End of Term Follies

Yesterday, a minute before I was to leave my office, a student stopped in to ask if I could be the third member of her honors' thesis committee, who would be "meeting tomorrow for the defense."

It's a busy end of the term here, not just because of it being my last term, but also because of the workload. I've already served on two honors committees. I'm supervising 17 senior research projects. I've got portfolios from 21 students, and essay exams from 12 others. Also, I have an article to restructure. I've no business on last minute committees.

Naturally, I said yes.

The topic seemed interesting, and I've known the student through some of the causes happening on campus this year. It felt wrong to say no.

And now I've read the thesis, and I realize that there's a reason there was no third committee member. And worse, I don't think they could have been thinking about what my own research and interests are or they wouldn't have asked me to be on this because there's almost no way I can avoid shredding this.

What's frustrating, though, is that I tried to speak with the chair about this, and there seemed to be little recognition of the problems and even less interest in hearing out my difficulties so they might either prepare the student or their own defense of this. Because at the end of the day, a failed thesis defense - and that's what I think this might wind up being - is a failure of the committee.


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