In this city famous for political activism, running the University of California campus can be a pressure-cooker.As a student, you don't always notice things like the on-the-job pressures of your professors and the administration until someone kills herself. For most of my time at Colgate we had no president. Our interim president, Jane Pynchon, was a wonderful teacher who had the most hilarious voice. She sounded like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets.
Then Rebecca Chop became the school's president in 2002. My high school foreign language teacher, who also went to Colgate, told me that the dish was she was fleeing a scandal at Yale's divinity school, where she had previously been ensconced. The general manager at the store where I worked quit because he anticipated the store would have a bad annual review.
I was deterred from looking into English programs when I finished my junior year because I thought the politics and pressure wouldn't really justify the commitment graduate school requires: several years of living in near-poverty, ephemeral job opportunities and potential insulation from the world-at-large. But after almost being in the world-at-large, I think it's probably worth while. It's kind of depressing to work in an office surrounded by mid-thirties co-workers whose boring lives start to rub off on you.
I've lost two professors (i.e., they lost their jobs) that I wish I still had, one at Colgate who frequently slept with his students, and another at Saint John's who failed to receive tenure. No-ones really there fighting for you in the last garrison; no one except yourself, etc. A longstanding inclination of mine is to think that the cream will rise. (And that Wittgenstein's insights are generally correct.)