Nightmares, Hillbilly Parents, and the Legacy of Johnny Cash

Have you had a chance to watch the mini-series Country Music by Ken Burns? We spent several nights glued to our TV learning a lot about Country Music.  When I was a kid, we never heard the term “Country Music.”  Most of the earlier music was called “Hillbilly” or “Mountain” music.  Somehow the title of “Country” won out over “Country and Western” with Hillbilly taking a back seat.   But “Country” does not represent all of the music of the mountains in Kentucky and Tennessee.

We had proud Hillbilly parents.  They knew how gorgeous the mountains were when compared with the noisy, dirty, cracked cement of the cities.  Mom was from Holly Hill near Pine Knot, Kentucky.  Dad was from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee.  Both grew up in destitute circumstances.  Mom said that they were so poor that they never even noticed the depression of the 1930’s.  Dad’s childhood home was a log-cabin where rain and snow streamed in on them during storms.  In fact, government money under Roosevelt brought a little affluence to the hollows.

I listened to Hillbilly music every day while growing up in Michigan.  The small green radio sitting on a shelf in the kitchen played all of the time when we were home.  I never consciously chose to listen to Hillbilly music, like osmosis, it became a part of my DNA.  And I have never been a fan of cowboy-boots-stomping guitar-spitting tunes.  But, as a friend said after watching the mini-series, it is amazing how many of the tunes were implanted in our brains.

I have never been a fan of Johnny Cash either.  (My first piano teacher thought he was god’s gift to the world.) Of course, I watched the movie, “Walk the Line,” and could sing along to “Folsom Blues.”  But I always thought of him as an anti-hero.

Ken Burns changed my mind.  Cash was portrayed as a sort of Robinhood of music.  He identified with those in society that were down and out or felt the sting of discrimination.  (Or, he used this as a marketing tool to sell more albums.)  In many ways he was as brilliant as he was obsessed with many genres of music.  Johnny was a thoughtful man but he also fought demons deep inside his heart and mind.  He acknowledges this in a quote, “Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one. Cash causes all the trouble. They fight.”

For the past few days I have been listening to some of his celebrated albums.  He won at least 18 Grammys (and scores of other tributes). The first cut that startled me was “The Man Comes Around.”  Written by Cash, this song captures the darkest moments in the Book of Revelation.  It jarred me.  He understands the wicked unfairness of those who are chosen and those who are not.  Here is an excerpt of the lyrics:


And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder
One of the four beasts saying,
‘Come and see,’ and I saw, and behold a white horse”

There’s a man goin’ ’round takin’ names
And he decides who to free and who to blame
Everybody won’t be treated all the same
There’ll be a golden ladder reachin’ down
When the man comes around

The hairs on your arm will stand up
At the terror in each sip and in each sup
Will you partake of that last offered cup
Or disappear into the potter’s ground?
When the man comes around

Hear the trumpets hear the pipers
One hundred million angels singin’
Multitudes are marchin’ to the big kettledrum
Voices callin’, voices cryin’
Some are born and some are dyin’
It’s alpha and omega’s kingdom come
And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree
The virgins are all trimming their wicks
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree
It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks

Till armageddon no shalam, no shalom
Then the father hen will call his chickens home
The wise man will bow down before the throne
And at his feet they’ll cast their golden crowns
When the man comes around.”

Undergirding these chilling scenes is a piano that marches on the lower keys and makes your heart beat very fast. (What a tune!)  The guitars scratch out a machine-like melody that sounds like a horse coming toward you.  What a wake-up call!  Here is the tune:  “When the Man Comes Around.” 

Another chilling tune sung but not written by Cash, is the “Mercy Seat.”  While I am a Biblical Scholar and have written about the Bible all of my career, I was never interested in investigating the “mercy seat” which was the name for the lid of the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible/First Testament.

This tune tells the story of a man on death row as he faces the end.  The mercy seat is the electric chair? He claims he was framed but is not afraid to die.  In the end he says, “I lied.”  What does this mean?  Did he lie about the killing or lie about his fear of death?  What a song!  Once you hear it, you won’t forget it.  Here is the tune:  “Mercy Seat.”

While I did not listen to all of Cash’s tunes, I found most of the tunes he sang later in life to be gritty, violent, vindictive, lonesome, remorseful, and often, pathological.  Dying and suffering are interwoven into the lyrics of many tunes.  Jesus pops up a lot.  I kept wondering what he did in life that made him so hardened, so depressed?  (Maybe it was a persona he created?) His brother died when he was young and according to the Ken Burns film, his father wished that Johnny had died instead of his brother. But there has to be more that is not known!

The haunting sadness in his voice underscores the grieving in many tunes.  “Delia, If I had not shot Delia, I would have her for my wife.”  WHAT?  Then there is a story about gun practice where the main character shoots a rider just for fun.  WHAT?  Mary (an Irish tune) dies one cold night at the doorstep while trying to wake her father.  In the end her baby and the father die also.  An ex con dies on his way home in the highly acclaimed tune, “Give my Love to Rose.”  Cash asks a lover to lie in a field of stones and wonders in another song if he is one of the field of stars in the sky.  (Was he on something? LSD?)  Sandwiched in between some of these songs are questions about sinners and the blood of the lamb and the hymn, “Why me Lord.”  Cash was a complicated divided soul.

Certainly, many of the tunes sung by Cash grew out of real-life circumstances of being exploited, convicted or falsely convicted of crimes, failed relationships, and a hope for redemption.  I wonder if he found it?

While listening to all of this grit and violence, I began thinking about my parents.  Their lives were also punctuated by violence, fear, physical harm, starvation, and lack of opportunities.  Hank Williams was one of their heroes.

My mother did not finish high school because she had no shoes or good clothing, only flour sacks for dresses. She was ashamed.  At twelve my father was yanked from elementary school to work the farm.  A plow horse shattered his arm, an arm he could never use for the rest of his life.  He loved learning but never came back to it.  He faced the awfulness of personal death at 19 when his first wife died in childbirth.

Mom’s early relatives.

Both of my parents escaped the grueling poverty of the South to liberating factory jobs in Detroit.  (Yes, Detroit saved them.) They did not succumb to drugs, killings, or even an over-powering haunting religion.  They were the lucky ones.   But they still worked day and night to make a life for themselves and their children.

A few years ago, I tried to capture the lives of my mother and father in the South and then in Detroit in the book, “Life Everlasting and the Twelve Mile Blues.” I began to realize the wonderfulness of being born in the South.  Here is an excerpt,

“There is a song that I have in my head that never goes away.  It is a song of the pines and the wind coming through the valley.  It pulls me south to the mountains, to Jellico and Marsh Creeks, to the voices and places that filled my childhood.  There is quietness in those meandering waters and soulful people.  I understand their mountain spirits.  I understand their pain, a pain born out of hope for a better life–a better tomorrow.  It is a mystical sadness that finds itself at odds with the modern world that seems to have lost sight of its own humanity.

Certainly, Johnny Cash would have understood some of what I am trying to communicate above!  If you are interested in reading it, look for “Life Everlasting and the Twelve Mile Blues” on Amazon. Click on the title.

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Most of the tunes for this piece were found on the albums,  American III.  Solitary Man (2000) and American IV.  The Man Comes Around (2002).  Photos were not copyrighted and taken from Wikipedia.




Posted in Country Music, Detroit, Hillbilly Tunes, Johnny Cash, Ken Burns and Country Music, Kentucky, Life Everlasting and the Twelve Mile Blues, Tennessee, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mid-Twentieth Century Blues. Chapter Six. The Students

Once Inspiring, Students Became a Downdraft!

Teaching was an artform for me.  Early in my career, I gave up opportunities to advance to administrative positions because I loved being in the classroom.  Student discussions were vibrant.  Cracking open a window to other cultures and beliefs for students was a satisfying experience.

It made me happy!  And they were happy too!  I guess that is the reason that I created over 30 different courses in my career. Learning was taking place in the classroom, in my office, when I visited the library, at conferences, and in conversations with students.  It was the best job on the planet!

You and Me

We started together, you and me. We were new on campus.  We found new friends and faced new challenges.  Some of us were away from our family for the first time.  We struggled together.  We listened to each other.  We even shouted at each other.

Somehow we managed to say “Good Morning” to each other.  Each day we met to discuss a new way of looking at religions.

You and me, we even grew up a little.  You and me, we made it through dull days, high days, lonely days, low days, snow days, test days, homework days, think days, and project days.  You and me….  I’m so glad that we made it to the end together!

                                                                                   Marla J. Selvidge

This poem was composed following my first semester of teaching after receiving my PhD.  at a very small private college.  Life and teaching was very different in 1981 than it is now.  In the beginning, students were more respectful and generally eager to learn. In the beginning students were dedicated. Those years were spent teaching in private colleges or universities. As the years wore on, the students wore out. They did not necessarily enroll in college to learn.

At my last college, I experienced a hostile breed of students who feared other religions.  They were shocked at each world religion we studied so they began an assault. Besides the notes and hideous cartoons placed under my door, students also taped my lectures and brought them to the president to prove that I was teaching “heresy,” whatever that meant to those students. There were flyers taped on my door and letters to the editor in the school newspaper. (I wish I had saved more of these.)  Here are a few of the notes that were placed under my door:

“Dear Dr. Selvidge, My Sunday School class decided to tell you about the Bible.  They said, “Believe in the Bible.” The reason why you need to believe in the Bible is because, “It’s True!”  You need to believe in God. You love him.  We are going to pray that you will believe in the Bible.”

Eight students signed this note.  I suppose I received it because I was teaching the history and development of the New Testament rather than using the bible as a rulebook or spiritual giode by which to live.  Another note came with an invitation to meet with “Spirit-filled Christians.”

Come and join us if you can stand being that close to the Holy Spirit.”

Another student seemed to think that I was making fun of Christians and invited me to her  church so that I would learn about “real” Christianity.  I was teaching  the history of Christianity about which she had never been exposed!

Misguided students haunted my office.  One wanted to bring his denomination on campus and teach classes in his faith.  He argued that other colleges did it.  But I argued that as a state university we have to be neutral with regard to religions. We cannot teach faith.  We can teach about the religions but not teach people to be religious.  He was very upset and complained to everyone he knew that I was discriminating against his faith.

A Muslim student did not like a cartoon that he said was posted on one of the bulletin boards outside my office.  He complained to a professor in another department and they came down to reprimand me.  Their ammunition was verbal abuse.  But, they could not find the cartoon?  Maybe the student had seen it on another bulletin board?  They were so irate I had to call security.  And the professor sent an apology to me after being counseled by security and his chair.

I received many letters from one student who claimed he was the Messiah.

I still believe that I am the Messiah, especially the David of   Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and the Psalms.  And I also believe I am “The faithful and True Witness, the First-born of the Dead, and The Root and Stock of David….”

    Well, Marla, what I am trying to say throughout this whole       letter is that I am lonely for intellectual stimulation, and would like to hear from you. I would be glad to answer all of your questions.”

What did he say to me?

 Should Everyone Go to College?

Cartoon by Chan Lowe published in the KC Star on 11/8/15

Cartoon by Chan Lowe published in the KC Star on 11/8/15

Chan Lowe created a visual portrait of higher education in the United States “The American Undergrad’s Prayer.”  He drew a student by the side of a bed, in tears, praying.

O, Lord!  Please protect me from campus killing rampages so that I may earn my worthless degree and drown in student debt forever and ever,  AMEN.”  

This creative soul captured the tragic feelings of many lost undergraduates in our country but his view is very narrow.  Earning cash is not everything in life.  There are a lot of other values that propel people to attend college.

Many students don’t know what they want today.  They can’t see their own future and this is the despair that is reflected in the above cartoon.   They are so wrapped up in their phones, their games, their sport’s teams and parties, that they don’t have time to think about the importance of those wonderful classes in which they are enrolled.

I have alluded to this point earlier. Working your way through college will not harm you; in fact, I think it could improve grades because students are forced to discipline themselves.  Before the proliferation of grants and scholarships, this is the way that many people made their way through college.  When I graduated with a Ph.D., I had no debt and I had attended private, very expensive colleges.    There is no reason for a student to borrow a $100,000 for an education.

And the top officials of universities are in the same bucket.  They cannot see their own future, either.  They are wrapped up in their own careers, and salaries, and influence, to the detriment of our students. They are also lost, and so they lead the students into a bitter darkness reflected in this cartoon.

One of the colleges where I taught bragged that 95% of students had a job after college. That was a great misleading marketing strategy. The numbers game did not reveal an honest portrait for hopeful students. Most students had part-time jobs before they graduated, and those part-time jobs were counted in that 95%.

Today parents and students think everyone should go to college. This is a mistake. Many students go to college in order to win a good-paying job. Everyone needs to gain many of the basic skills students should learn in college, but not every person should be in a college classroom.  If you want to go to college to win a “job” then don’t go to college.  Find a nice technical program somewhere that gives you the skills you need to get into the job market.

If driving a white Mercedes is your only goal, it takes only a couple of semesters, not four years, to obtain a web design certificate. Students with this certificate could be hired as a designer today at a good salary.  Study one programming language that is in vogue, and you will be given offers by several companies.  But you will have missed what I think is the heart of education, which is the humanities that connects with history, people, poetry, great literature, art, music, theatre, religious studies, and more. They should be exposed to ethics and cultures and languages of other countries. Understanding the past and where the future might lead must be at the center of their curricula.

Choosing to go to college for the sole purpose of finding a job is a”fundamental” error.  In the end, this type of thinking harms the student tremendously. They become empty people who cannot deal with diversity or adversity. Their creativity may have been compromised in their quest for economic security.

Another problem with the job only/money only trajectory is that by the time students graduate, their precious career goal might have gone south like my father’s company.  The most important goals students should have when they go to college are to prepare themselves to adapt to any type of job.

Many of the practical skills of living are left out of the curriculum of colleges and universities.  Students need to learn how to manage money and invest.  They need experience in understanding and financing a home and what it will take to make a successful and happy life with or without a partner and perhaps children. And they need to learn how to do their own taxes.

It seems that today parents need somewhere to park their children who are not working or productive in any way.  They send them to state colleges or universities because the tuition is cheap. I taught primarily general education courses and students thought they ought to just sit in a classroom and receive a superior grade.  They began to question everything a professor did in the classroom. They did not like the exercises, the videos, the presentation, the lively lectures, the music, the tests, and the grading.  I wanted them to be active learners and they just wanted to sit and play with their phones. Professors were being unfair when they graded according to specific rubric or requirement.

One volatile year on campus (There were marches where students protested and damaged buildings!) students got together in one of my classes and decided that they would not study for a test. I often based test grades on the highest achiever, so they reasoned that if no one studied and the highest grade was a 30 out of 100, I would give everyone an “A.”  Nowhere in the syllabus (a legal agreement) did I announce a practice of basing grades on the highest score.  But I did adjust grades when students were very poor.  When the grading was done after the above test, almost everyone scored a D or an F.  I decided not to curve the test. They decided to study for the next test.

No degree is worthless.  If you have studied well, you have learned how to read and write and communicate with the rest of the world.  These are basic skills that undergrads lack. Many of my students could not spell, write a good sentence, reason critically, and were extremely lazy and undisciplined.  They could not understand what was being offered to them, so they threw the time in college away.

When I was younger, most everyone I knew thought that my degree was worthless.  I have a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Greek.  But, I had a tremendous career with many different job opportunities, traveled the world, and created many, many books, made friends with people all over the planet, lectured on cruise ships, gave academic papers at national conferences, and more.  You learn to turn your degree into interesting pursuits.   Skills in the humanities are always relevant and will help you to re-create your future.

Disrespect In and Outside the Classroom

Students dared me to teach them anything!

Some students protested being in class by holding up newspapers in front of their faces during the entire hour.  (Why did they enroll in the class if they did not want to study the subject matter?) At one religious college where I taught, the brothers (religious)  did not like the idea of a woman teaching them.  Grown men sat in the back row of the classroom and read the newspaper or other books or talked to each other.  They would not allow me to control the classroom.  They wanted to control me.  They were offended that a “woman” was teaching them, so they punished me.  No amount of discussion or threat was going to control them.

And younger men did not want to be controlled either.  I have a vivid memory of a biker who sat in the front row of one of my classes.  He always wore leather and had spiked gloves with snaps that went all the way up his arms.  When he wanted the class to end he would put on one glove at a time very slowly and then snap them.  The snaps were louder than any activity going on in the classroom. So he gave the signal to the rest of the class that it was over.  Sometimes he would do this with twenty minutes left in the class.  No amount of discussion with him would stop him from snapping his gloves either.

Then there was the student who did not wear underwear. During summer classes, students usually wear shorts to class. This student wore short shorts with a huge hole right where the legs were seamed together.  He did not wear them for every class but he wore them often and everything hung out. (He was naked.)  How do you deal with these issues?

Then there was the woman with a baby who nursed it during class. (I never knew that nursing a baby could echo in a room.)  I had to ask her to leave when she was nursing. She thought I was picking on her. Then there was the woman who sat in the middle of the class, wore heavy perfume and  bustiers to class. Several of my male students dropped the class because of the smell of perfume and the lack of clothing.

One Religious Studies major sat in the front row of every class and would start talking about sports with students about three minutes before it was to begin.  Every day he would get into a shouting match with someone about a team. This meant that I could never start class on time.  I talked with him and pleaded with him but the behavior continued.  What do you do?  Challenge them to a wrestling match?  You can’t throw every mischievous kid out the door; you have to keep working with them to help them to overcome their anti-social behavior.  And humor does not work!

The real problem with mischievous students is that bureaucrats don’t want to lose a single student.  That would hurt their student-credit-hours bottom-line and cash.  They won’t set standards and generally won’t support faculty in the classroom.  And, students know they are “used” and they resent every minute of it, even though they know that they can cheat!

Guns, Guns, Guns

Since many students don’t belong in college nor do they want to be in college, they become restless and abusive.  I would guess that a lot of the problem lies with their inability to read or write or even to use a computer these days.  (The phone has replaced the computer!) Toward the end of my career, students would become volatile if you required them to shut down their smart phones. They were on edge!  One student stood outside my office swearing and walking back and forth threatening me.  Eventually he was taken out of one of my classes. Another female clenched her fist in my face after she received a grade she did not like.

A low level of violence always pervaded campuses whether in student housing, in the classroom, or….  It takes many forms, but generally it does not result in the loss of life. At one institution where I worked a faculty member was acquitted after being charged with killing his partner. Fear gripped us when a student killed a faculty member. Rumors claimed the professor was killed because he twice failed a student in a class the student needed to graduate.  But I always wondered if there was something else going on? And an international student killed a local student (no rumors on that one) but was scurried back to Saudi Arabia avoiding local prosecution.

And it was not unusual for students to push or shove or cause someone to fall when they left the classroom, especially if they disagreed with certain opinions of that student.  After a lecture by a Sufi in a World Religions class, one of my students in the back of the class stood up and yelled, “In my country, we would kill you.”  That professor never guest lectured in my class again!  Yes, I was talking to the dean of students often about unruly and uncontrollable students.  Was this really “higher” education?

