Friday, September 05, 2008

Oh crap.

We have a little—very little—and casual research discussion group for grad students in our department. Even though I'm no longer a grad student, as a founder of this group (and because I am totally in denial), I still attend. We basically meet once a week and drink coffee while chatting about research-related topics. The idea is to get used to talking about our research in a non-confrontational arena, as well as to get helpful feedback when we are stuck.

For a while, there used to be 8–12 people attending. Now it's sometimes just two or three of us.

One of the members, unbeknown to the rest of us, and because she is a total fruit-loop invited the Pro Vice-Chancellor to come and observe us. (This was back when there were 8–10 of us, and because the Pro Vice-Chancellor* had publicly expressed interest in small, grass-roots, self-bootstrapping learning communities, or whatever the current jargon is.)

So she's coming. On Monday.

Um. Gah?

I am currently alternating between deciding to not come along on Monday at all because I am far too embarrassed*** and calling everyone I know and offering bribes if they will turn up and pretend to be a member of the group so that we look slightly more together and impressive than we are.


* Do you have these in Foreign Parts? They're like the Vice Chancellor**, except they actually do the work.

** The Vice Chancellor is much more important than the Chancellor. The chancellor of this university, for instance, has explicitly declared that he plans to visit this city (you know, the city where the university that he chancels is actually located) as little as possible during his term in charge, because his role is purely ceremonial.

*** Actual conversation between me and Fruit-Loop Valued Group Member:
Me - "But we have no one turning up! And we basically just complain about the department!"
FL - "It's okay. The PVC is very professional. She understands how these things work.
I'm not embarrassed to have her there, no matter how few people come along.
Me (totally grown-up and justifiable response—inside my head only) - Fine then. I won't come either. See how you like THAT.


The History Enthusiast said...

She does sound like a fruit loop! I hope it goes well, nonetheless.

Psych Post Doc said...

Good luck.

I belonged to a similar group in grad school. We'd have Friday AM breakfast and research talk. We were a bit more formalized with one specific person getting feedback on an idea, or a paper, or a finding they wanted to talk about. It was a great experience.

Juggling Frogs said...

1. Send out an email, and use every available social networking tool, to let anyone and everyone who has attended or is eligible to attend that the AVP is coming.

2. In that email, request that if someone has something to say but can't attend, to forward that question/comment to you.

3. Mention that there will be FOOD of some very specific and unhealty sort at the meeting. (Jelly donuts. Coffee cake. Jelly beans. Cheetos. Mushroom pizza.)

4. Have a humorous but slightly panicked tone in the notice. "Come explain how content you are with this place to the AVP" or "If you don't have anything you want to share with the AVP, then just come for the mushroom pizza..." (Or something actually funny that you think up.)

5. Start a list, and brainstorm on it every valid complaint that anyone has expressed in the life of the group.

6. Add anything to the list as the replies/regrets pile up.

7. On the day of the even, either you'll have WAY too many people, or not enough. If too few, explain to that AVP that when you mentioned in the announcement that he/she was coming, a number of people responded that they couldn't attend. Explain that, perhaps they were intimidated and wanted privacy. But, they did want their voices heard, and you happen to have this handy list, that you just started complaining on Monday....

8. Enjoy the pizza!

9. Good luck!

Juggling Frogs said...

Oops. 7 was a spellcheck Freudian slip. I had misspelled "compiling" but clicked "okay" on "complaining", which, in context, fits a bit.

Should be "compiling".

Juggling Frogs said...


10. Have Ms. Fruit Loop chair the meeting.

StyleyGeek said...

So the PVC double-booked herself and now isn't coming for about a month. That at least gives me time to carry out Juggling Frogs suggestions. Except for the one where I get Fruit Loop to chair the meeting. Because now? She isn't going to be there.