2 min read

wtf uw 1: how can you treat people like that?

I’m just a statistician trying to write software, devise statistical methods, and muck around with data, to help my scientific collaborators. I’ve had no formal training in the politics of higher education, or even in teaching for that matter. But ugh the shit that’s been happening around UW-Madison lately. I need to follow the example of Anatole Beck and start speaking up and speaking out.

Yvonne Kim wrote two articles in the Capital Times in the last year that really pissed me off:

Sharad Chandarana had taught in the UW-Madison math department since 1985. But he had not had a permanent position. Rather, they gave him temporary appointments for a semester or a year at a time. And the math department was careful to offer only a few consecutive years of teaching at a time before laying him off for a couple of semesters, because there’s a university policy that says if you’ve been teaching for three or more years they have to give you a proper position with benefits.

2020 – 1985 = 35 years, ffs

The email he got from the department on 5 March 2020 said, “As you know, the university does not allow short term instructor hires for more than 3 years in a row, after 3 years the position would need to be converted into a permanent one. There are no current plans for such a position. I am really sorry about this situation, but because of this I cannot offer you a teaching assignment for next year.”

Sharad complained, and the math department forwarded his complaint to the Academic Staff Appeals Committee, which ultimately voted not to process his grievance because the department did not violate university policy. He alleged violation of Academic Staff Policies and Procedures, but they said that didn’t apply to him because he had never held a teaching appointment for three consecutive years.

The university’s treatment of Sharad over his career (from aged 30 to 65, it seems) was just so terrible. And then to say “Well, it was in accordance with the rules,” ugh somehow that’s even more embarrassing.

On 21 March 2021, Sharad announced that he was moving to Florida.