Bad social behavior can turn into something else.  Students also used threats and guns to get their way.  In one night course that I taugh in New York, students were happy to demonstrate the small pistols they carried in their boots and placed up their sleeves.  Until that day, I had never seen a switchblade and many of the students carried them.  I never understood the reasons as to why my students wanted to share their weapons with me. Perhaps they wanted to “chill” the professor.  And one student did exactly that.

A failing student arrived at my office wearing a long brown raincoat one afternoon. He argued with me to change his grade to a “C.”  I showed him his work and said that he knew he had not earned a “C” but he argued that he had to have his grade changed.  At that moment, he went to his pocket and took out a very large handgun and laid it on my desk.  I was beyond shock. I could not speak!  He said that if I did not give him a “C” that he was going to use it on me.  How stupid I was.   I looked straight into his eyes and told him that I would not change his grade.

He did not shoot me, thankfully! I was lucky! But, I was in shock and never told anyone about the incident until 25 years later. I buried it somewhere in my soul, and I left that job by the end of the summer.

Today, I would handle the incident differently.  I would probably have told him sure I will change the grade, and then proceed to give him the grade he deserved.  I certainly would have alerted security.

No, No, No!!!  Don’t Teach Me to Write or Think!

 One of the most shocking things for professors to discover is that many students do not want to learn anything. Early in my career I gave essay tests.  I thought students should know how to read, write, and express themselves well in a class. After my first test of 30 students in an introductory class, twenty-five of the students came to complain about my grading and their grades.  I told them exactly how I graded and even gave them a grid so they could measure their work.  This did not work.

I gave another essay test and all of the students complained.  When I had three classes of 30 students, almost all of those 90 students came to see me about their grades.  One student stood up and screamed at me in front of all 130 students, “Who the hell are you to grade my writing!”  There was not enough time or energy to continue giving essay tests.  I gave up and began giving objective tests.  Not a single student complained (ever) about the tests then. They could guess their way through the test and the class.  Content and excellence were unimportant.

In upper division classes I continued to give essay tests and the complaints were few.  But general education classes continued to attract marginal students.  To this day, in the last quarter century of my teaching, I found very few students who could write a good sentence.  More of those students could not spell.  In the end, they were sending in their assignments using their cell phones without capitalization, punctuation, and no grammar at all.

Let me address the cell phone issue here.  Most of my students came from economically challenged homes.  They had a choice to make.  They could buy a phone or a computer but not both.  Of course, they chose the toy, the phone! And while the campus sported hundreds of computers students could use, they found it difficult to find their way to the labs or the library.  And, many students commuted so the computers on campus were of no use to them.  Some colleges get it right!  They give every student a computer upon entry.

I suppose many of the students thought that my classes were ONLY general education courses so they did not have to learn anything?  We are doing a dis-service to college-bound students when we socialize them into thinking that only their major classes have merit. They are told that classes outside their major are not important.  All the classes taken in college seek to broaden the minds of students and every class will add to a person’s life.

Cheating Your Way Through College

Athletes cheat. Moms and Dads cheat. Daughters and sons cheat. Bureaucrats cheat. Friends cheat. Faculty and Staff cheat. Majors cheat. Minors cheat. He cheats.  She cheats.  They all cheat!

When students do not value their education, they cheat.  I could write a book on how students cheated in my classes over the years.  Cheating was rampant in all of my college classes.  Even in online courses, students who were failing would hire someone to do the work for them. Sometimes students would send in assignments that were marginal.  Then, all of a sudden, the student would submit a perfect paper. When I asked the student as to how she could improve her grammar and spelling so quickly, she would drop the class or confess that someone else was doing the work.

A dozen athletes would enroll in the same class online on the same day. I monitored enrollment every day. One or more of the athletes would do the work and the rest would send in the same homework.  Or a student assigned to tutor an athlete would do the work.  I had to approach coaches with these issues and the cheating stopped for a semester or two and then resumed.

One soldier, as others had done, copied and pasted answers into his online test from an outside source.  He admitted he cheated but he thought it was the thing to do to pass the class.  “I will take my punishment!”  A husband-wife military team handed in the same work for their assignments.  They could not see anything wrong with what they were doing. Probably the one instance that pierced my heart the most was when a student majoring inReligious Studies handed in a semester project that she had downloaded from the web.  That was a heart breaker.

One summer a very pregnant student handed in a research paper that followed guidelines from several semesters in the past.  The topic was not even listed as an option for the class.  When faced with the obvious cheating, she was unrepentant. And this happened over and over again when students thought that they could hand in papers written by someone else years earlier.  Did they do this in other classes?

In meetings with faculty when I brought up the issue of cheating, they claimed that it did not happen?  Huh? The real question here is:  Were these faculty grading the student papers? Did they compare papers or tests?  Maybe they did not assign papers, projects, or tests? Faculty often complained that it was not their job to grade grammar or spelling, perhaps they just checked off the papers and never read them?

I discovered that students in some of my larger classes were paying students to take their tests for them.  I had already instituted a policy that students had to bring their school identification card (with their pictures) with them in order to take a test. I looked at every card and every student and found cards that did not match the student coming to the test. What a shock! “Oh, I was just helping out my friend by taking his test!”said students.

When I taught three sections of face-to-face classes, students would share information about the test in between classes.  By the end of the last class, students in that class always achieved grades that were at least 10% higher than the other classes.  I had to create different scales for each class and ended up creating three different tests to keep down the cheating.

In the end, there are only so many questions that can be created for a test. Greek societies on campus kept huge files of tests for all the professors.  One of my students shared this with me and showed me tests in a Greek file that went back several years.  Greek societies should be banned from campuses.  Many of them teach students to circumvent rules and cheat.  These corrupt values are embraced by their members and follow them into their careers.

Greek societies can also be brutal.  We have all heard about hazing but I witnessed it often in the classroom when students could not function during rush week.  One of my African students was wearing a wool cap on his head during 90-degree heat.  After class I asked him why he had a wool hat pulled down over his head.  He lifted the hat and he had burned spots all over his head. What are these?  He said it was part of a ritual he had to go through to enter a Greek society.  I was going to go to the dean of students for him but he stopped me.  He said that if they found that he had told me what they did to him, they would harm him even more.

In one of my classes, I had two Greek students who sat together in the back of the classroom and rarely came to class.  They were always oblivious to what we were doing in class, and they missed more than 50% of the classes. Somehow they ended up achieving B’s on tests.  I had a strict rule about absences and so they failed the class.  Neither one of them ever came back to argue with me about their grade.  They were afraid that I had discovered their secret.

When we placed tests online, I kept the same policy.  But, students began copying and sending questions to others. Some honest students in one class complained about these cheating students because they saw them copying the test and emailing it to someone.  When I took the cheating students to the dean of students, with evidence, they were not punished.  In fact, no students were ever punished for cheating on any level by a bureaucrat at any university or college where I taught.  Colleges and universities consider the loss of tuition a negative and seek to keep students on campus, even if they have to override faculty and change their grades.

I took a Spanish class one year at a college.  During the first test only I and one other student stayed longer than fifteen minutes to take the test.  I could not believe it?  I asked the professor if she gave the same test every semester.  And she answered in the affirmative.  I also asked if all of the students received high grades. She told me that most of them received high grades but a few gave up and did not want to take the test.  She was unconcerned about cheating.  “It is their choice.  If they want to cheat and don’t want to learn, I can’t change them!” And this was a similar point of view voiced by one of my adjuncts. “So what if  they copy each other’s papers, at least they are learning something!”  I must have missed that lecture in graduate school when we were told to encourage cheating by our students!

Manipulating the Professor

If you don’t cheat, there are many strategies that students use in order to manipulate their professors into giving them better grades.  Some professors hang “crying towels” on their doors to attempt to stop students from pleading for grades.  It got so bad that I placed warnings in my syllabi.  If anyone tried to argue for a better grade I would consider it  cheating.  Asking for extra credit is also cheating because not everyone can participate in that extra credit.

I thought developing online courses would protect me from vicious, manipulative, and violent students.  But it did not stop them from emailing threats and calling me a “motherfu…”  Students continued to find ways to abuse me, even when we were hundreds or thousands of miles apart.  If students did not achieve the grade they wanted, they enlisted their parents to denigrate and insult me on the phone.  And, sometimes those irate parents, achieved success for their child.  Out of desperation and fear of violence, a dean would order me to give the student an opportunity to re-take a test.  Even with this opportunity, students usually failed.  Sometimes the dean would over-rule my grade for a student just to keep the peace. Is this “higher” education?

One student thought that I was going to shoot all of the students when I gave back tests.  (Obviously he had psychological problems.) He told the dean that I had a gun underneath the desk at the front of the room.  He was truly stressed to the max.  He wanted to re-take a test.  I agreed. He did not re-take the test because he told the dean that I would not give him a fair grade since he complained about me.  The dean gave him a passing grade that he did not deserve. I still can’t believe that the Dean did this.

Early in my career, when I was young and somewhat attractive, males and females would come to my office and ask me if there was anything they could do for me. At first, I wondered what was going on? Who volunteers to help a professor? But, soon I understood.  They were asking, “Is there ANYTHING (wink, wink) that I can do personally for you.”  This sex for grades strategy must have worked in other classes but it did not work in mine.

And this happened again and again with some international students from Saudi Arabia later in my career.  Not all international students were poor!  They would bring gifts to me, like plastic bracelets, and try to bribe me with money to change their grades.  I reported these activities to the International Office and they took no action against these students.  The students who brought gifts (I refused the money!) would come to me at the end of the semester with shock on their faces.  They could not believe they failed.  I had taken their gifts and they thought that would save them.  I soon learned not to take any gift!

Stalking the Professor

There are probably hundreds of reasons that someone decides to stalk another person.  But I really did not know the reasons as to why my students stalked me.  Two students, a male and a female stalked me. The male student had taken a couple of classes with me.  Occasionally he would stop by the office to hand in his work or ask about something we were studying.  I did not pay attention to it.  One day he told me that I was the most beautiful professor on campus and he wanted to date me.  I am sure he was thirty years younger than me.  I was kind but declined.

Next he started emailing me and telling me he could meet in town at a certain place.  I lived at least 60 miles away and he was willing to drive all of that way to see me. I went to the dean and asked him to help me.  He did not believe me and told me that I was just encouraging the student.  This issue was too messy for the dean and might harm his career.  This is typical behavior by a bureaucrat who will not protect faculty but always side with a student.  To this day, the male student has even tried to friend me on Facebook and Linked In.  He is still out there circling me.

The other  student who stalked me had accessibility issues.  She played the handicapped game with me.  She told me that she needed a sheet of paper to write down her thoughts during tests.  I told her that it had to be blank.  She took many classes from me and always used a blank sheet of paper.  In one of her last classes I thought I saw something written on the blank sheet of paper. She had written answers to questions and notes in invisible ink.  An eraser revealed the writing.  She was my best student and set the curves in all of the classes she took.  She cheated for herself and harmed others in the process. I was duped!

One of the most eerie things that ever happened to me while I was a professor involved the above student.  I was heading off to a national conference in another state.  Tom and I usually travel and sit in seats aisles apart. I arrived at my seat on the plane and whom do you think was sitting next to me?  It was the handicapped student.  How did she find out where I was sitting?

She thought I was traveling alone and was surprised to see my husband.  She wanted to stay with me during the entire conference.  Yes, she wanted to share my room. I helped her to the hotel and then went to the sessions where I was giving a paper. I will never know how and why she followed me to this conference.  I was afraid!

Traveling the World with Addicts

Visiting other countries is the best way to learn about life, culture, religions, politics and the world.  We always learn that what we read in books is out of date!  In real time we learn about real people!

I created several travel classes for students that took them to Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Ireland, and even to Alaska. On every study tour there was at least one student who was a drug addict.  In Australia one of the students ran away from the tour.  The bus driver said he thought he knew where he went and found him.  He was climbing fences high above cliffs and putting his life in harm’s way.  We were all worried.  When he returned from the trip, he was arrested and eventually sent to prison for a methamphetamine lab that he housed in his student apartment.  He had stolen all the equipment from the chemistry lab at the university.

On this same trip, I worked with a faculty member from another college who brought a few of her students.  She slept during the entire tour.  On the bus, she slept through every stop and adventure. I always wondered if she was drugged too?  I don’t remember a single conversation with her!

On another trip a student stayed in his stateroom almost all of the time. He and his friend were addicts. He had told me that the police had interviewed him because both of his parents were killed.  After their deaths he inherited a lot of money.  When we returned from the trip he tried to persuade me to give him a better grade than he deserved.

In Thailand, another student would not listen to my warnings about drinking alcohol with ice.  It made him very sick.  And we believed that he was visiting brothels.  If someone is 21, there is nothing you as a professor can do to stop him from making poor decisions. Still, another student in China began dancing with people who lived on the streets.  I saw a very “dirty” street man putting his hands through her beautiful long hair!  She did not understand how at risk she was for diseases! 

My Religion is the ONLY TRUE Religion!

Students were not the only people on campus who feared other religions.  Every time I sponsored an event there was push back from some faculty and staff.  They believed that the space on campus should be reserved for their brand of Christianity.

One of the first eye-openers for me came when we were studying Greek Orthodoxy in class. I shared a video of an Orthodox service.  We discussed the film afterwards and students were disturbed by the clothing and ornate church.  They called the priest “satanic” and could not believe that this was an example of Christianity.

Superstition exploded often in class with people fearing to touch a statue or artifact of another religion. Generally, I brought statues or icons of faiths to class and passed them around the room.  The classroom was large and students could not clearly see the statues.  Later, I created photographs of the icons and projected them on a screen for them.  But many students would withdraw from any object being passed around in class.  It was as if the would be harmed by the object.

Students also stood up and witnessed their faith.  It was difficult to control these people.  They wanted a soapbox and they thought my classes were their best shot.  Sometimes I had to ta.  Many students were offended that I did not teach that their brand of Christianity was the only acceptable and true religion.  They could not step outside themselves to understand that humans create religions. Religions do not descend from another planet.  Of course this superiority complex about their own faith hindered their achievements in class.  If they feared studying other religions, then how were they going to do the assignments and pass the tests?

I should note here that there were many students who reveled in studying other religions because it opened a door to the world.  I remember one of my minors in Religious Studies told me that until he entered college, the only time he had ever left his town was to view an Elvis tribute artist in another part of the county. (Not that there is anything wrong with enjoying Elvis tunes!)

Believe it or not, many students came to me with horror stories about how other faculty members or bureaucrats started classes and meetings with prayer, a Christian prayer, or read from the Bible and this was at a state institution.  Administrators followed the same practice.  After many complaints the vice president of student affairs stopped opening his meetings with prayer.  For one thing praying constitutes the establishment of religion and that is prohibited by the Constitution.  And, praying in a religious language that does not recognize all religions is a powerful way to control people.  If you have a hotline to heaven or a god, then who is going to argue  with you? Evoking the name of the divine gave them extra powers over people.

Kind and Gentle Students

Religious Studies was under fire from the bureaucrats for almost all of the years I worked.  Sometimes students and faculty would come to my rescue and gallantly defend me.  And, sometimes, after all the altercations, you forget that students can make you feel as if you are the most important person in the world.  Here is one such letter,

“I am very happy I had the chance to enroll in your    introductory Greek course.  I wish I could have devoted  more time to it. In one of the classes I teach, I stress the  Greek origins of many of the concepts. And then there is  the pleasure of understanding instantly the meaning of a word I have never seen before.  So it was with “thanatophobe” a combination of “thanatos” and “phobos,”  “death” and “fear.” The language has enriched my life.    Thank you!”


It is a shock when a professor discovers that students cannot read or write.  How did they make it through high school?  As I reflect back on the turmoil within my students, I think that the recession beginning in 2007 or even earlier should take part of the blame.  Where else and what else is a teen supposed to do, if they can’t find a job?  They can join the military or go to college.  Most of my students and their families could not afford to even think about volunteering! They were stuck and they did not like it!

Next time we will explore the selfish and intimidating bureaucrats!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Mid-Twentieth Century Blues. Chapter Four. Part Two!

A Bag of Nails and a Hammer

I will never forget what this professor did to me!


Retirement gives you time to think.  As I look back upon the bureaucrats and professors who were essentially my enemies, I wonder if they were threatened by Religious Studies?  So many on campus had only experienced one religion, their religion.  And if you are taught that your religion is the only valid one on earth and the rest are of the devil, then I can understand some of their antics.  They were protecting themselves from evil.

I wonder also if the success of Religious Studies was a threat.  We had hundreds and hundreds of students and they kept on enrolling in more classes.  At one small college, a professor told me that I was taking away students from other classes.  Maybe people felt like their jobs were being undermined.

I was a pile of energy in those days and marketed classes constantly. One wise president who hired me told me to make the campus my classroom.  Every year I brought in speakers, created panels, offered music from other faiths, and so much more.  It was an unwanted invasion to those who had never traveled to other countries or met people with their own precious faiths.  And their responses were often “crazy!”

Playing Checkers with Offices

Sayre (Woman Professor)

“The men in her department envied her.  She was too handsome, had published too many books ….  Sayre!   She’d claim she was a lonely woman with a bad spine.  Who’d envy her?  So intense [was she] that her fist would smash glass on a Sunday evening.” Lynn Strongin

The feeling of desperation dogged me every day I worked because I wanted to find an office away from the very mean and bullying men and women with whom I was housed. For over 20 years faculty in the department that housed my office, never forgot that their candidate was not hired.  The chair of this department had stonewalled interviewing candidates in order to give his candidate a better opportunity of landing my job.  This chair had to be replaced and another professor was brought in to manage the search committee. This committee offered me the job.  I never knew of this political problem until months after I had moved to begin the job.

In almost everything I did on campus, this chair and his department tried to block me.  They complained about me incessantly.  They sidelined grants for which I applied. They offered classes similar to the ones housed in Religious Studies.  They blocked funds for projectors, office furniture, and classes in technology. They blocked my request for market pay. In their classes they defamed me to Religious Studies students.  They blocked curricula I brought to the curriculum committee.  Fortunately, after many years, some of the old guys died or retired and I won some peace for a while.

Religious Studies was growing by huge numbers and this necessitated more room. I managed to hire adjunct faculty who taught in the evenings to help me. There was no where for them to work. Finally, I convinced the dean to allow me to move to a big room that was no longer in use two floors above my current hole in the wall.  Of course, no one was going to help me clean and organize the old room. I brought cleaning equipment, moved in a table (by myself) and set up the room.  In the process some of the old bookcases fell on me. Bruises covered my back and arms!

During the next week, I packed up everything in the office ready for the move.  The dean would not allocate any funds to move me, but I knew my students would help me. I brought a few students to my office after class only to find that a letter had been shoved under my door. Apparently, the dean had changed his mind.

A larger department wanted the room.  I was mortified.  I asked the students to leave and sat at my desk and cried for hours.  People knocked at my door to determine if I was okay but I could not answer it.  It was very late that night before I could find the energy to move!

The next day, the dean ordered me to ask departments if there were any other buildings on campus that would house Religious Studies.  He could have made one phone call and found something for me in a couple of minutes, but he would not do it.  The chemistry department told me that they had an open lab and there was plenty of room for me.  They welcomed me.  But the dean would not allow me to move.  Tormenting me was his hobby!

