English department’s infighting must stop

If a college department’s internal problems have gotten so out of hand that they makes the front page of the St. Petersburg Times, it should be obvious to all parties involved that the practices leading to the disagreements0 have to stop.

The top story in Tuesday’s Times spelled out what various stories by The Oracle have: While it is not clear where the lines are drawn that separate the factions, USF’s English department is divided into groups which, in some instances, have been at each other’s throats for years. Be it sexism, sexual misconduct, misuse of equipment or funds being diverted to further personal interests, everything that should not go on in an institution of higher education has been alleged.

Some of these allegations have been proven, and disciplinary action has been taken. This was a chance for the department to move on, yet its staff members chose to continue the old tricks.

To make matters worse, many grievances that have been filed on the aforementioned charges appear to have little basis in fact. It rather seems that the grievances were used to politicize the department even further.

This does not only mean that the atmosphere in the department was and is needlessly poisoned, it also complicates the work of graduate students, as they often have to work very closely with professors. Instructors will also be less focused in class if infighting within the department distracts them. In both instances, students are put at a disadvantage.

The misuse of such grievances also leads to neglect of legitimate ones. If sexual misconduct grievances are filed en masse and turn out to be false, it will be more difficult to deal with one that actually has basis in fact.

Most saddening, though, is that college professors and staff members should not have to resort to such ridiculous infighting. Why is it that professors who teach the use of language in the classroom cannot solve problems via dialogue?

It appears that this time it is up to the students to instruct the teachers: Break it up and shake hands.