Last night I had dinner with several of my graduate students, and they spent a lot of time ranting about my colleague, Professor Troll. Some of their stories and impersonations of his more annoying characteristics were very funny, in a you-might-as-well-laugh-even-though-it’s-not-really-funny kind of way, and we laughed together a lot.
At one point, when one of the students made a remark about how patronizing and rude the Troll is to students, I said “Not just to students. He’s like that to everyone”. I wanted them to know at least that. I don’t know if that was any comfort to them, but they should know that I will most certainly not insist that he be on their committees, even though his field of expertise is relevant in some cases. On the contrary, I will make sure that he is not on their committees. It’s fine if they discuss their research with him, but I don’t want any of them to be in a position where he has power over their graduate program/future/career.
I was quite restrained in my level of participation of the anti-Troll rant. My students had enough stories of their own, and they are under no illusions about what I think of my colleague. They are also well aware that he thinks I am an intellectually defective, non-rigorous poser of a science professor. Perhaps the conversation was unprofessional, but mostly it was good to laugh about it together.
12 years ago
There are professional dinners? Mostly they seem to be used for informal discussion.
Anyway, by the sound of it, a professional discussion would have lead to the formulation of a strategy to get him removed from the university.
Don't know if that would have been better.
Yeah, I can't help saying slightly unprofessional things about some people in my department in a social, drinking setting. I try to avoid it, but at least I'm not as bad as what other people say. I'm a horrible person.
But usually, by the time I get to the point of saying unprofessional stuff about people in absentia, I have probably consumed enough alcohol to have a really bad headache the next day as penance.
Some of them deserve it though. Especially this old professor who sounds very much like the troll you describe.
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