I appealed the dean’s letter informing me that I could not move to the upstairs office to the space allocation committee. They awarded to me an empty office, but they never sent a letter to inform me of their decision. There was a professor across the hall who would be moving into that space two floors above that I had cleaned and organized.  Months later I accidently discovered from a professor, not from my dean or any other bureaucrat, that I had been given her office.  That office was hard-won!

It was great to have an office away from the predators but it was also a “sentence” to work in hell.  During the spring and summer, the temperature was in the 90’s and in the fall and winter it dropped to 50 degrees or less.  I bought heaters to warm it up but there was nothing I could do about the heat, just wilt.

A New Big Office

After finally securing private office space, the dean would not allocate funds to purchase a desk and chair.  Of course, my wonderful students came down and carried all the boxes to my new office.  They carried my small refrigerator and microwave too.  The only furniture that went with me was a 1950’s style file where I kept student grades.  I was not prepared to purchase everything new for my office so I brought things from home, bookcases, long folding tables, and chairs.  I moved most of things in my van one-by-one.

One day when I was moving a huge six-foot long metal folding table from my car into the office, the automatic doors closed on me and the fifty-pound table fell on me.  I struggled to get it upright again on my dolly and make it down the hall.  In that hallway stood several male professors who saw me moving furniture by myself.  Not a single professor offered to help me.  They just snickered.  Sometimes I thought I was working in a horror movie where nightmares kept coming at you. Screaming would have helped.  I was treated like a sub-class human being, like a voiceless nothing.

The ironic part about the dean not providing support in any manner is that we offered evening classes through another office at that time. There was a revenue share about which I knew nothing.  Our college received funds based on enrollment in evening classes, and Religious Studies classes were full.  The dean never shared any of that money with us.  (And that lack of support was a way of harassing me.)

Over the years I purchased almost everything in my office. (And faculty kept asking about how I managed to obtain such nice things in my office.  It was a no-win situation.)  I finally bought a desk which I assembled myself that was broken by workers when asbestos renovations were done in the building in which I worked.  I fixed it, but it was never the same.  I will tell this story later.

Evicting Professors. The Mailbox Crisis.  Were they crazy?

One day I arrived at my new office to find that the office professional had decided that I could not pick up my mail. “Where is my mailbox?”  I asked her. “It is in the basement housed in the radio station.” “Why,”I asked her.  The office professional had a couple of stories about why the mailbox was moved. One of them was that there was a faculty vote to take away my box.  “You don’t belong here.  You don’t even teach in this building.  Why don’t you move to the building where you teach!” Of course, it was not her idea to move my mailbox?  The abusive deed originated from the desk of the bullying chair.  They wanted to evict me, so, however stupid it might sound; they played havoc with my mailbox.

When I left the confines of the hole-in-the-wall office, I did not take my mailbox with me because there was nowhere that the mail could be delivered near my office, so I kept it in the hallway in this department where it had been for five years. I was furious and wrote the following letter to the Dean.

“Over the years, whenever I tried to inform you of the abusive language, attitude, and activities of several members of this department, you extolled their virtues.  Taking away my mailbox is not virtuous.  The office professional has consistently abused my students, visitors,   and me for five long years….

This moving of the mailbox is problematic.  I do not work in  the other department and my mail would still come to the box I have had for all of these years. Students need a place to send items they want me to read.  Some of my audio visual equipment and videos were scheduled to be delivered to this mailbox.  Where will they go now?  Sometimes I come into pick up mail on the weekend and I cannot access the other department’s mail area.  I am not an animal.  I deserve to be treated with some consideration.”

In the end, my box was moved to a room within proximity of the dean’s office.  After nefarious hateful items kept showing up in my mailbox, the dean placed my mailbox in his office proper.  That solved the problem.  How crazy and silly all of this was!  And the campus had to learn my new number that was not publicized for a year, but some never changed the number of my box so mail circulated and circulated until it found me or it did not.

Destroying Personal Property.  The Broken Desk

This is what my desk looked like after it had been destroyed.

Earlier I spoke about a broken desk. The building in which Religious Studies was housed was to be renovated during the summer.  Not one person told me about the renovation. This was another useful tormenting strategy.  I found out about it about two days before the renovations were to begin when I saw people carrying items out of their offices.

The dean had simply forgotten?  Huh?  This was passive-aggressive at the very least.  Or he was drinking too much vodka!  I was teaching that summer and needed an office.  This time a crew moved my things into an office in another building, for free!  My own office was empty.  During the renovation, tradespeople used my office as a dump.  In it they stored all of their equipment, tools, and garbage. I wonder who gave them permission to use it?

After teaching for the summer and then going home for a month, I came back to a filthy office–from top to bottom.  The carpet was soiled and the paint was ruined.  I tried to find my desk and other materials and they were nowhere to be found.  One of the cleaning people found remnants of my things thrown into a closet in another building.  No one knew who threw my things into a closet.  The desk was broken and many items were missing.

I managed to get the broken desk back to my office, found a chair, and put my bookcases back together so I could teach in the fall.  I bought paint and painted my office, of course there was no money in the budget for that sort of thing.  After a week or so, I noticed that every other office (except mine) in my building had new carpet and paint.

I went to the dean and told him to come down and look at the black, torn, and worn carpet in my office.  Again, there was no money to purchase carpet or renovate. There was no upgrade for me. Miraculously, about a week later someone told me that there was money left in a grant that was used to renovate the building.  I asked the dean if this was true.  He said, “Go over and pick out your carpet.”  He never offered an apology.

I never knew if this type of abuse was intentional or if the players were incompetent. Scams like this happened to me over and over and over.  I really think it was intentional.  It was harassment at its worst!  And the men enjoyed it!  They always made me beg for everything like a little dog.

Controlling Your Personal Life.  No Pregnancies Allowed!

While you would never see the above words in a faculty guide, male professors early in my career did not like the idea of having to cover (substitute teach) for a pregnant female professor. A pregnancy could put your tenure in danger and you might never achieve a promotion (which meant a raise in pay). And I did have colleagues who knew that choosing to have children might mean the end of their careers. Bureaucrats would not speak these words but the expectations were there.

During the first fifteen years of my career at several institutions, only one female faculty member became pregnant.  She was given a leave of absence and she never returned to teaching. Giving your life to a child, to your students, and to publishing is an almost insurmountable task for women.

When I arrived at one job, the dean arranged for a party to introduce me to his friends. Some of the wives of the professors sat by me during a meal and began to drill me.  Where is your husband?  Where are your children right now?  Where are you living?  You mean you are living alone?

In my previous decades of employment not one person had ever asked me if I had children.  It never seemed important.  But, now, these women were putting their hands over their mouths because they were alarmed that I did not have children.  I told them that I really was not interested in having and raising children. It was not my thing!  They went wild and never spoke to me again.  Of course, if you follow the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, being “fruitful” is a command.  “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” (Genesis 1:28).  I guess I was not following the divine dictate!

Minimizing Computer Support.  Technology and Technocrats

I was familiar with computers and had learned how to use an IBM computer in 1982.  My first computer was an Epson.  I kept learning about software and finally migrated to a MAC in the mid-1980’s.  At some of the institutions where I taught, I offered classes to faculty to introduce them to computing.  At one institution, I bought a subscription to an online index database and ran searches for my students.  In those days we connected by phone. (I will discuss this later.) Other institutions also lagged behind in computing and support. I think they thought that computers were not important!

When I negotiated a new contract at an institution a personal computer was part of the deal. In those days very few professors had computers or knew how to use them.  They agreed to provide a computer but when I arrived, they would not purchase a printer for me.  What good is a computer without a printer? There was no Internet at this time. After creating syllabi and handouts for class, I could not print them.  So, I had to purchase a printer with my own money.  This happened often.  During my first ten years on one job, I donated more than $2000 a year for supplies, teaching materials, and office equipment to keep Religious Studies functioning, not to mention paying for campus speakers.

This school was so far behind all of the other institutions where I had taught that we had to use a mimeograph machine to create tests.  That meant that a stencil had to be cut (no typing mistakes).  Then the stencil was run across paper that made blue type.  It was very messy and you could not save the tests because the ink faded.

The only computer staff at this time was two guys who physically worked on computers.  Over the years, faculty progressed and began using IBM’s or PC’s.  There was always a battle for resources for computers.  One president decided that Apple’s/MACS were to be thrown off campus.  Of course, this unilateral and erroneous decision could not and would not happen. Many creative software packages were developed only for MACs.  Essentially the president was taking away the tools that faculty needed to do their jobs. And this decision, while in the beginning harmed many faculty, was eventually reversed.

Eventually software was developed to enhance instruction on the Internet.  There were many types of software that could be used online but the school where I taught chose Blackboard. It was not popular in the beginning because it was complicated to use.

Eventually there was a push to place classes online because those courses could reach students who otherwise could not enroll.  (I believe the push came because bureaucrats wanted to attract more students to pay tuition. The fact that it would enable stay-at-home moms, handicapped people, the military, students without cars, etc. never entered into their minds.  It was all about cash.)

Certain faculty were chosen to learn how to use the software.  I was not one of them even though I had substantial experience in computing.  I had to beg the technology office to tutor me, and, thankfully they did tutor me a couple of years later.

One of the greatest problems I had while developing and teaching courses on Blackboard was the incompetence of the support staff.  Over and over students could not view videos, or could not upload their research, or tests would fail. They did not know how to fix the software when it failed.  They did not have enough experience to keep the software fully functional.

Some of the tech people suggested that I buy a drop-in cartridge to use in my classes. Many professors do not know how to develop online classes and so they buy ready-made courses that they just upload to Blackboard (drop-in cartridges) and then they babysit the students.  This is a travesty.  Faculty should not be allowed to teach online if they don’t know how to develop a class.

Students lose when teachers are lazy and administrators figure out how to take advantage of them!

When faculty use drop-in cartridges, they do not know how to solve problems when they surface. Why would anyone want to teach a class where all of the notes, tests, outlines, videos, and other teaching tools are already provided for the professor?  It seems antithetical to excellence in teaching.  Where is the creativity?  To me this is also an ethical question!

Colleges choose to buy these drop-in cartridges (classes) because they do not want to hire full-time faculty.  They want to hire someone who is less qualified (less pay) so that they make more money from the tuition for the class.  And many of these people who offer these classes are not paid very well and know very little about the subject matter.  Colleges cheat students when they use these drop-in cartridges.

All of my classes were developed online from scratch by me.  I had to obtain permission for films and readings that were uploaded to Blackboard.  I bought a subscription to a clipart database and also used thousands of my own photos. At least fifteen presentations were developed for one course alone.  Many included voice.  This was the norm for my classes.  But there were always problems.

One semester my presentations for a class would function within Blackboard and the next semester they would not work.  I had not had any programming at this time so I did not know how to solve the problem myself.  The techs could not solve the problem or would not solve the problem.  So that meant I had to create totally new presentations for the classes I taught.  These presentations represented years of work.  Eventually, as the Internet matured and sites developed, I used other materials.  Students could go directly to these sites online but, even then, this broke down also!

This insanity went on for a decade.  I would receive scores of phone calls late at night or early in the morning from students complaining that Blackboard was not working.  This wreaked havoc in their life and in mine. Finally, I requested permission to work on a Certificate in Web Programming and Design.  When I finished this program, I knew that the support people in the tech department had never had these classes because they would have been able to solve the problems.

Since I did not have access to the Blackboard platform, even with my knowledge, I could not solve the problems.  In the end, when I retired, one of the main reasons I left was because of how difficult the lack of tech support made my teaching, my life every day. It was chaos.  Below is a section of a letter I wrote to the tech people just before I left.

For most of my career, I had obtained copyright permission to use videos or other written materials in my classes that were uploaded to Blackboard.  I knew the rules well.  During my last semester, I had requested permission to use videos that had no real copyright holders.  The university attorney ruled that they were in “fair use” after consulting with specialists in the field.  The tech people did not like his ruling.  They pulled rank on the attorney and went over his head to argue their case. He changed his mind!  In the end, he left the university.  When the technology area began making legal rulings is when the university did not need an attorney. Besides being unfair to me, the bigger travesty was that the bureaucrats allowed the tech department to define course content!

The real problem here was the culture of the tech department.  They thought that because they had computer knowledge that they had the power to control everyone who used Blackboard. They ruled us!  Our issues did not matter to them.  While they may have understood (better? than faculty and bureaucrats) how the software was created, they did not teach using the software and were always unaware of all of the problems they caused by their decisions. They did not want to support faculty and students. They were bullies!

Misusing funds Generated by Small Departments

The greedy always find others to prey upon, like parasites!

I had worked for about 20 years at a college before I learned about the thousands of dollars that we were generating for the entire college.  (As noted earlier.) This continued until I retired, although one dean shared a percentage of those funds during my last few years.  Religious Studies was a department of one full-time person that was generating thousands of dollars for a college of over one hundred professors with huge departments.  (As already briefly mentioned. I had hired at least six adjunct professors to teach specialty subjects in Religious Studies and enrollment in our classes kept growing.)

I became a slave to the rest of the faculty in my college who fed on the funds Religious Studies generated.  The dean shared the funds we generated through online courses with other departments and faculty.  He created grants and awards to be given away.  Of course, Religious Studies was never offered those grants or funds.  At one point, this one full-time person (me) department netted $450,000 for the general fund.  No one ever complimented me or offered any additional personal compensation for the work.

Those shared-funds supported online faculty and face-to-face faculty in Religious Studies, allowing them to purchase items  for classroom use and attend national conferences.  And this money also supported my attendance at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and the American Academy of Religion (AAR). These national organizations were sources of academic, personal, and social support for me.  Year after year they accepted my papers and presentations. I served as president of a regional SBL and developed sessions for many years for AAR as a chair of different groups. Publishers also treated me with respect and were eager to publish my work.  For years they were my family.  I would meet old friends from graduate school and made friends with editors and publishers.  I was so fortunate that academics across the country appreciated my work.

Alienating and Marginalizing of Faculty.  The Ultimate Wound

Probably one of the most stinging things that happened to me in my entire career was the day a cowardly dean (and I worked with scores of deans) met me in the hallway as I was on my way to the chair’s meeting.  Of course, all of the chairs were male, except me. Once in a while a female would be elevated to the chair’s position in a department but she did not stay long. They refused to give me the title of “chair” and so my title was “director.”  I was always shocked when I attended chair meetings. All of the men looked alike.  They wore blue sports coats with open collars and had light hair with receding foreheads and light skin.  For several years I could not really remember their names because they all looked the same.  There was not a tall one in the bunch.  Most of them were shorter with an occasional chair that almost reached six feet tall.  They all looked like brothers, and they almost always hired themselves or look-alikes!

I met with the chairs but I was not one of them.  We sat at huge conference tables that were pushed together. I was assigned a space at a corner on a table, which meant that I had no room to place a notebook or put my feet under the table.  It was a very uncomfortable symbol of their feelings about my presence.

This weekly meeting was the doorway to information on campus.  If there were funds for computers, or special activities on campus, this is where we were informed.  Each chair would explain what was happening in his area. It was a learning experience. Since I was the only full-time professor in Religious Studies, it also provided social time with fellow colleagues.

How could this man do this to me?

As I was saying earlier, I was on my way to this meeting that I had attended for probably fifteen years, and even during summers when I was not teaching on campus. (I lived 60-70 miles away and it was a long trip just for a single meeting.)  The dean met me in the hallway and stopped me.  He said, “Your presence is no longer required at the chair’s meeting.”  I said, “What? What is the issue?”   He would not answer me.  He turned back toward his office and walked away. (I think he went into the men’s restroom to hide.)

I had no idea regarding the politics of the situation.  Soon, I learned through a third party (Thank goodness for friends.), that Religious Studies had been placed under a department with a brand new chair who was junior to me.  No one had even bothered to talk to me about the move.

I was not the only female to be stung by the power-hungry who wanted to put women in their place.  Every time we were blessed with a new president, he would begin to re-organize. If there were women in charge of areas or programs like academic advising or international affairs, he would place a young male over them or, sometimes, a young inexperienced female would become their boss.  Humiliation was a great tool to force women to leave their jobs.

In that same year when I was told not to attend chair meetings, I was approved for a sabbatical. No discussion on the political decision of placing Religious Studies in another department was allowed.  The dean ordered me to his office to sign my sabbatical papers for my leave.  And here is cruelty in action.  The dean had the contract typed with the name of the department chair who was approving my sabbatical.  (My sabbatical was one semester off with pay.)  I told him that this was unacceptable.  I was not a member of the department.  He said that if I did not sign my name and accept this junior professor as my chair, that my sabbatical would be cancelled.  He told me I had to sign the paper at that moment.  He would not give me any time to think about it. I signed the paper, and I have regretted it ever since I did.

Over the years there were many political attacks from rotating provosts to bring down Religious Studies.  One day the dean came to me with the news that the Center for Religious Studies was going away, again!  Why would they pick on one Center and not the others?  None of the other Centers were targeted.  So quickly, my student assistant and I began to research Centers and Institutes on campus.  We found twenty-two centers and most of them were “stand-alone,” which meant that they were not housed in a bigger department.  So, I sent off the research and a letter with lots of questions.  Why does the provost’s college house the most Centers on campus?  How long have these Centers been in existence?  Who funds them?  Shouldn’t all of these Centers be cut, if Religious Studies is cut?  That research stopped one provost from harassing Religious Studies for a little while.

 Bullying is an Accepted NormA Bag of Nails and a Hammer

I will never forget what this professor did to me!

At one point in my career I was member of the university curriculum committee.  The job of a person on a curriculum committee is to determine if the classes that are proposed are academically well-constructed and funded. A new international curriculum was proposed and I asked many questions about the content. After all, at this stage in my career I had visited scores of countries and I wanted to know what was “international” about the classes. They interpreted my questions as intimidation because they could not answer them.  (They were not really international in scope.  It was a snow job.) On the second day of considering a proposal one of the men was very upset.  At the end of the session, he brought over a brown paper bag with a hammer and nails in it.  He said that he was going to use them on me.  What?

I reported this threat to the dean, who promptly discounted it. In a very demeaning way, he told me that I might be on the curriculum committee but I was not one of them (of course).  One of the professors (with the hammer and nails) had complained to him about me. So, the dean told me to apologize to him.  What? That professor brutalized me and I told the dean that I would not apologize and reward him for his bullying.  I really feared him.  The dean remarked that I had a deficient personality.  How cruel he was!  Deans often attacked you personally if you did not follow their outrageous orders.

Deans had to toe the line because if they did not agree with the higher-up bureaucrats, they could be attacked and their careers could be on the line.  So, it was safer and easier for a dean to abuse the one who was abused–than to take on his friends, the bureaucrats.  I never realized how broken and cowardly bureaucrats could be until I was in my 50’s.  How naive I was!

If you would like to read the entire book, Final Exam Jihad.  An Opportunity for Loneliness, click on this link.  Link








As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.  The book itself is copyrighted!




Posted in Cause of Violence, Computer Support, Disillusionment in Higher Education, Higher Education, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Jihad, Misogynism, Misogynism in Higher Education, Religious hatred, Strategies to derail females, Stress and Professors, Violence Against Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mid-Twentieth Century Blues. Chapter Four, Part One.

