have to deal with something more appropriate to a junior high social clique.
The annoyance passed and now I'm actually quite amused. How does the saying go? "The fights are so vicious because the stakes are so low." What a sad little woman this Coordinator is. What a silly little game she's playing. Anyone who knows me or comes in contact with me can figure out something akin to reality for themselves.
Now, I'm feeling a bit like I should do a Superior Dance.
*Incidentally, this dean is not the one that I met with at the beginning of the summer -- the one who granted me a stay of execution by allowing me out of the fellowship. That dean has gone on to bigger and better things. The current dean is her replacement. She is proving to be much cooler and better at administering than the previous dean, who was pretty damn solid herself.