Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Moronic bureaucracy

One of the main things that I hate about the academic sector is its completely uncontrollable bureaucracy. There are dozens of examples every month. But this one may be a representative one.

One of the students in the Fall course was ill and could not attend the final exam. A trivial thing that is likely to happen in most courses with more than 30 students. Mark Trodden was very nice and helpful and supervised the exam of the student at home in Central New York, assuring the same conditions. Everything worked as it should and the student could receive the grade with others. The grade included the score from the final exam - the same exam as others had solved.

I submitted the full grade sheet. But since that time, I have received letters, e-mails, and complicated forms roughly from 10 different places at Harvard - a genuine attack of the dragons - "informing" me that the student's grade is incomplete and I should prepare a new exam in March and all this bullshit. I have tried to explain everyone that the grade is complete and that there can't be any new exam because there has been one and the student already knows the problems, but to no avail.

The final grade sheet they just sent me has an "ABS" on it, after roughly 10 or 20 hours spent on this special "project". It's like 50 blog articles of time ;-) completely wasted just on this single stupidity. Guess which one I consider to be a better and more enjoyable time investment. I think that under normal circumstances, the bureaucrat who is primarily responsible for these repeated errors should be immediately fired. This could happen in the commercial sector.

At the university, there are obviously hundreds of bureaucrats who are used that their main job is to annoy everyone else and waste the time of others. They are not responsible to anyone, no one really knows their names, and no one has the tools to criticize them. And dozens of new bureaucrats are being added (and transformed from scholars) every month. Various diversity committees that are designed to irritate and intimidate everyone are ones of the most recent examples.

Of course, at the university, no one can really fire these people because once you show that you want to fire them, you immediately face protests from the unions, left-wing lunatics, and all these segments. When a powerless person like me gets caught into a bureaucratic hole like one described above, which is very often, it is an unlimited time sink and an unlimited source of frustration. A bummer. And you can guess how many similar pseudoproblems one must permanently solve.

Moreover, the radical Left is designed to increase the amount of these pseudoproblems. Uncontrollable bureaucracy is not just an unpleasant by-product of their policies and ideology; it is the very purpose of it. The number of people who have behaved in a completely inappropriate way in this seemingly innocent story all but destroys any hopes that these problems could be corrected in finite time. The only solution is to escape because these things just won't go away.

1 comment:

  1. Lubos:

    You have my sympathy in having to deal with this headache with the bureaucrates.

    A lesson you should learn, is that it's all the trouble caused by your big mouth. How you arranged the examination for the sick student, out of your own kindness, should really be considered a private matter and should be protected as personal privacy of the few persons involved, you, Mark, and the student. You should not have talked about the thing with any one else out of respect of the student's privacy. The last thing you should do is brag about it on a publicly accessible blog.

    Clearly, one of your natural enemy with academy saw your blog entry, and thought that's a good opportunity to "GET YOU". Some one must have filed a complaint with the school authority. No one would have give this a damn but if there is an outstanding complaint, then the school authority will have to act in a bureacratic way to protect their own ass. It's an unfortunate fact of life.

    I hope you get well and learn to be a little bit more streetwise after this incident. The academy is a very dirty circle just like the politicians.

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