Inescapable Institutional Violence  

“For the beauty of strong courageous women is ugly by misogynist standards of “beauty.”      Mary Daly


Sometimes you get caught up in a cause or a battle and you cannot step away from it.  This must have happened to me.  As I read my words, I am so happy that my life is different now.  I also grieve about what is happening in higher education.  Education can be a key to a great future, but I am not sure my students received any of those keys.

I don’t want to drone on, but people need to know the “awfulness” of higher education today!  I am sure that most people have encountered abuse or violence in their careers.  But, integrated into the organizational fiber of colleges and universities is a self-aggrandizing cancer that harms and even kills its members.

The environment that should provide a passage to creativity and growth can become a cesspool of political struggles.  The environment that should provide a peaceful respite from the stresses of life turns out to be filled with booby-traps and snares. The powerful and those who lust after power use many and varied, active and passive strategies to enhance their own egos and status.  In my forty or more years of experience in higher education, violence and verbal abuse were my constant companions.  Most of the bullying was used to control, constrain, punish, or to manipulate.  And it was often effective!

Preying Upon Students

Over the years many students came to me with stories of assaults by professors.  The only problem was that they never had any proof. One story comes to mind.  She was an international student who had been attacked by a professor in her department.  She did not understand rape.  She was so naive.  I asked her about going to the hospital and she did not know that she should have gone. There was nothing I could do for her because there was no proof that the incident happened.

There was a lot of gossip about male professors attacking students.  None of the professors lost their jobs. Sometimes they were given a semester off (with pay), or reassigned to another department, but they were seldom punished for their crimes.

One office professional was sexually attacked repeatedly by a professor who constantly, in a public way, demeaned her and her work. (I do not know why she did not report him.  Later, someone else did.) Eventually she quit her job, but before she left she told me that she sprayed his office with urine.  What a revenge for a rape!

 Feeding on International Students and Others

International students are a coveted group on campus because their out of country tuition is so high. Out-of-state tuition (alone) can be two to three times higher.  Bureaucrats used them to add money to the general fund. But the bureaucrats abandoned most of them once they arrived in town.

When International students arrived on campus, no one helped them to adjust to the town or the university.  Apparently, the International Office did not have a requirement regarding funds that students should have when they arrived.  So many students without support from home lived in total poverty while attending classes. They had little money for warm clothing, food, books and supplies, and transportation.

I can’t remember how many times I brought food and household items for my international students. They were so kind that they even invited me to dine with them on the top floor of an old building. It was not clear as to how many international students lived on this one floor where my students lived.  They had put up sheets to create independent living arrangements.  (Where was the restroom and shower?) I don’t know how they survived!

When I arrived for dinner the food had been placed on a mat on the floor.  I was supposed to eat the food with my hands.  I asked for a fork.  The student went from cubicle to cubicle on this floor looking for a fork and finally found one.  We sat on the floor and ate rice.  It was the kindest thing that anyone had ever done for me.

Sometimes I paid the tuition for my students.  Tom and I had recently toured Turkey and spent an afternoon with one of my student’s parents and her sister near Izmir, Turkey.  It was a rare experience for us.   They were Muslims and prepared enough food for an army just for us.  A couple of days after we returned, an earthquake devastated Turkey.  My student’s parents lost their home and their business was ruined.

My student told me that she had no money and her parents could not send her any money because assets had been frozen and they were living out on the street.  Their apartment had huge cracks in the walls and the aftershocks kept coming.  I asked the student if I could buy one of her mother’s paintings.  (Fortunately, they were able to send it later from Turkey.) The price I paid for the painting was exactly the amount of money my student needed to pay off her tuition and survive until she graduated.  The painting arrived and is still hanging in our hearth room today.  It was the most expensive painting that I ever purchased and the best return on an investment.

International Bureaucrats Were Clueless about Travel Issues

 One of the greatest issues I had with international students had to do with vaccinations. They came from a variety of countries and many of them were not immunized.  Their very presence presented a threat to other students and the U.S.A. students presented a threat to them.  I complained to the International Office about this issue. And reminded them that faculty who take students abroad must require students to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to protect them. But they ignored my advice!

One professor took students to Africa and every one of the students and the instructor herself came back with Malaria and who knows what other diseases.  This was an outrageous thing to do to students who should have been taught how to protect themselves.  Neither the faculty member nor the bureaucrats were concerned with the diseases the students had acquired.  And why were they unconcerned?  In my experience, most bureaucrats and faculty have never traveled internationally. And those who had traveled did not choose an underdeveloped country to visit.  So, they knew nothing about the CDC and the threats that the diseases posed.

Minority Students

Bureaucrats also used the same strategies on minority students.  I met a professor who told me that her state school “used” minority students to fund their other programs. Bureaucrats would admit academically poor students who they knew could not compete.  They brought hundreds and hundreds of minorities into her technology classes.  Most were there for less than a semester because they could not do the work. Bureaucrats could claim their tuition funded by the Federal government as their own. She quit her job because she felt it was unethical to do this to people.  This is exactly what for-profit colleges had been doing and many of them have been shut down.  Public-funded colleges and universities that use these strategies should be closed also.

Male Hegemony.  Dominating the Females 

Rape manifests itself in many forms.  It can be physical to be sure, but males can violate you in many, many ways.  So many men crave power over females because they believe that they have a divine right. Their faith tells them that God gave males the ultimate dominance over females. And females have no right to teach Religious Studies or Theology. (As I was told.) Those fields are for “males only!”  In my long career, most males rarely appreciated my creativity or abilities in the classroom, on campus, or in print.  They were jealous, rendered impotent by my very presence, and devised ways of attempting to harm my reputation or block my plans for developing a department or a career.

Promotion and Tenure

I will never forget the time I went to the dean to ask for help in preparing my dossier for promotion.   (Tenure means, barring some catastrophic happening, you had a job for life.) My dean pointed me toward a man in the college who had a three-page dossier.  He was a full-professor.  I don’t know if the dossier was real or not.  I was distressed because his dossier was a joke. He could not help me at all because he had accomplished little to gain promotion.  He was one of the good old boys.  I had published articles and books and given more papers in my first three years of teaching than he had in his thirty years.

I finally found a female professor in another college who gave me insights on how to write a successful dossier.  Her dean invited me to a workshop on tenure and promotion that my college did not offer.  All of this advice worked!  But it took me six long months to assemble that dossier with examples of my work, letters of recommendation, and more. (This very kind Dean was demoted.  He ended up dying of cancer.)

I knew that the dossier had to be the “best in the college” in order to win a promotion because I had so many detractors.  (Every single item was clearly documented so there could be no questions about whether I did or did not do something. There were no skeletons in the closet.) When you are fighting for your existence you have to excel.

Every person who has experienced discrimination understands what I am saying here. 

You are not among the “in” group, nor are you “privileged.” You were not given a job, you earned the job.  This is not arrogance. It is a fact.  I did not have access to the old-boys club to help me! It is difficult for the old boys to harm you when a committee ranks your dossier as number one in the college.

Breaking Privacy Laws.  Common Practice

When I moved to a new job at a university, I spent some time with a real estate agent.   Before I actually bought a home, the man showed me a copy of my Vita (extended resume) and one of the books I had written.  It was really weird to discover that someone at the university was sharing my information with his/her friends.  He thought that I was a Christian fundamentalist because Jerry Falwell had written a forward to one of my books on that very topic, fundamentalism.  He was so wrong!

 Using Threats and Bullying.  Misogyny and Me

 I should have consulted a crystal ball on my first day on campus at one university.  A faculty member asked me if I was a Christian.  I said that my faith has nothing to do with academics and would not answer him.  He said, “I am going to the president.  If you are not a Christian, you should not be teaching on this campus.”

Within a few minutes another faculty member came up to meet me.  “Are you the new Religious Studies professor?”  I answered in the affirmative.  “Well, I don’t think that Religious Studies should be taught on campus.  It is against the law.  I am going to complain to the president.”   That day predicted the coming onslaught of abuse that I would experience for decades.  I should have got in my car and left!

The academic study of religion is not outlawed by the constitution as long as the religions are taught from an inclusive and objective point of view. It is an exploration of the history, geography, culture, beliefs, rituals, music, politics, laws, and more of religions around the globe.  Separation of church and state is the rule but is only violated when a specific religion, the religion of the professor, is the only religion that is taught in class. I never subscribed to a single religion in class or on campus during my career in Religious Studies. (But I knew of professors who prayed in class and taught their beliefs to students, without hesitation!)

For years, faculty, bureaucrats, and students at this university accosted me. Hate-centered emails came flying at me and had to be stopped by the university attorney.  Students secretly taped by lectures and took them to the board of governors and the president. People put books, flyers, and more with outlandish titles and threats in my mailbox. It was a constant battle!  I think the main issues that bothered these people were that I was a female, and that I brought non-Christian groups to campus. They did not want to hear about other faiths around the globe, which is the central goal of Religious Studies.

Not-so-Kind Christian Ministers

At a meeting of all the male Christian ministers in the community where I taught, I discussed plans for growing a Religious Studies department and wondered if they would like to participate.  They asked me to answer many theological questions.  (Theological questions are questions about a personal faith and have nothing to do with the academic study of Religion at a state college.) Their response was that they would have to audit my classes before they would want to work with me.  None of those pastors ever gave me the time of day, nor did any of them visit any of my classes.  It was like I was taboo, untouchable!  For them, the only true faith was their faith and studying other religions was considered to be “of the devil.”  They did not understand the differences between practicing a single faith (theology) and Religious Studies.

The Whore of Babylon had come to Town!

During my first year at the above academic institution, one day on my way to work and listening to the radio, I heard the announcer say that the university had recently hired the Whore of Babylon. He went on to say that she was the Head of Religious Studies.  I could hardly believe my ears.  He was calling me the “Whore of Babylon.”  How do you stop that kind of violation?  To whom do you complain?  And, who would listen? Where does a radio announcer obtain information about faculty?  Were my colleagues already threatened by the teaching of Religions on campus?

Years later a Jewish president of the university was given the same kind of treatment.  He left and died shortly thereafter from cancer.  I always wondered if the stress he experienced from the harassment had hastened his death.  He was not the only one on campus who died shortly after being “mugged” by the bureaucrats.

Assaulting the Successful

 I had left teaching as a professor for a couple of years to work as a public relations officer for a school system but decided that I missed teaching and came back to the classroom.  My pay was only half of my previous job, but I felt lucky.  At this private college, classes were small and I poured my heart into them.

At the end of the semester, most of the students received good grades and my student evaluations were excellent.  The chair of this department ordered me to his office and lectured me concerning my evaluations.  He told me that I made the rest of the department look really bad.  They had average scores on evaluations and that if I wanted to stay employed, my evaluations had to come in line with the rest of the professors.  So, this belligerent over-bearing slimy large man wanted me to do what?  How do you persuade students to give you a bad evaluation? I think that was the very moment that I decided to leave that school.

Failing to Pay for Work

Uppermost in my goals for Religious Studies was to improve enrollment in my classes and arrange the times classes were offered so that students who wanted to take our classes could enroll. Large departments scheduled their required courses during popular times on campus.  I experimented with two concurrent four-week classes in the summer.  Each class met almost four hours a day.  That meant that I was teaching eight hours a day.  This schedule was so difficult for me that I had to go to my car and take a fifteen-minute nap every day.

The classes were very successful.  After two summers of teaching the classes, I was told that I would have to teach 60 students in each class.  What?  No one teaches 60 students in classes during the summer.  Apparently, there was a summer school committee, headed by two of the people who occupied the department that marginalized me. They created guidelines for the summer.

No one on campus, except me, had to attract 60 students in a class in order to get paid.  Many classes in the business school set the limit of 10 students.  I appealed this decision handed down to me to the dean. No response. I appealed to the provost and he stood by the faculty who came up with the guidelines.  They discriminated against me specifically.  I wondered if the university was discriminating against all women?  I studied all the classes offered by men and women.  Only one woman was teaching two classes in the summer.  All the men were teaching and getting paid for two classes. So, the discrimination against all females was intentional.

I appealed to the faculty senate and they told me that the provost could do anything he wanted.  I argued that this was discrimination but they did not want to address the issue. So the associate provost got involved. She told me that she did not care if they were discriminating against me. I was only going to teach one class and it had to have, now, at least 40 students.  I looked at her and said, “I am not teaching anything this summer.”  Her jaw dropped and I left the room.

I believe they thought that I was going to bring legal action against them for discrimination.  Two attorneys from a town nearby contacted me.  They had been informed about how I was treated on campus.  But I decided not to bring any action against the university. I knew they would punish me even more than they already had.  And who wants to spend many stressful years only to be awarded a few thousand dollars?

Not one word was ever said to me about the altercation about summer school. The next year I requested two classes to teach with maximum 25 students and no one challenged me.  They had dropped all the rigid guidelines that they had forced upon me for summer school. Word of their discrimination reached around the world, literally.

During this tense time I received a letter from W. Henry Walthall who was in charge of the Prabhupada Rasamrita Trust.  He began, “Most Respected Dr. Selvidge, and Dear Friend and Fellow Revolutionary Marla Ma.  You have had these problems before.  Remember it’s like Popeye downing a can of spinach.  Natawhop…ZhaZam!  These will give you strength and help you to defeat Provost Moron.”  He was so kind!  For a long time after that I went by the name he gave me, “Marla Ma.” As an aside,  they failed to pay me and my adjuncts time and time again.  We had to watch our bank accounts and remind them!

Scheduling Nightmare Classes and Rooms

At one of the institutions where I taught the chair arranged the times when classes would be offered.  He gave me a class at 7:30 a.m. and one at 6:00-9:00 P.M. a couple of days a week. I lived 90 miles away from the college so by the time I finished my 6:00 P.M. evening class and talked to all the students; it was usually 10:00 at night. If I had driven home, I would have arrived home after midnight and then would have to turn around at 5:30 a.m. to leave for the next class in the morning.  It was too dangerous to drive all of those miles when I was so tired and when there was snow on the mountain. So, I bought a sofa bed and stayed in my office overnight. I only stayed at this college for one year, if I had stayed longer; I think I would have died in a crash on the mountain.

I have no idea why the chair gave me such a horrible schedule.  There were two other Religious Studies professors who lived in town but they taught during the middle of the day.  I wonder if there was some negative political push back with hiring a woman to teach Religious Studies.  I will never know.

At another institution one of my classes was scheduled in a room that a faculty member wanted to use.  In those days I had to, in writing, request every piece of equipment, audio or video that I needed for every class day in an entire semester before classes began. This task took several hours to do. So, moving from one room to another was very problematic because the audio-visual department would physically move items that needed to be used.  The story is long with the faculty member physically pushing me out of a room and walking back and forth outside my classes.  This man harassed me until I retired.  He became a top bureaucrat at the university and used his power to harm me and Religious Studies whenever he could.

Killing Professors Who Don’t Fit

 I am not the only one on campus who was hounded by greedy bureaucrats and self-serving professors.  Recently I talked with a friend in the library who told me that she knew of at least one person in each academic department that was consistently abused.

Darlene (not her real name) was from India.  She had made her way to Australia where she worked to obtain her Ph.D. in Computer Information Systems.  When she died, she was supporting her husband who was ill, and her son in medical school.  She was a valiant and strong lady who did not deserve to die at 56.  Let me tell you her story!

Darlene was gorgeous.  She had dark perfect skin, the biggest eyes, curly hair, nice and thin, and wore Fifth Avenue suits to class.  She was dedicated, engaging, innovative, and competent in everything she did on campus.  From the time she landed a job at the university, she was harassed.  In the beginning it was only words from her chair or colleagues like, “How can a colored girl make as much money as I do.” Or, “how come a foreigner can come here and take away jobs from us?”   The boys did not like her because she was beautiful and competent.  They could not have her, nor did they like it that her light was brighter than theirs.  And she was the wrong color.  The female professors in her department saw her as competition and would not advise her or help her in any way.  She was on her own!

The bureaucrats got together and decided they did not want her on campus.  Her chair changed the numbers on her student evaluations so it would look like she was not doing a good job.  She was assigned overloads to keep her busy and given mindless tasks.  Her chair allowed students to bring up charges against her that went to human resources.  She was grading international students fairly but they wanted their grades changed.  The bureaucrats forced her to change the grades.  They did not want to lose the very high tuition the international students paid.  It was a daily battle for her.  How does one keep integrity in classes while trying to please the bureaucrats and lazy vindictive students?

Around her fourth year at the institution, it was time for her to apply for tenure.  Her college passed her but her application stopped at the provost’s office.  He accused her of misappropriation of a huge grant she had received.  The charges were bogus.  She had to argue her case for weeks.  Finally, she appealed to the sensible president and received tenure.  The provost lost but he his revenge would be satisfied eventually.

In about her seventh year at the institution, she came up for promotion to full professor.  This is when I came to know Darlene.  We worked together on a program where we brought speakers to campus.  We became friends.  In the process, she began pleading with me to help her with her dossier.  I made suggestions and edited her documents.  She had accomplished more than most of the professors in my college.

Darlene was working day and night trying to please the bureaucrats.  They denied her promotion.  She appealed the decision all the way to the president again.  This type of argumentation is very strenuous and stressful on a person.  They had promoted one of their male friends who had poor student evaluations and had not published.  (They all went duck-hunting together! Wink!  Wink!) It was a blow that knocked her down.  This is the very moment that she developed cancer.

For approximately two years she battled cancer.  She never gave up, even when she could barely stand or talk, she went to class.  She had to have a microphone installed at her desk so she could teach.  She was in hospice care and still teaching online.  She was remarkable in many ways.

I visited her at home and she showed me all the self-help books she was reading.  She had created very positive signs that she plastered on the mirror in her bathroom like:  “I am going to live! I am going to beat this!”  She adjusted her diet, exercised more, and worked very hard to stay alive.

Throughout this entire ordeal, not one other person from the university visited her (This is what she told me but one faculty member disputes this.).  At the beginning of a semester, as she walked to a class, one of her colleagues said to her, “Oh, I didn’t think you were coming back.”  When she called her colleagues and asked if any of them would help her in her classes when she had to go to the hospital, not one of them would substitute for her.  The week before she died her department sent flowers, finally.

Darlene could not leave.  She had too many responsibilities and she was not old enough to retire. There are many more twists and turns to this story, but you get the picture I am drawing.  In the end, the boys and girls won, they did not want to tenure or promote her — they killed her instead. It took some time, but they won.  The war is over for her.

About a week before she passed away they promoted her to Full Professor.  It was kind of sick gesture.  They knew she would never collect the money. She told me that her dream came true and now she could die.  Only a couple of people came to her wake and no one on campus officially mentioned her passing!  I miss her!

Assigning the Unwanted to Solitary Confinement.  The Dark Pit of Existence for Women and Minorities

Sometimes a female, gay, or minority member would be awarded tenure and promotion. But then they were relegated to an empty space where no one goes.  They are never placed on committees, or voted to become part of the Faculty Senate, or receive any awards or extra pay for anything.  They have no power and are treated like outcasts.  They are alone and alienated.

Bureaucrats relish the power they have over faculty.  I often wondered if they were sadistic because harm came to everyone they touched. I knew a Muslim professor who tried year after year to obtain a promotion, but the administration would not approve it. They wanted to keep him right where he was–poor!  I wrote letters for him and helped him with his dossier.  No amount of extra work would change their minds. Eventually the Muslim left his job. I am sure that this was their goal!

Then there was a female professor who was locked out of her office. (How can anyone do this?) Her dean would not allow her to teach and told her to leave campus. No charges were ever filed, and to my knowledge the woman was very creative and dedicated.  We had worked together on a couple of international projects.

Apparently, the dean did not like her.  Upper management would not challenge this dean. (Why? What did the dean have on the bureaucrats?) So, the dean kept paying this professor for not teaching.  This went on for years.  Finally, upper management found a desk for the professor and she was given statistical work in the administration building.  The bureaucrats urged her to take the dean to court, but she did not want to do this, she wanted her job back.  (The bureaucrats wanted her to do what they were afraid to do.) As I recall, she had taught for over thirty years at this institution.  In the end, the professor resigned  because she did not want a court battle.

While I was awarded promotion and tenure, I was never asked to serve on a search committee to find other faculty for departments in my college, or asked to serve on the tenure and promotion committee at any institution during my entire career.  I did hire my own adjuncts because no one else on campus understood the academic study of religions. I had been pushed into that black pit where so many other females, gays, and minorities languished.

(This chapter is very long so I  have cut it  in half and will publish the other section soon!)

If your interested in reading the entire book just click on

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Cause of Violence, Disillusionment in Higher Education, Education not War, Higher Education, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Killing a Professor, Misogynism, Misogynism in Higher Education, Religious Beliefs destroy females careers, Religious hatred, Strategies to derail females, Stress and Professors, Students at risk, Terrorists on Campus, Violence Against Women, Violence and Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mid-Twentieth Century Blues. Chapter Three!

Campus Culture.  Misogyny 


This is another chapter in my book. You can find it on Amazon!

The vignettes of campus life below seem to be only on the fringe of my experiences. There was so much more!  This chapter hops from one skirmish to another, like battles in a war.  Terrorists hurled bombs in my way.  I never knew when they were coming!

Until I entered college, I was unaware that females were hated.  Neither did I understand what it would be like working in an educational environment where most people claimed they were celibate or chaste (vow of chastity)!

Only recently have we as a nation, become aware of how political parties attempt to suppress the votes of minorities, the poor,  immigrants, and seniors.  We saw it in North Dakota, Florida, Kansas, Alabama, Arizona, Indiana,  Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.  Missouri has also attempted to suppress votes.

And while the topics of voter suppression and misogyny don’t seem to go together, they do.  Throughout ALL of my career, there was a politic of suppression that aimed to stop women from achieving, working, learning, and creating a healthy life. They might hire you, but you were supposed to absolve yourself of ambition and creativity!

Can this be Real?

Many private academic institutions in the twentieth century had rigid rulebooks for their students. Sexes were separated and students lived under the penetrating eye of deans who held the rules close to their hearts.  There were always challenges in fitting into the campus culture of a new school.  Sometimes the rules harmed you and at other times they had “your back.” When I think about all the hurdles I encountered, I wonder why I continued with my education?  I suppose it was my love of learning.  Every class, even if poorly taught or organized, was an adventure into something about which I knew nothing.  I could not leave this landscape, in spite of everything.

Manipulating Students

While in high school I was dating a boy who was invited to take an aptitude test in the Psychology Department at a state university.  If he did well, he would win a scholarship.  I rode along with him to the university and decided to take the test with him.  He did not do well on the test, but I topped it out.  They offered me the scholarship and amenities.  Later in my career, I would interview at that same institution for a teaching position. That story will come soon.

Some of my friends were traveling south to explore a small college in Indiana.  They invited me.  I had never considered going to a small private college.  When we arrived, they treated us like kings and queens.  (They used a false marketing scheme and suspended all of their social rules for the day.  What?) It was a beautiful campus and parks nearby were gorgeous.  It was much more welcoming than the block and steel state university. So, I applied and was accepted.  The only problem was that I did not have any money to pay for college.  I also applied to a couple of private colleges out East after this experience and was accepted, but back then there was virtually no financial support from private colleges.

A New Car is Behind Door #3!

My father and mother wanted me to go to State.  It was a matter of money.  They could not help me with any expenses in college.  My father had told me when I was ten years old that he was going to stop paying for my clothing and the things I needed at school.  And he kept his promise.

Now, when I was about to leave home, he told me that he would buy an automobile for me if I would go to State. He wouldn’t buy a car for me when I was in high school. That was my responsibility.  Even though this was a generous offer, it angered me. Like a rebellious 17-year-old headstrong girl, I decided not to go to State.  I think my father was afraid of any college that was religious in nature, and to an extent, I should have been afraid too. He had experienced rabid fundamentalism in Tennessee before World War II and stayed away from religious people.

My Dad’s Point of View was the Correct View

The college I attended was religious and very strict.  I had no idea that there were rules about dating, how long your skirts could be, and when you had to be in your dorm at night.  (They suspended the rules on recruitment days as mentioned above.) You could not even hold hands with a boy and there was something called the six-inch rule. You could not even sit together. None of those things were discussed with us when I visited the college with my friends.  It was a shock when I arrived on campus.

Skinny Knees were Showing

During my tumultuous first semester, the dean of students reprimanded me because my skirt was too short.  I wonder who reported me?  (Can you imagine taking a ruler and measuring someone’s skirt?  It had to be below your knees.)

The dean told me that they were giving me three days off to fix my clothing.  I told her that I did not have other clothing and all the hems on my skirts had been lengthened.  (No britches allowed!)  They decided to give me only one day of suspension.

Little did I know that if a student was suspended that all grades would be lowered 10% for each day of suspension. My excellent grades went down the drain.  If they had kept their promise of three days, I would have failed the semester.  They also suspended two women who lived next to me in my dorm because they were lesbians.  They left in the middle of the semester.  One day they were there and the next they were being dragged down the hall crying!  No wonder the college went out of business!

I thought it was time for me to leave also, but I had made so many friends that I stayed.  It is safe to say that probably my dad was correct; I should have enrolled at State. My life would have been a lot easier. But, on the other hand, the classes in which I was enrolled at this college were very small.  You could not escape the eye of your professor and I soon learned how to discipline myself to achieve even better grades.  On the other hand, if I had gone to State, I would be a psychologist today!!

No Money

At this time there were virtually no loan programs for students except a government-sponsored teacher program.  So, I had to pay for everything myself and this was a private college that cost three times as much as a public institution.  Rarely could anyone borrow money to go to college back in the 1960’s.  You either had to win a grant or scholarship, come from a well-to-do family, or work your way through school.  This meant that I had to work (sometimes) three part-time jobs.  But this was not enough money to pay for my education.  And it was hardly enough money to pay for rent and buy food.  I often had to go to a food pantry to survive.

Every semester the college would send me notices that they were going to drop me (kick me out of the college)  if I did not pay my tuition.  I was always on the edge.  When summer came I worked two full-time jobs and saved as much of the money as I could for college.  My parents had no cash to help me; they were dealing with issues surrounding a younger brother. One semester an anonymous donor paid for all of my tuition. Another semester the church back home sent some money.  Both of these helped to soften the load. I was grateful!

My grades were very good in college but they would have been better if I had worked only one job at a time.  I was so strapped for funds that I began working full time during my last year of college.  I finished the degree through correspondence courses.

The Greatest Hoax

Immediately I started applying for admission to graduate schools after winning an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies.  Little did I know that my college was unaccredited? (I guess that is how Trump students felt!)  I did not even know what that meant.  Of course, no one around me ever told me that it was not accredited with the North Central Accrediting Association.  Because of that fact, the graduate schools that would accept my credits were few. It was disheartening.  But I am sure that many students have faced the same issues. Neither my family, nor anyone in my neighborhood, nor anyone I knew personally in Michigan had gone to college. (I did date a boy who went to State when I was fifteen but we didn’t talk about accreditation.)  I did not even know how to ask the questions about college.  There was a nurse, a part-time teacher, and a social worker living on our street but no one offered advice.

I found a couple of colleges that would accept my credits if I passed their qualifying tests.  Fortunately I passed the tests but was put on probation for a year at a prestigious graduate school.  It was a thrill to be able to go on to graduate work and not one person measured my skirts! I earned all “A’s” my first semester.  This was a good time in my life.  The professors supported my work and honored me with the graduate award for my thesis, Luke. The Feminist. The M.A. in New Testament and Greek was only my first step toward becoming a professor.

A Graduate School of Celibates for Celibates

If I had known how difficult the path would be to obtain a Ph.D., I am sure that I would have run the other way.  Stepping into a program with professors who literally hated or were afraid of females was probably not a smart thing to do.  But I did not know the path and the people and the difficult days that were ahead of me.  I never dreamed that the cards would be stacked against me.  I was so naive!

During the years prior to entering a Ph.D. program, I taught at a small private college in the south and then became a Personnel Director (Human Resources) for a large retail company.  The small college was Wesleyan but upon arrival I discovered that it was also charismatic.  This meant that at faculty meetings people would scream, dance, and speak in tongues.  I had never experienced this very athletic and vocal type of religious activity.  They actually fell down on the floor.  I became so sick during the first faculty meeting that I had to leave.  In spite of all the issues I encountered at this school, like short skirts again, students voted to give me the Professor of the Year award.  This college was not for me, so I left.  I did miss the free breakfasts!

Human Resources, here I Come!  Underpaid!

In a single day, after resigning from the teaching job, I received several offers of employment.  I took the job as assistant director of personnel responsible for three retail stores. Within months my boss was fired.

He had given me a day off when time sheets were due.  All of these sheets went into the home office in another state.  Detail work was not his forte’ and he failed to include the salary sheets of all the managers.  This meant that the local office professionals had to cut their checks, so they learned how much their superiors were being paid.  The owners of the company were furious!

Without hesitation the managers offered the job of director to me. Of course, it was one third less pay than my boss was making, without an assistant. (They made me work two jobs.) They decided to take advantage of me.  When I took the job they were surprised, “We thought you would argue for higher salary.”  I did not argue about anything because I was planning to leave as soon as I was accepted into a Ph.D. program.

Treading Water until My Ship Arrived!

Very few graduate schools would accept females into a Religious Studies program in the 1970’s. The Civil Rights Actvhad been passed in 1964 and Title IX in 1972 but it had little real effect on admissions. I began applying for entrance into graduate schools around 1974.  The world was just beginning to get used to women being educated at traditionally all-male colleges and universities.  I remember reading The Women’s Room(1977) that captured how females were treated at Harvard.  There were no restrooms for women and a single restroom had to be created.  I faced all of the same problems that the major character in this book faced when I began attending graduate school.

A Midwestern university in the United States accepted me into a Ph.D. program to study Biblical Languages and Literature. Acceptance required a personal interview.  I told them that I had a job and I could not afford to fly out to the university.  So they interviewed me on the phone and they agreed to admit me.  At that time there were no graduate assistantships so I had to pay my own way. I explained to the interviewers that I would have to wait a year so that I could save up money for tuition.  And in 1976 I began my graduate studies.

Translation Work and a Sexist Boss!

Koine Greek Manuscript

Since I did not have a job when I arrived to begin my Ph.D. work, I applied for every job I could find.  A nearby library at another college offered the job of proofing German and other language texts to me.  The advertisement required the ability to read five languages.  Fortunately I had studied German, French, Spanish, Greek, and Egyptian Hieroglyphics.  I spent the next year pouring over texts for them.

When I started applying for jobs as a professor, I went back to my supervisor at the library and asked for a letter of recommendation.  He said that he could not give me a letter because he believed it was a “sin” for women to teach religious studies.  He believed that only males should be allowed to teach.  My credentials were the best for the job at the library and he hired me. Yet I was a female and could not possibly take a career position that should belong to a male in the field of Religious Studies?  Physiology disqualified me from the jobs!!

The Big Decision

“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and who ….”

 In the second year of my Ph.D. work, I was offered an academic advising assistantship.  The job was in the dean’s office of the undergraduate school.  Soon they promoted me to Director. I spent a year in that office and loved it.  In about two years funds became available for a graduate teaching assistantship in the Religious Studies Department.  To my surprise, the priests and brothers voted to offer it to me.  It paid less than my job with the undergraduate college, but it meant that I would have the opportunity to teach.  So I accepted the offer.

My graduate advisor, the Father, came to see me after I had moved into the office where Religious Studies was housed and said to me, “I did not want to vote for you.  But my conscience made me do it.  You are the best student in the program.”  I started to thank him but he interrupted me. “Do you understand that you will be taking away money from a man and his children?  Do you want babies to starve?  You should not be in graduate school.  You are taking the place of a more-deserving male.”  Clutching his Greek Bible to his heart, he pivoted, and briskly walked down the hall and away from me.  It was that very day that I bought a poster of Princess Leia from Star Wars and placed it on my office door.

I have to teach ……… What?”

Something historic had happened in the same Religious Studies department, the new chair was not a priest.  He was a layperson with a Ph.D.  Things were going to change.  One of the first things the new chair did was assign a class on “Marriage and Family” to me.  I protested, “I have never studied this topic.”  And he assured me that I was capable and would do fine.

I studied tons about the history of marriage while teaching this class. Some of the priests heard that I was assigned to teach the class and they protested also.  They argued that a priest must teach this class so that students would be given specific Catholic teaching on the topic.  The chair agreed and told me that some time during the semester a priest would take over teaching my class for a couple of weeks.

Two class days before finals, the chair came to me and said that he had forgotten about the arrangement for a priest to teach my class and that I would have to allow a priest to teach the last two days.  I could not allow him to do that.  This was the end of the semester and the students needed a review and summary of what would be on the final.

He called me into his office and said that if I didn’t allow the priest to come into my class that he would lodge a complaint against me with the graduate dean.  I stood strong. This was a show down!  He picked up the phone and started to dial but then put it back down.  He said he was not going to lodge a complaint against me and that I had every right to want the best for my students.  I never taught that class again nor was it offered to me.

Abusive Males and Gauntlets

While researching ancient texts for my dissertation, I was in a special collection area in the library and translating very old Greek manuscripts when one of my fellow students came over to my table.  He asked me what I was doing.  I was having a great time looking at the scripts and markings left by monks hundreds of years ago on the manuscripts.  Later, while scouring the stacks for reference works, this same student was on the other side of a huge bookshelf.  He looked through the bookshelf at me and yelled, “Bitch!”  What? He never spoke to me again. This was one of those bombs!

And this is the response that I got from many males during my entire career. If they concluded that I was a better candidate at what was important to them, they did not want to be friends with me. They did not want to compete and possibly lose! They verbally assaulted me.

Toward the end of my career, an old friend with whom I had worked on special projects earlier at another college contacted me.  We had the same mentor who recently passed and he had read a remembrance that I published.  He wanted to talk and so invited me to dinner at the next national meeting.  We emailed back and forth and I sent him the website address for my Center for Religious Studies. After seeing my web pages, he wrote back and said, “You work too hard!”  And that was the end of that! No dinner and no conversation ever again!

The Gauntlets I Ran

Agrippa Wells

This is an account of Agrippa Wells and his capture near Lake George, New York by Native Americans 1738-1809.6

 “On approaching the fort, through large numbers of naked, painted savages who were formed into two long ranks, I  was obliged to run the gauntlet. I was told that if I ran quick it would be so much the better, as they would quit when I got to the end of the ranks. I started in the race with all the vigor and resolution I was capable of exerting. When I had      got near the end of the lines I was struck to the ground with a stick or the handle of a tomahawk.

On recovering my senses I endeavored to renew the race, but as I rose someone threw sand in my eyes, which blinded  me so that I could not see where to run. They continued beating me until I was insensible; but before I lostconsciousness I remember wishing they would strike the final blow, for I thought they intended killing me, and that they were too long about it. I was sent to the hospital, and carefully tended by a French doctor, and recovered quicker than I expected.

I asked a Delaware Indian who could speak some English, if I had done anything to offend them which caused them to  beat me so unmercifully? ‘No,’ he replied, ‘it was only an old custom the Indians had, and was like “how do you do?” After this,’ said he, ‘you will be well used.”

Other Native American tribes also used this ritual of “Running the Gauntlet” for prisoners or to punish someone, but they used knives during the run. Throughout my graduate days and career, I ran many gauntlets.

Prolonging the Gauntlet and Setting a Trap for Me

Let’s begin with my language classes.  I majored in Koine Greek (Common Greek spoken by the masses.)  and Classical Hebrew.  I had no experience in reading or writing Hebrew when I entered a Ph.D. program, but I was very interested in it. Placed in a class of three male Jesuit novices, the Father would assign pages in our grammar and then review them during class.  I had a very difficult time vocalizing the Hebrew letters after I had memorized them. My classmates seemed to excel in reading and vocalizing the Hebrew.  I was lagging behind.  Languages had always been my forte’ so I did not know what was happening.

A friend told me that my professor, the Father, was tutoring the males outside of class.  So when they came to class they were performing in an excellent manner.  I realized that I had been set up to fail. And while I had paid an enormous amount of money for this graduate class, I dropped it.  I searched for an acceptable introductory class in Hebrew at other institutions and found a kind Orthodox Jew at a community college who agreed to tutor me in Hebrew.  I had no trouble learning how to read, to write, and to vocalize Classical and Modern Hebrew.

There is one caveat. My Jewish teacher taught me how to vocalize Hebrew with an Ashkenazic accent but my teachers in the Ph.D. program vocalized with a Sephardic accent.  Ashkenazic was steeped in German tradition and Sephardic had Spanish roots.  So this created a little tension when I read Hebrew in class.  They were always correcting me!

The Orthodox Jew was a wonderful person.  He even invited me to a Jewish service on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath).  And while I sat side by side with him in class, I was told that if I visited the local Jewish synagogue, I would have to sit in the back with the women. The men ran the service at the front of the temple.  I declined the invitation! But at other synagogues during my career, I was asked to read the Scriptures in Hebrew for Jewish congregations.  What an honor that was!

I was also taught classes in Judaism by an adjunct (part time) Reform Rabbi for two semesters.  The Rabbi was so creative.  He used multiple forms of teaching strategies in the classroom, which included games, music, fun facts, singing, funny quizzes, and more.  As I look back at my graduate days, I think he was the one person who taught me how to strive to be an excellent teacher in the classroom!

Bombs Away!  Passing a German and Greek Exam

A couple of years before entering the Ph.D. program, I had enrolled in German classes at a college in North Carolina and passed them.  But my advisor discounted those classes. I was told that I would have to pass an oral exam to fulfill the German requirement. My advisor gave me a twenty-page technical German article to translate.  I spent an entire week hovered over the article.  The exam was to be oral and had to be taken in his office, “with the door open” (as he told me).

It was my first oral exam and very odd indeed.  The Father would point to a sentence and ask me to translate it. He did this many times.  In the middle of the test, he asked me if I had memorized the article?  What?  The last sentence he asked me to translate had one word in it that I could not find anywhere.  Remember, we did not have computers at this time.  So I did my best with the sentence except for this one word.  He said, “You fail!”  I asked why?  And he said that I did not know the one word.  So I asked him,  “What does the word mean?”  He answered,“I don’t know.  You pass.”

This happened to me many times.  I suppose it taught me to stand up for myself.  During one final oral exam in Greek, the Father was doing the same thing.  We had read at least 100 pages of Greek in the class and I had to sight read from anywhere he pointed.  (I had to translate the Greek without any notes.) The same thing happened again.  I missed two or three phrases or sentences or I translated in a way of which he did not approve.  He failed me!  I argued that I was the best student in the class.  I handed in all of my work with excellent grades and never missed a class. “How could you fail me?”  He simply said, “Okay, you pass with an A.”

Tests that are not Tests but SOMETHING ELSE!

Studying the Dead Sea Scrolls was one of the highlights of my graduate education.  I enrolled in a class on the Gospel of John and created a research paper comparing the “Teacher of Righteousness” in the Scrolls with stories of Jesus found in the Gospel of John.  What a great adventure this was because I was translating both Hebrew and Greek!

Every day in the “John” class our professor would give us a Greek language test over the current assigned reading.  My first quizzes were all “D’s.”  I could not understand it because I had been studying Greek for several years.  (As above, I had a M.A. in Greek.) And The Gospel of John is a very easy text to translate.  So I asked the fellow next to me if I could look at his quizzes.  He had substantial errors but achieved all “A’s” on the quizzes.  How could that be?

I took several quizzes to the Professor and pointed out that the deductions on my quizzes were wrong.  I also took my classmate’s quizzes and showed him that he had many errors but was given a top grade.  The professor never gave a quiz over the Greek again and he never explained the reasons for discontinuing them.

My first guess was that my professor did not know Greek as well as I did. (Later, I discovered that he had majored in Hebrew.  And, his Greek was minimal.) My second guess was that an assistant was grading the quizzes and marked them incorrectly.  Could the downgrading of my quizzes been intentional?  I never discovered the truth.

Artemis is Here!

A reproduction of Artemis!

During a history class, one of the Fathers decided that he was going to describe the ancient Goddess of Artemis.  Artemis stood at the gateway to Ephesus in the first century C.E.  She had “a thousand” breasts and represented fertility on the grandest sense.

The Father began describing this many-breasted goddess as she stood in ancient times.  Then he continued by explaining that she had long brown hair, hazel eyes, etc., with a description of the clothing I was wearing and my body.  Everyone in the class began to look at me and laugh because he was describing me, but I did not “get” it.  It was really an embarrassing moment.  I suppose that it would be called “harassment” today.   I wonder where the Father’s mind was?  Yes, I am sure it was there.

Archaeology More or Less and an Apology?

I loved studying archaeology, enrolled in several classes on the undergraduate and graduate level. Perhaps I would work as an archaeologist some day? While working on my Master’s Degree, I studied ancient languages like Akkadian, Ancient Sumerian, Egyptian Hieroglyphics and read extensively in Middle Eastern Archaeology.

So I enrolled in an archaeology class during my Ph.D. program. The same thing happened to me, as in other classes, with the grades.  I knew how to begin to evaluate an archaeological site (I had had plenty of experience in other classes.) and presented papers on different sites in Israel. All were marked with low grades.  I talked with the professor and he would not change a grade nor help me in any way.  (I was the only woman in the class as I was in many other classes.) I was given a “B” in the class.

A decade after graduating I met my archaeology professor at an academic conference and we began to talk about archaeology.  He told me that he still “felt” bad about the grade he gave me.  (How could this be?) He knew it was not reflective of my work, but most of the professors did not want women in their classes, and giving us poor grades was a way of deterring us.  This professor was not a priest.  I should mention that there was only one other woman in the Ph.D. program at the time.

What Happened to My Research Paper?

 In those days, the 20th century, we would hand in our papers at the end of the semester and retrieve them when we returned from semester break. I was given a “B” in a class where I had received “A’s” on everything except the research paper. I went to talk with my professor about the paper.  Could I have it?  “No.”  “What do you mean, No?”  “It has been thrown away?”  “Why?”  In all my years of college, I had never made copies of a paper before I submitted it to a professor.

I inquired about my grade.  “Oh, it was a failing paper.”  “Do you know why?”  “No, I don’t remember. ” I was caught without evidence of my work.  After that experience I always kept a copy of the papers I submitted for grades. To make this story even worse, this professor (a priest)  published my research (the very paper that he said had a failing grade) as his own.  I was horrified to see my paper published in a journal with his name attached.  But what could I do? (I decided to contact my professor after all these years and confront him while I was writing this book.  Unfortunately or fortunately, he had passed away.)

The Sisters and Me

 As a young graduate student, I did not have enough money to pay for an airline ticket plus a hotel room to attend a national conference.  The first meeting of the American Academy of Religion I attended was in New York City and I shared a room with a Roman Catholic Sister. Eventually I took over teaching her classes.  One of the classes was, “Woman in Theological Perspective,” which I changed to “Gender and Religions.”  I really appreciated this Sister.  She was on the cutting edge of redefining gender over 40 years ago.

I shared a room with her again when we attended another national convention in Texas.  We had different schedules and I was giving papers and meeting with publishers, so I did not see her during the first day of the conference.  When I arrived back at our hotel room late at night there was another woman in bed with the Sister.  What was I to do?

This Sister was senior professor in my graduate program and I did not know what was going on and she was not about to tell me.  That woman, whom I did not know (and the Sister did not introduce me), stayed in the room during the entire conference without introducing herself or paying anything.  That was the last time I shared a room with the Sister.

The Dissertation Mentor.  A Bright Star in My Life

Ages have passed through your mind.  Your questions penetrate and my inquiries seem so mundane.  Forty years of research. Forty years of publishing.  Forty years of inestimable meetings with minds who are changing the world.  Your reprimands could be brutal, my experience so lacks.  Your inquires could be edged with venom, my soul is so vulnerable.  Yet, gently you encourage me.  Quietly urging me to complete my dissertation.  Then, one day, without the slightest hesitation, you staunchly stand when I arrive and claim me as, “Colleague,” “Comrade,” and “Doktor!”  April 1, 1980 Marla J. Selvidge

As I traveled through my classes, I came across a very intelligent professor who was not a priest.   I will call  him “mentor.”  He allowed me to design my own assignments in the classes I enrolled with him. How creative he was!  I wrote and wrote and wrote!  He became my friend for many years!

The time came for me to research and write a dissertation.  For years I had produced papers on a variety of topics on women in the New Testament.  I decided to study the topic of “women” in the Gospel of Mark.  My Father professors made fun of me.  They said, “There are no tulips in Mark.”  This sexual metaphor was a way of attempting to intimidate me.

I began my research.  I would write thirty pages and my advisor, the Father, would write 30 pages of criticism. This went on for months.  I finally realized that the Father was never going to allow me to graduate.  I appealed to the graduate dean.  I told him my story and he suggested that I choose a dissertation director from outside the university.  He recognized the bias that I was facing.  (This Father was eventually asked to leave the university because of his verbal abuse of undergraduate female students.  Parents complained!)

Mentor came to mind to serve as a dissertation director, so I asked him, and he agreed to help me.  For the next year we worked on the dissertation.  There were two Jesuits who were on the committee.  One of the Fathers decided not to review my dissertation during the time I was writing it.  In those days, we did not have computers.  And I did not even own a typewriter (I could not afford to buy one.). I had to rent an IBM Selectric typewriter so that I could make corrections as I was typing. Over the course of a year, I typed the 250-page dissertation at least six times.  It was a very high mountain to climb.

Finally it came down to a couple of months before graduation and the Father who had never read any of my dissertation, rejected it.  He wrote that it was blasphemy and I would harm the public image of the university. He ordered me to rewrite and cut out sixty pages of it.  Well, that would have meant that it would take me months to complete and, even then, there was no assurance that the father would pass me. So, I gave up!

I waived a White Flag!

I give up!

I had spent four years battling the priests and other professors and I did not have any energy left to continue the battle.  So I informed the chair of the department and the dean of the graduate school that I was dropping out of the program.  Within days the graduate dean called me and told me that I was going to graduate and that I should not worry about anything.  The Father who rejected my dissertation called me and cursed me out and told me that I would be a “laughing stock” as a professor.  What a fight! I lost twenty pounds going through this ordeal.

This experience taught me that sometimes when you give up, you may win. I never expected the call from the graduate dean and I thought my career in Religious Studies was over.  But it wasn’t.

Publishing and Finding a Job.  The Perilous Advisor!

 Well, the Father was wrong about me and in a few months my dissertation, Woman, Cult, and Miracle Recital, was published.  In those early days, I had to submit my work with only my initials so that the editors would not know that I was a woman because females and their abilities were discounted.  It really helped me to find publishing outlets.  After they accepted my work and I had a signed contract, then I used my real name.

My advisor, the Father, when asked to write a letter of recommendation for me, told schools that I would make a good “secretary.”  This was a code word to others that I was an incompetent scholar.  So, the Father ruined my chances of landing good jobs at several colleges before I found out what he was writing.  After that, I would not allow anyone to send a letter of recommendation without my knowledge of its contents.

It was during those times that colleges and universities were made aware that women were humans too, and that they should be interviewed for jobs. I don’t know how many interviews I went on one semester, maybe a dozen, but the people at the colleges and universities did not want to hire a female.  They wanted to demonstrate that they had considered a female for a job so that they would not be charged with discrimination.  I was just fulfilling a quota.  Somehow I was offered jobs but it was a miracle that it happened.

Jealousy and Abuse

A dean at one of the institutions where I worked asked me how many colleges or universities wanted to interview me.  I told him that I had a dozen or so interviews but none of them was the job I wanted.  In an angry voice I will never forget, he said to me, “Little girl, you better take one of those jobs.  I had one interview for a dean’s position and I convinced the people here at this university to hire me.”  He told me that I was being selfish and how he had to humble himself and almost beg for a job.  He was angry that a woman would have more opportunities than he did.  But did I really have more opportunities?

The Bureaucrats Win!

Earlier I mentioned a State university.  One of the first institutions where I interviewed for a job immediately after receiving my Ph.D. was at State.  I thought “wow” life has come full circle.  This was the same university that my parents wanted me to attend!  What a wonderful time we had at the interview and they told me that I would be receiving a contract offer in a couple of days.  I waited and waited.  Finally I called and they told me that there would be no contract.  They would not give me a reason.

At least four years later, a woman came up to me at one of the national conferences and told me that their department had been watching my career. Huh?  Years ago they had voted to give me the job at State but their dean had his own candidate.  If they did not hire his candidate they would lose the position.  They had no choice.  She told me that the man who they hired was coming up for promotion and tenure and he would not get it.  The job would be open again and would I apply?  Wrong!  The position was never advertised.  The dean gave his candidate promotion and tenure.  He over-ruled the wishes of the department again.  Such is the power that a bureaucrat uses for his friends! 

Planning a Defence and Fighting Back

 As I reflect upon some of these nightmarish experiences, I believe they taught me to stand up and argue for myself in the face of the powerful.  It also taught me never to completely trust males.  I protected myself when males tried to sexually assault me, but I also saved myself hundreds of times from personal, political, and hate-filled attacks in the academy. In spite of everything, I was a survivor! Yahoo!  And I am not really sure “why” and “how” I survived!

The next chapter will highlight the underside of faculty in higher education!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge























Posted in Misogynism, Misogynism in Higher Education, Religious Beliefs destroy females careers, Religious hatred, Strategies to derail females, Terrorists and their Religions, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mid-Twentieth Century Blues, Chapter Two!

Choosing College

 I was privileged to come from a family of working poor and knew that I could survive on very little cash.  (I say privileged here because my childhood prepared me for the rest of my life.)  All of us had to pitch in if we were going to have good meals all week long.  My parents taught me practical skills like cooking, canning, gardening, lawn maintenance, painting and fixing almost anything, managing money, responsibility, and sacrifice.

This is another chapter in my book. You can find it on Amazon!

I remember one time the ice cream truck was heading down our street and mother wanted to purchase an ice cream for us.  All she could find was 5 cents and that would buy one ice-cycle (I think that is what they were called?) that my brother and I would split.  No ice cream just colored frozen water!

I started babysitting children when I was around eight years old and landed a real part-time job at fifteen for seventy-five cents an hour.  All of my clothing was purchased by putting it on lay-away and then paying it off gradually as I earned money from babysitting.  My parents made me responsible for purchasing everything in my bedroom except the bed.  And when the time came to drive, I bought my own car.  Throughout high school, I worked at one job or another and hung out at the libraries in my spare time.

No Engineering Degree for Me!

There was always a choice for me.  I could stay home, just outside of Detroit, Michigan, and work for one of the BIG THREE (GM, Ford, or Chrysler) or go to college.  Although some of my close neighbors asked me later in life, “How did you know to go to college?  We didn’t have any money and didn’t know how to do it!”  I don’t really know why I went to college and most of the kids in my neighborhood did not. And why did I have the knowledge about how to do it? I was in a college-preparatory track in high school but they never told us anything about colleges.

Most people could earn a living if they lived near the Motor City. Almost everyone I knew worked for one of the Big Three or a factory that supplied parts to the three.  One of my cousins designed automobiles, an uncle worked on designing and testing tires, and an adopted uncle built plants for GM.

Both my mom and dad worked in small factories with low pay that supplied parts to automobiles and military jeeps. Our next-door neighbor worked for Chrysler and they seemed to have more money than we did, with a new car every year. Unfortunately those job opportunities in the auto industry are virtually gone for many people in Michigan today.

General Motors offered an institute where I could have studied engineering.  But I wanted more out of life than to work on a factory floor like my mother and father and many aunts and uncles.  I had been around the making of cars my whole life.  I dreamed of a different life outside of reading automobile magazines and a fixing a transmission on the floor of our garage. Earning money is a necessity but wealth was never a goal in my life.

I applied to many schools and was accepted at some of the best schools on the East Coast.  I wanted to attend Vassar, but there was not even enough money for car fare! Oh, and who paid for my college?  I did.  I worked two full-time jobs in the summers and several part-time jobs during the school year!!

I Wanted more than a Pay Check From a College Education

Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva!

When I entered college, I hoped it would answer many of the basic questions I had about life.  Why am I here?  Do we have a purpose in living?  From where did humans originate?  Is there a central mind of the universe?

I wanted college to teach me about other cultures and languages with the hopes of visiting those countries.  I wanted to write, and think, and talk with others about a host of ethical and personal issues. I wanted to meet and make friends with people of other faiths, ethnic backgrounds, and countries.  I guess I wanted college to lead me to the Promised Land.

I had read many books about religions including Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet all through high school, and recently re-discovered him in my research on Elvis Presley.  There was wisdom in his writings that I think stayed with me my entire life.

The Prophet

“Say not, I have found the truth, but rather, I have found a truth. Say not, I have found the path of the soul.  Say rather,   I have met the soul walking upon my path. For the soul         walks upon all paths.  The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.  The soul  unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.” (55) And again he writes,   “Your daily life is your temple and your religion.  Whenever you enter into it take with you your all. (78)”3

Studying languages with different scripts and the peoples who created those scripts was so appealing.  It went to the top of my list of things to study.   I wanted to understand world politics and social issues. I wanted to help others to understand each other and the peoples on the planet.  I wanted to be involved in life in a different way than just earning a living!

College never reached my high expectations, but it did lay a foundation for me to explore my interests for the rest of my life. At the writing of this book, I have visited around seventy-five countries, fifty states in the U.S.A., and numerous islands in the Caribbean and other places in the world.

And college never really answered my primary questions. Traveling, socializing with people who lived across the pond, and intellectual conversations had to be developed outside the academy.  There was only limited conversation and contact with international colleagues for a variety of reasons at the institutions where I worked.  The academic societies to which I belonged became lifesavers and supporters and filled the hollowness of my academic experience.

This may sound very unreal for people who have attended college.  I can remember only one conversation with the librarian who purchased books for Religious Studies that was insightful and stimulating.  Most of the conversations I had with colleagues mirrored grievances and fears of the bureaucrats.  Other discussions involved incidents and news on campus.  Not one colleague ever stirred my soul with unanswerable questions or challenging thoughts.

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge



























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“Mid-Twentieth Century Blues” from “Signals from Mars”

Excerpts from the book, 

Final Exam Jihad.  An Opportunity for Loneliness

Signals from Mars is a blog where I write about controversial issues.  Final Exam Jihad is a heartfelt attempt to explain what it was like to work as a female professor in the male professions of Religious Studies and Biblical Studies.  I was always breaking down doors, crawling around them, negotiating a key, wedging them open, tunneling under them, painting them, or sitting in the dark waiting for them to open.  Sometimes there was no door to open and I fell down the well!

Someone said after reading the above book,  “You would never believe that these things happened to someone.”  Or, as another person exclaimed, “She is exactly right.  This is the way it is.”  For the next few months in this blog, I will publish excerpts from Final Exam Jihad, a book published in 2017.

My jobs were dynamic.  I loved curriculum development, marketing the major and minor, taking students around the world, creating edgy classes like “Elvis Memphis Messiah,” and inviting guest speakers to lead us to the promised land of their religions.  Every moment was fraught with controversy.  Every moment required a encyclopedic imagination.  Every moment required full throttle energy.  I chose it.  I did it. And I am so happy that I survived until retirement.

The Excerpts

Each time I release an excerpt, I will email you.  If you would prefer not receiving this blog, please notify me.  My blog is fun and exciting and full of wonderment.  The trails are stocked full of adventure.  Final Exam Jihad will challenge you to see through the idealistic rhetoric of higher education to its often shady corps.  Even to this day, as much as I believe in education as a path to happiness and economic security, I am stunned by my own experiences and the types of peoples that surrounded me.  The #MeToo! movement could never unearth all the the abuse and cultural bias toward females in our country.  So here goes!


 “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  Vivian Greene1

The mid-twentieth century was not kind to females seeking to enter graduate schools with Ph.D. degrees in Religious Studies.  (Mine was in Biblical Languages and Literatures.)  Federal civil rights laws gave women a chance at entering some of those graduate schools but it did not guarantee that they would graduate.  If the divine was a male then surely only a man could represent the divine or even discuss the divine.

Women had no place in that hierarchy.  In fact, the only other female in my graduate program told me that she thought that females were not created in the image of the divine.  They are tainted and should never assume a leadership position in a religious organization. Why was she in graduate school?

In the 1970’s I was the first (or second female?) to be admitted into a Ph.D. program in the historically all-male school where I studied.  I was the first female to teach at a small college in Wisconsin and the second female (first lay woman) in a religious school in Ohio.  Ironically I was the first woman to teach Religious Studies at a women’s college in the South and another religious school in the North. In my final job, I created a program in Religious Studies where there had not been one for more than a hundred and fifty  years.

Other jobs in the fields of religion were equally challenging for females, except for missionaries.  It seemed as if religious organizations did not mind sending women to underdeveloped and under-supported countries.  The hoops that women had to jump through in the twentieth century are evidenced in the titles of books that were published during this time period. Women were changing traditional ideas about religions.


Lethal Love. Feminist Literary Readings of Biblical Love Stories

Sexism and the War System

Changing of the Gods

After Patriarchy.  Feminist Transformations of World Religions

Her Story.  Women In Christian Tradition

A Lesser Life

You Just Don’t Understand

Sexism and God-Talk

And there were hundreds and hundreds of other books published as women broke down the doors to the graduate schools and helped us to think differently about the male interpretation and domination of the Bible and world religions.

Phyllis Trible was one of those scholars who broke through the barriers and opened the doors to give us insight into the kind of life a woman has if she chooses a career in a field of Religious Studies. I will never forget her short piece entitled “The Opportunity of Loneliness.  The Ordination of Mary Beale,” published in 1978.

“Mary Beale is set apart for the ministry in an age when the church stands on the boundary….  And she will know the loneliness of being set apart, ‘ Why, Mary, you don’t           look old enough to be a minister,’ some will say.  And Mary will know the loneliness of age.  ‘Why, Mary, you’re too pretty to be a clergyman!’  So runs the ugly compliment                  which isolates, alienates, and objectifies a human being; the loneliness of beauty intertwined with the loneliness of sex.”

Certainly I was not on a path to become a minister,  but I was studying with priests who did not want to open any door for a woman. When Trible published this piece I was in the middle of my graduate studies and everything she observed was certainly true of my career from the beginning until the end.

On the pages of this book are chronicles of a few of my struggles while working as a professor in higher education. It is not a pretty story. Bullies and abusers dogged my trail and I soon learned to keep a written record of their attacks, and many of those notes are included in these pages.  I wish I had documented more of the cruelty that I experienced while I was in college and graduate school.

Here are some of the files I saved and used for this book.

During that forty-year relationship with higher education I was offered full-time contracts at approximately six colleges and universities.  While working full-time at one institution, I often taught a class or two for other institutions.  Pay was so low that you had to teach at other institutions to survive.  So the number of colleges where I actually taught is far larger.

My long career covered many institutions because tenure-track (permanent) jobs were not always available.  I obtained a one-year contract, a three-year contract, and finally I was offered tenure-track positions.  I never really found an institution that I loved.  There were people in those institutions that I cherished, but I kept searching for the best place for me.

So often I was competing with people from Harvard, Princeton, Chicago, or other top-notch schools.  Sometimes I won the job and sometimes I did not.  I always wondered if the Ivy League gang won better jobs (and environments) than I did? In the end, I began to grow older, and knew I had to settle somewhere. My utopia did not exist!

This collection of stories is taken from experiences in many institutions. Details have been omitted that could pinpoint which institution or person I am discussing, so the construction of occasional sentences might seem odd. The most vicious examples of hate mail are omitted because the letters are too painful to share.  Also omitted are stories of some very difficult battles that are impossible to describe in a few pages because the documentation may be hundreds of pages, and so personal that I cannot share them.  Sometimes I will refer to an issue but I will not go into detail about it.  Some of my former colleagues or students might read this book and see themselves on the pages; this may or may not be correct because of the breadth of years this book spans.

One college where I taught was very different. I did not understand reasons for the hostility toward students and faculty that was so freely exhibited by bureaucrats.  I did not understand why faculty would not return my phone calls or emails, or why I felt that people were just going through the motions in their jobs. Staff was anxious and moody and did not seem to get along with each other either.

I decided to read several textbooks on abnormal psychology.  They helped me to identify the strange behaviors that I encountered.  This was not the first time that I had experienced abnormal behavior, but I think it was more pronounced.  And abnormal behavior comes in many forms. A disproportionate number of my stories come from this time in my career.

One job directive was to create a Center for Religious Studies where there had been no department.  I did not know when I accepted the position that there would be little, if any, support for Religious Studies or me on campus. The bureaucrats would never authorize another full-time person to work with me.  That first budget consisted of $100 which was not enough money to staff office supplies for a month let alone a year. It was a lonely and challenging job because, in the main, most people did not understand the academic study of religions. Anxiety gripped those on campus who were afraid of outsiders and their anger came running at me.  They argued that their brand of Christianity was the only brand to teach!

The title of the book is unusual. Within Islam “jihad” is a term that refers not necessarily to a physical war but a war that is waged within a person to make herself better. I waged both a ceaseless internal and external war in higher education.  “Final Exam” refers to the end of my war. I graduated to a new life outside the system.  As you read this book you will begin to understand the subtitle, “An Opportunity for Loneliness.”

Critics might suggest that the prose in this memoir is simple, and it is.   I consciously chose to use common language.  I could have organized the book into highfalutin categories with opaque terms that other academics would appreciate, but then I would have left out the rest of the world.

There is a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox that speaks to the pain in writing this book.

Ella Wheeler

Solitude (1883 in the public  domain.)

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;

Weep, and you weep alone;

For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,

But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer;

Sigh, it is lost on the air;

The echoes bound to a joyful sound,

But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;

Grieve, and they turn and go;

They want full measure of all your pleasure,

But they do not need your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many;

Be sad, and you lose them all….

                                                                   (1883 in the public domain)

I am hoping that this “woe” book about my life will not drive away readers. The life and career of a newly minted professor in the latter part of the twentieth century may shock you. Your first inclination will be to think, “I don’t believe her.  This does not happen.”  But it does happen and it is still happening every day to female professors (and other minorities) in the United States, in spite of all the laws on the books against it.

While editing this volume, we elected a new president. The bullying, emphasis on white male supremacy, hate, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and winning at all costs were something that I experienced throughout my career as a professor.

I remember discussing this type of environment with Canadian colleagues at a national meeting more than ten years ago, and they thought that I was out of my mind.  They argued that females had gained equal standing and were supported by their institutions.  They did not live in the United States and had never experienced the marginalization and alienation that I had.  Now, with the onslaught of the new presidential regime, I feel vindicated, yet sad.  These guys have always been out there abusing somebody. Every day I read a vicious tweet or verbal attack, it brings me back to the academic institutions and my own post-traumatic feelings.

While there were many detractors, predators, and downright mean people with whom I worked, as I plowed through thousands of files, I discovered that there were also wonderful people who supported and appreciated my contributions. This was an ah-hah moment for me! Digging up the dossier (evidence of scholarship, community work, and committees) I submitted for promotion I found scores of wonderful letters. They humbled me.

During the throes of a “war” you sometimes forget that there are supporters.  I think I forgot them because the last ten years of my career were more than horrible. But often, when I had a proposal before a committee, someone who I did not know would champion my cause.  I was so grateful for these anonymous supporters!  It is to these people and other gentle souls that I dedicate this book. They helped me to make and survive the long journey.

This is not an advertisement to purchase my book.  I  have decided to share it to everyone who wants to read this blog, for FREE!  But if you would like to purchase it, click here!

As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge



Posted in #MeToo, Misogynism in Higher Education, Terrorists on Campus, The Secrets of Women, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Call an Ambulance! She is Heading for the Classroom Again!

No Credit – Travel Workshops are Right Around the Corner!

Retired in 2014, I thought my academic days were over!  It was time to start a new chapter in my life, whatever that was!  Post-professor life included four years of  learning how to read music and play the piano.  I threw in a few other music theory courses along the way.  During this same time, a slew of words found their way to my computer and several books emerged.  Now — I am changing gears and taking a break from publishing.  Without hesitation I am stepping into the waters of community education.  Click on “community education”  to discover Longview classes.

Coming in the Fall!

This fall, I am privileged to offer three travel workshops at Longview Community College.  Next spring I will be offering Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament, Septuagint, and early Christian writers.  What an exciting journey this will be.  If you are local and reading this blog, join me at Longview!  See descriptions below!

Purchasing an RV: Roadie Advice

A Guide to RVing across Alaska  

Lecturing on Cruise Ships: How to Get Through the Door  

Canada Place is gorgeous!

Purchasing an RV: Roadie Advice 

Do you know what it means to dump your RV?

If you are considering an RV purchase, you probably have a lot of questions. Which one is best for you?  How much should you pay for an RV? Get advice from someone who has camped all of her adult life, beginning with a tent, then a pop-up trailer, a Class B motorhome, and now a Class A motorhome. You will learn about different types and brands of RVs, negotiation tactics, inspection points, and take home some resources to help you make your decision. At the end of class, we will discuss great spots across North America to take your RV. 
Instructor: Marla J. Selvidge
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 9
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Fee: $24

A Guide to RVing across Alaska

This is the first slide of my presentation!

Are you dreaming of visiting Alaska? Whatever your idea of adventure is, you will find it in Alaska.  Consider flying to Anchorage and renting a motorhome for a few weeks, or take a cruise along the Inside Passage and then rent an RV for another two weeks. One of the best ways to explore the byways of this beautiful state is in an RV. Get acquainted with the best roads to travel and exciting things to see and do. You will come away with resources to plan your trip and photos to inspire you. Optional book for purchase will be available in class ($10, payable to instructor).  
Instructor: Marla J. Selvidge
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 16
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Fee – $24

Lecturing on cruise ships is a bit like being a rock star!

Lecturing on Cruise Ships: How to Get Through the Door  

If you enjoy taking cruises and can put together a PowerPoint presentation, you could cruise for free! Learn the process of applying and finding opportunities to lecture about a variety of topics. Discuss types of topics that cruise directors are looking for and strategies to develop your presentation. Your well-traveled instructor will review some delightful cruise ports that you may be interested in visiting. 
Instructor: Marla J. Selvidge
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 23
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Fee: $24 

Coming in the Spring!

Koine Greek 101 or Ancient Greek

Koine or “common” Greek was the language of every day people from about the 4th century B.C.E. until the 6th century C.E. in the Middle East.  It was also the language used by the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament), the New Testament, and the early Christian writers. In this introductory class, students will study the Greek alphabet and grammar, while learning how to pronounce and spell basic vocabulary words.  We will throw in a few phrases and help the students to learn how to find words in a Greek dictionary.  By the end of the class students will have the ability to translate simple Greek sentences.   “Why Study Greek?” may help a student to understand the importance of the language on many different levels. You can find the video here.  

This  blog is entitled, “Signals From Mars.”  Mars was a nickname someone gave to me when I was a kid.  This is the place where I write about controversial subjects.  I thought that my new courses did not necessarily belong in or maybe they do?

Again, come out and join us for the fun! Email if you have questions!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Students Were Afraid to Learn About Other Religions!

The Classroom Became a War Zone!

Excerpt from

Final Exam Jihad.  An Opportunity for Loneliness.

 “You and Me”

We started together, you and me.  We were new on campus.  We found new friends and faced new challenges.  Some of us were away from our family for the first time.  We struggled together. We listened to each other.  We even shouted at each other.  Somehow we managed to say “Good Morning” to each other.  Each day we met to discuss a new way of looking at religions. You and me, we even grew up a little. You and me, we made it through dull days, high days, lonely days, low days, snow days, test days, homework days, think days, and project days.  You and me…I’m so glad that we made it to the end together!          

Combative and disrespectful students became the norm!

This poem was composed following my first semester of teaching at a very small college. (In fact, it is the college where I met Tom!) Life and teaching was very different in 1980 than it is today. In the beginning, students were more respectful and generally eager to learn. In the beginning students were dedicated. Those years were spent teaching in private colleges or universities. As the years wore on, the students wore out. They did not necessarily enroll in college to learn.

At one college, I experienced a hostile breed of students who feared other religions. They were shocked at each world religion we studied so they began an assault. Besides the notes and hideous cartoons placed under my door, students also taped my lectures and brought them to the president to prove that I was teaching “heresy,” whatever that meant to those students. There were flyers taped on my door and letters to the editor in the school newspaper. (I wish I had saved more of these.)

Here are a few of the notes that were placed under my door:

            “Dear Dr. Selvidge, My Sunday School class decided to tell   you about the Bible. They said, “Believe in the Bible.” The  reason why you need to believe in the Bible is because, “It’s   True!” You need to believe in God. You love him. We are  going to pray that you will believe in the Bible.”

Eight students signed this note. I suppose I received it because I was teaching the history and development of the New Testament rather than using the bible as a rulebook or spiritual book by which to live. Another note came with an invitation to meet with “Spirit-filled Christians.”

“Come and join us if you can stand being that close to the Holy Spirit.”

Another student seemed to think that I was making fun of Christians and invited me to her Baptist church so that I would learn about “real” Christianity. I was teaching about the history of Christianity about which she had never been exposed!

Students dared me to teach them anything!

Misguided students haunted my office often waving their arms in the air as they walked back and forth in the hallway. One wanted to bring his denomination on campus and teach classes in his faith. He argued that other colleges did it. But I argued that as a state university we have to be neutral with regard to religions. We cannot teach faith. We can teach about the religions but not teach people to be religious. He was very upset and complained to everyone he knew that I was discriminating against his faith.

A Muslim student did not like a cartoon that he said was posted on one of the bulletin boards outside my office. He complained to a professor in another department and they came down to reprimand me. Their ammunition was verbal abuse. But, they could not find the cartoon? Maybe the student had seen it on another bulletin board? They were so irate I had to call security. And the professor sent an apology to me after being counseled by security and his chair.

I received many letters from one student who claimed he was the Messiah.

            “I still believe that I am the Messiah, especially the David of  Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and the Psalms. And I also believe that am “The faithful and True Witness, the First-begotten From the Dead, and The Root and  Stock of David….”

            Well, Marla, what I am trying to say throughout this whole letter is that I   am lonely for intellectual stimulation, and I   would like to hear from you.    I would be glad to answer all of your questions.” What?

There was always a fear that a student would harm you!

I have shared only the tip of the iceberg with you in this excerpt.  Soon students would bring a gun to my office, place a fist in my face, (as a faculty member had done), hit and kick students as they left class, stand up and shout at me in class, and stalk me for years.  And the local radio station would call me “The Whore of Babylon.”

One student stood up in class and told my guest speaker, “We would kill you in my country!”  And other shouted, “Who the hell are you to grade my paper?” And another student thought that I had a sub-machine gun behind the desk! Huh?


Thanks for reading the blog.  I hope you will have the time and interest to read the book.  It will be a real eye-opener as to what a professor experiences in her  lofty (?) job in higher education.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.



As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Disillusionment in Higher Education, Education not War, Higher Education, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Jihad, Killing a Professor, Misogynism, Misogynism in Higher Education, Religious Beliefs destroy females careers, Religious hatred | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Final Exam Jihad is Published!

A Professor’s Memoir That May Shock You!

Creating this memoir about my career in higher education was both a wrenching and uplifting experience.  As I scoured the thousands and thousands of documents that I had saved over decades, I realized that I had forgotten many of the battles I fought in the schools where I worked.  Also lost in my memory were many of the wonderful people who supported me in the journey.  Thanks to all of you!

I am also so thankful that my very grounded childhood provided  the strength and practical mentality to keep me healthy through all of those years.

I was going to upload several excerpts from the book but Kindle has stolen my thunder and made available at least two chapters on Amazon.  They have chosen the introduction and prelude which lay the foundation for the book.  You can find those words at this  link.  (Click on the word “link.”)  I think I will eventually share one additional piece from the 280 page book on this blog site.

I must apologize for Kindle’s formatting on the digital version.  Those problems are not (and not mine) found in the hard copy which you can also purchase.   You do not have to own a Kindle to be able to read this book.  You can download a digital version to a laptop or whatever.

The first excerpt I will share with you is a fun piece I wrote long ago.  I imagined what would happen if all the women were forced to leave campus.  It has a similar message found in  the movie “A Day Without A Mexican.”  The tall dark and handsome men become the losers.  He He!


“The Women are Gone!”

The plan, conceived in the secret hallowed meeting rooms of the top dog administrators, was declared a monumental success. Only males were to be allowed on campus. Signs were erected all over campus.


Fireworks were set off from the administration building and the rest of the campus danced their brains out.  The feeding frenzy on campus was amazing. All of the female restrooms sported new “Men Only” signs. The men could do what they wanted whenever they wanted to do it! No competition! No criticism of techno-oppression or rampant greedy capitalism. No hen-pecking about equality and fairness.

It took a couple of weeks before the campus community realized how successful their militaristic campaign against women had been. They began the reign of terror by targeting strong female leaders on campus. Misogynistic plans and strategies began with tenured female professors. They were prohibited from chairing committees and given large teaching loads.

Next there were abusive confrontations with female staff and administrators who also jumped ship. Some of the women were humiliated by being assigned to inexperienced younger females half their age.

Any academic program containing diversity, such as gender studies, devoted to analyzing the dominance of males and creating a foundation for female support was axed or sidelined. They forced some of the younger women to leave by firing their husbands. The spouses, buddies, and female gatekeepers of the top dogs were the last to go.

These women who had been handpicked for top dog jobs were assigned the dirty deed of verbally abusing and keeping other women in line. This kept the paws of the top dogs clean and often kept them from lawsuits for sexual harassment or discrimination. But finally even these loyal servants were pushed out of their jobs and off campus.

Questions kept popping up. Who was going to order the supplies, pay the bills, cook the food, clean the buildings, or stand in front of the check-out booth at the library? None of the males wanted to clean the tables in the union or plant the flowers outside of the top dog buildings. All of the males in the English department had to teach four composition courses that were usually assigned to lesser females. They males were actually grading grammar and sentence structure in papers!

The top top dog, a very short rotund man, had to step in and create order. He began by designating males to certain types of work. His decisions were based upon color of hair and height. The shortest males were assigned to the assistant top dog positions. The more burley types were assigned to making coffee, fixing the copy machines, and sorting the mail. The taller and broad shouldered males were assigned to secretarial and support-type positions. It never occurred to the top top dog that he was discriminating against the tall, dark, and handsome males.

These good-looking, body-building males didn’t like being marginalized and targeted because of their hair or stature. They complained that they were pressured into sexual relationships. Their jobs were threatened if they did not comply with the advances. They were experiencing a loss of self-esteem. They were more intelligent and had greater skills than the top top dog but they were assigned to “dehumanizing” work just to keep them under control. They began to weep at odd moments for no reason.

And they began to understand–that all of the positions that were assigned to the majority of females and termed menial–were the “glue” that kept the university functioning. Yet as important as the jobs were, the males did not want them.

So the campus became more and more dysfunctional. All the female students left. Classes were not meeting and the staff rarely showed up for work or stayed an entire day. Bottles of distilled spirits were found in waste bins all over campus. Male students began applying for entrance into other schools. Enrollment was so low that it looked like many of the dogs might lose their jobs.

Some of the disgruntled handsome males began secretly meeting in the old women’s restrooms. They hatched a plan that they thought would make everybody happy and restore order to campus. They wrote a “Declaration of Crimes against Tall, Dark, and Handsome Males.” Together, more than 200 professors and staff appealed to the top top dog to BRING BACK THE FEMALES. It would make their lives so much better. Women could take the brunt of bullying and marginalization and serve as scapegoats for the rest of the administration.

They could do all of the jobs that the top dogs did not want to do. It would free up the males from the drudgery so that they would resume playing golf, music, and planning. Since the women had been forced out most of the males had been lethargic. They never realized that brainstorming and making plans on how to control the females had kept the place together.

To date, the handsome males are still waiting for an audience with the top top dog. In the meantime, they are meeting with attorneys with plans to sue the top top dog for sexual harassment and discrimination.


As always, this piece is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge




Posted in Cause of Violence, Disillusionment in Higher Education, Feminism, Feminists in the Classroom, Higher Education, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Killing a Professor, Misogynism, Misogynism in Higher Education, Religious Beliefs destroy females careers, Religious hatred, Strategies to derail females, Stress and Professors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cry for the People of St. Croix

St. Croix. The best place in the world to live!

dscf2814Remains of conquerors, their religions, and big business are on the right and left as you crisscross the 28 mile island. It appears that the very small roads were built between sugar plantations. Columbus came to the Salt River but was beaten back by the indigenous tribes. He claimed the land for Spain. As one volunteer for the National Park told us, “He didn’t discover the land. The indigenous had been here for more than a thousand years.” Ultimately the indigenous peoples were exterminated, as is the case in many South American countries and Caribbean islands.

e530786e8c5fe367f28093cd156a8393The Danes, the Spanish, the French, Great Britain and more claimed this land as their own. And the U.S.A. purchased it from the Denmark in 1917. There is a church on almost every turn of the road. All of them came to convert and socialize the locals into their way of thinking. The Danes brought Lutheranism. The Spanish brought Catholicism. The French allowed the Knights of Malta to rule for a few years. England brought Anglicanism and Methodism. The Church of God, Seventh Day Adventists, the Baptists, the Pentecostals, Islam and Judaism, all have a presence on this population of 50K.

The fort is right behind this sign!

The fort is right behind this sign!

Recently we were in Christiansted where more than 40,000 slaves were auctioned off in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Slaves revolted in 1848 against the Danes but that was only the first civil war. They kept revolting against inhumane treatment, even when they were paid. (There are only 50K residents on the island today.)

As you tour Christiansted and Fredriksted you weep. The dock and frontage roads at Frederiksted have been improved to greet the lonely cruise ship that visits the island every Monday. It would take billions and billions of dollars to restore these historic towns. The massive structures appear to have been built to last forever with over twelve inch wide walls.   They have withstood all the hurricanes.

Gorgeous boardwalk in Christiansted.

Gorgeous boardwalk in Christiansted.

All over the world towns like this have been designated “UNESCO World Heritage Sites.” This organization funnels money into the cities to repair and restore them. Cartagena, Ciudad Viejo in Panama, Angkor Watt, and hundreds of other places around the world. These towns need to be placed on this list also.

The people on the island are warm and inviting. At the Christmas boat parade that was attended by thousands, people were polite and quiet. How can this be? How can people be so forgiving? How does a people recover from successive despots that claim their land? How do they know WHAT is their heritage? How do they find their identity? Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, a Hawaiian who has passed on, captures the heartbreak of a people who has lost their land and identity, “Cry for the gods, cry for the people, cry for the land that was taken away….”


One of the sturdy buildings facing the dock in Fredriksted.

One of the sturdy buildings facing the dock in Fredriksted.

Many locals sport dreadlocks as a way of identifying with Rastafarianism from Jamaica. I don’t know if they moved from Jamaica or have just accepted the revolutionary religion. Today many are called Rasta and look like a Rastafarian but they do not always adhere to the beliefs and ethics of Rastafarianism. Dreadlocks are the St. Croix look.

It is so ugly and so big and so imposing!

It is so ugly and so big and so imposing!

Even today, Hovensa, (an economic conqueror) one of the largest oil refineries in the world is defunct since 2012. It takes up beautiful coastal space for miles. (So ugly!) When it left it was pumping more than $100 million into the economy through taxes. It employed 2200 people. Locals tell us that about 2000 houses on the island were abandoned because people lost their jobs. The island was devastated. Hovensa had been given cash subsidies from the government of the Virgin Islands and signed contracts to keep the refinery working until at least 2020. But they left.

At our hotel on St. Croix!!!

A view at  our hotel on St. Croix!!!

Every time we met a local, they invited us to move to St. Croix. Many tell us of the bargains in real estate and how this is the best place in the world to live. And we are going back in November of 2017. We loved the island!


As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge






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Remembering my Father “Les” Selvidge! 1912-1971

Well dressed all of the time!

Well dressed all of the time!

Factory Work is Honest and Good Work!

The picture above is of my father and three relatives at an Xmas party, probably in the 1960’s. He worked for Bower Roller Bearings as an inspector. Every morning he dressed for work and he looked like he was going to an office job, not a factory job. He was very proud of the work he did. Notice in the photo that my dad is playing cards. He is wearing a tie, white long-sleeved shirt, and a suit. The rest of my relatives are wearing casual clothing.

(The following is taken from my book, Life Everlasting and the Twelve Mile Blues.)

This book took 20 years to research and write!!!

This book took 20 years to research and write!!!

“Daddy was single, although he didn’t like the idea. Marriage suited him, but he hadn’t much luck with the other women he had married. One died in childbirth (my half-sister), and the other he caught making love with another man in his own bed. And we don’t know what happened to the others. When Daddy loved, it was complete. And so when he gave all of his money to a wife, including a mink coat, he thought love would last forever. He was willing to wear sole-less-newspaper-lined shoes just to make her happy. Yet nothing he could give or do could make her love him as much as he loved her.

The Selvidge walk!

The Selvidge walk!

Daddy was of medium height, slightly on the thin side, with glossy black hair that shined until his death. Dark skin hinted at his Cherokee ancestry. Always impeccably dressed, even on the floors of Bower Roller Bearings, he used to boast about his weight that always stayed between 155-160. As a child, my father loved learning, thinking about the world, and reading, but was forced to quit elementary school in the sixth grade and work on the farm.

Dad taught me how to make a garden and to survive on nothing!

Dad taught me how to make a garden and to survive on nothing!




One day when he was plowing a field, the mules jerked his arm and broke it. His family wrapped it up without taking him to a physician to get the bones set. That disfigured and scarred arm was frozen at a right angle for the rest of his life. When World War II was raging, he could not enlist because of his arm. He felt humiliated by this childhood defect all of his life, and almost always wore long-sleeved shirts. He smoked and always held the cigarette or cigar in his left hand so that no one would notice.”

My father died when I was only 22 but I will always be thankful for the hammer and paint brush he put in my hands. He taught me how to mow the grass and hoe a row of anything.

On hot days we would sit on the picnic table in the back yard. Most of the time we argued about politics and world events. He smoked and drank Carling’s Black Label or Pabst Blue Ribbon. One day I said I wanted to smoke. He said, “Here, I will give you a cigarette and you can smoke it.” So he stuck a Camel cig in my mouth and lit it. I choked. The paper and leaves stuck to my mouth and lips, and then I threw up. I never ever thought of smoking again. It was the same thing with alcohol. I could have had as much as I wanted, but I never wanted. It was always available.

One more story is interesting and frightening at the same time. My dad was also a detective for Selvidge Secret Service in Detroit. (His cousin owned it.) I searched for the name on Google but it must be gone now. During vacations we would visit relatives in Kentucky and Tennessee. One day a car followed us and kept shooting at us. I guess my father had discovered something they did not like. It was not long after that he quit his moonlighting job as a detective.

I am so thankful for the open, progressive, and critical side of my dad. While we did not agree on much of anything, he opened my mind and trained it so well that I was able to win a Ph.D. from the Jesuits. I think the Ph.D. belongs to him. He would have certainly gone on to college if he had had the opportunity or the cash. Just before he died, he said,

“Go on with your education, no one can take that away from you.”

Here is one more pic of him!

I used to think he was old in this picture but now I am 20 years older than he was and he looks young!

I used to think he looked old in this picture but now I am 20 years older than he was and he looks young!

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Folk Alliance International. The Kansas City Folkfest was the BEST!

Angels of Music Descend Upon Kansas City

Folkfest Poster

Folkfest Poster

We are adults.  Who da’ thought that we would love Music Camp.  Isn’t that for kids?  Tom and I had never been to a music festival.  Someone said that there were 1600 musicians at the event.  They were playing their instruments in the hallways, restrooms, next to the waste baskets, and in their rooms.  Everyone was carrying at least one instrument.

Probably the highlight for both of us was the Gospel Session with Ken Whitely and Friends.  Our own Millie Edwards (one of the Wild Women) was up on stage with The Sojourners and Linda McRae from Canada,  The Birds of Chicago, and more.

Millie Edwards

Millie Edwards

Millie gripped the audience with her solos.  The singing was heart challenging and left you in tears.  Grammy Winners eat your heart out!  These singers and their backup were the best that we have ever heard.  How lucky we are that they came to town!

Gospel Session

Gospel Session

Blind Boy Paxton

Blind Boy Paxton

Blind Boy Paxton

Blind Boy Paxton

On Music Camp day, Tom went to guitar workshops, and I chose to attend Blind Boy Paxton’s “Blues and Ragtime Piano Styles.”

Radoslav Lorkovic

Radoslav Lorkovic

He challenged me to play twelfths and led us back 100 years, it seemed, to people like Willie the Lyon Smith, Luckey Roberts, Fats Waller and James P. Johnson. He was much older than his 26 years. “Practice what you love.” “Get the harmony before you get the melody.” “Play the piece very, very slowly. Fast will come soon.” He was a gentle and engaging person and hugged me before he left.

Later we listened to his concert broadcasted live on KKFI, the sort of radio free USA of Kansas City. It was stunning!



“Composition through Improvisation” sounded daunting to me, but I enrolled anyway.  Radoslav Lorkovic, a Croation born classical pianist, asked me to sit at the piano with him.  He helped me play a Jazz scale and with my left hand, a bass beat.  He demonstrated many different ways to improvise on the piano.  “Knowing the chords helps, but you can get by with a lot of strategies.”  One of the most interesting things he said was, “When classical pianists are hired, I have to deconstruct their education so that they can play for American audiences.”  It was a stellar experience.

The Sojourners

The Sojourners


Tom and I both attended a session by the Sojourners, “The Roots of Freedom Songs.”  They explained that slaves who escaped before the Civil War traveled all the way to Canada, where they were welcomed.  Most of the time was spent teaching us how to sing Freedom songs, “I shall not be moved.”


At the Artisan market, filled with friendly and knowledgeable people, Tom tried playing a guitar made from a cigar box.  Please note here that everyone was so helpful and encouraging when it came to playing an instrument.  It did not matter if you were a beginner of professional.

Tom playing the cigar box guitar.

Tom playing the cigar box guitar.


Cigar box guitar

Cigar box guitar






The mission of the Folk Alliance International is “to nurture, engage and empower the international folk music community-traditional and contemporary, amateur and professional-through education, advocacy and performance.”

I would say that “hit the nail on the head,” for us!





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Dr. Strangelove Is Back on My Mind!

Titan II Missile is a Wonder to Behold!

Titan II MuseumI will never forget the last scene of Dr. Strangelove (nor Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev’s declaration, “We will bury you.”)  We were watching the movie at a drive-in theatre in 1964.  The last scene shows a detonation of a nuclear bomb that destroys the world.  That plume is still in my mind.

Those of us who grew up during the “cold war” were always afraid.  My sister’s husband who lived in Florida even built a fall-out shelter under his house, equipped with food and canned water.

Titan II Museum Building

In Sahuarita, Arizona


I never understood, and still do not understood, the propensity that men have toward violence and the power it brings to them.  I remember arguing with an Economics professor on a cruise ship once who said, “Ultimately it has to do with money, economics.”  I have other theories.

Tom and I have attempted to visit missile sites in other states but were only allowed to look into a silo, for instance, in South Dakota.  In Sahuarita, Arizona near Tucson, we visited the last surviving Titan II missile housed in a museum.  Cost was about $10 per person and worth every penny.

Notice that you wouldn't know that you were looking at a missile site from the road.

Notice that you wouldn’t know that you were looking at a missile site from the road.

Our guide was a 73-year-old Civil Engineer, Bob, who worked on the site for most of his career.  There were only four military people who could launch the missile, but over 400 maintenance people  kept it running from 1963-1987.

“Can you walk down 50 something steps,” asked the volunteer, after we viewed a film about he missile.  About ten of us walked down what seemed like 10 flights of stairs to the central command station.  We learned about the guidance system, the key, the security, the advanced communication system they used long before cell phones.  It was a marvel.

One of the main corridors that leads to the silo that housed the Titan II Missile.

There were long hallways with tubes everywhere.  I kept thinking of some of the science fiction movies I have watched, including episodes dealing with the “Borg” in Star Trek.  Next Generation.  Steel walls were a foot thick and doors were tested in case there was a nuclear attack from another country or a mishap on site.

Inside the silo looking up at the missile.

The Titan II is about 103 feet long and could deliver a nuclear bomb to a target approximately 6300 miles away in about 30 minutes.  The devastation was complete.  It was retired because the military had developed better and more lethal missiles, The Minute Men.  Our guide said that one of these missiles could destroy everything in Los Angeles, nine times over, in a matter of seconds.

Command Center

Command Center about 100 feet away from the main silo.

Looking down at the missile from a glass dome on top of it.

The overall theme of this museum, lead by volunteers, is “Peace through Deterrence.”  None of the missiles were ever launched but they kept our enemies on their toes because they knew that within minutes of an attack that our missiles would be launched.

Unfortunately some people died during the building and maintenance of the Titan II missiles.  Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia that chronicles some of those accidents.

In August 1965, a fire and resultant loss of oxygen when a high-pressure hydraulic line was cut with an oxyacetylene torch in a missile silo (373-4) near Searcy, Arkansas killed 53 people, mostly civilian repairmen doing maintenance.

On August 24, 1978, one airman, SSgt Robert Thomas, was killed at a site outside Rock, Kansas when a missile in its silo leaked propellant. Another airman, A1C Erby Hepstall, later died from lung injuries sustained in the spill.

On September 19, 1980, a major mishap occurred after a socket from a socket wrench rolled off a platform and punctured the missile’s Stage I fuel tank, subsequently causing the missile to collapse. Due to the hypergolic propellants involved, the entire missile exploded a few hours later, killing an Air Force airman, SrA David Livingston, and destroying the silo (374-7, near Damascus, Arkansas). Thanks to the warhead’s built-in safety features, it did not detonate.

(See: )

A Bomb

A Bomb on display in the visitor’s center.

I understand the military philosophy of peace through deterrence but I kept thinking of all those millions and billions of dollars that could have been spent on education and our infrastructure.  So far, the military’s approach is working.  “We never intended to launch a single missile,” said our host.

If you ever visit Arizona, spend time at the museum and learn about the dedication of both civilians and the military hoping to protect us from harm.  Thank you to all of them.

Personal Note

My absence from writing has been due to five surgeries that I had during the last three months of the year.  I am on the mend so my mind (free from those awful drugs) is flying again.

RantingFor over a year I have ranted about the abysmal state of higher education, its abuse of faculty and students, and misuse of funds.  After leaving UCM I have discovered that there are many, many other faculty who work in even worse conditions than I did.  (How can this happen?) I want to shout rants for them too.

Those rants will soon be captured in a novel about higher education.  “Jihad” will be one of the important words in the title.  This blog will change its direction to a variety of  other subjects.

Shortly, I will be developing “Motoring with Marla” a new website that will chronicle our travels in our motorhome.  One of the sections of this website will be “Candid Camper” where I upload photos of unusual ways people camp. You would never believe how people camp.  Recently we saw a camper that had been created out of a one-horse carrier.  There were no windows in it, only a small door. (Wonder how the horse survived?)

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Violence as an Agent of Change

“When War Broke out in Heaven…”

Violence is Local

Terror and violence permeates our lives these days.  It is on the news, in games, in television shows and movies, on the streets and in our living rooms.  Every nine seconds a woman is physically abused or beaten by an intimate partner.  Seventy-two percent of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner. Ninety four percent of the victims are females. (NCADV)  There have been almost 300 mass killings in the United States this year.  (Washington Post) And violence is more than just murder, it undergirds poverty and hopelessness.

Origins of Violence

For many years I wrote about violence and its origins.  Why are human beings so violent?  Some religious groups would point to “original sin” or a genetic defect.  Others would point to the influence of family and the immediate culture.  Others would point to the reality of defense and protecting yourself.   Some would argue that violence is a way to bring about change.





We are all faced with the fear of ISIS.  Their targets are random.  Their aim is to conquer the world for their God, Allah.  On “Here and Now” on a PBS radio station I heard a young woman argue that ISIS has hijacked their peaceful religion.  ISIS is not Muslim.  If we look back to history, we could argue that her point of view is in error.

Islam began in violence.  Muhammad suffered so much abuse that he had to leave his beloved home in Makkah for Medina where he was protected by a Jewish community.  He led raids against his enemies and shed blood in the name of his God.  Some claim that there are over one hundred verses in the Quran where adherents are told to kill.  Here is an example of one:

Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing…
but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone.

From the eighth century through the middle ages, Islam conquered  most of the Mediterranean world all the way to Spain. The wars went on for hundreds of years.

Judeo-Christian Traditions

In the name of God Christian missionaries conquered most of North and South America.  They believed that God had given them the land, even though indigenous peoples had owned and lived on the land for thousands of years.  They believed that they were going to “save” the inhabitants but they left behind blood and death. In countries like Uruguay, the indigenous population was totally wiped out!

Christianity also has a history of conquering its foes through violence from the time of Constantine through the Inquisition or witch trials of the late Middle Ages.  The Judeo-Christian Bible is filled with violence and violent stories.  How could Jephthah kill his own daughter?  Why would anyone want to cut up a concubine and send her parts to all the tribes of Israel? Why is the sacrifice/murdering of a beloved son at the heart of the gospels?

I have written many articles on the violent language found in the gospels of the New Testament.  In my research, I determined that Acts of the Apostles was a violent etiological legend that set the stage for violence as an agent of change.  Everywhere Paul went there was violence.  The founding of Christianity was filled with violence.

Revelation is among the most violent of books in the New Testament.

“The beast and the ten horns you saw
will hate the prositute. They will bring
her to ruin and leave her naked; they
will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

And, of course, according to the Book of Revelation, the earth will be destroyed to make way for a new heaven and earth.  And, of course, war broke out in heaven!

Islam and Christianity

This is a quick view of both of these religious traditions.  They both have peaceful people and peaceful texts in their documents.  But, within those traditions are peoples who believe that their TRUTH, their Divine (whether Allah or  Yahweh, Jesus (God))  is the only TRUTH and only way.  They believe that our current way of life must be destroyed in order to bring about a change that would be better for everyone,  and especially for them.

I always wonder about people who advocate violence as a way to change things for the better?  Were they beaten as a child?  Did they experience rape or violence in their homes? Were they homeless?  Were they tortured and kept in a closet for most of their lives? Did their parents kill one of their siblings or mother or father? Were they always told that their lives were worth nothing?  Were they so poor that they could not go to school or find a good meal every day?

A Thought

Religion can give direction, meaning, and hope to people.  And many of those people who are killing and killing themselves are dedicated to their religious beliefs, but they are caught up in a “ghost dance” and an illusion.  That illusion has been embraced by millions throughout history, even in our own Salem.

Since our culture is so permeated with violence, have we become a breeding ground for ….

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Cause of Violence, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Killing a Professor, Terrorists and their Religions, Uncategorized, Violence and Religion | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Undergraduate Despair and Hopelessness

Cartoon Captures a Snapshot about the Failings of Higher Education

Chan Lowe created a portrait of Higher Education in the United States “The American Undergrad’s Prayer.”  (I am repeating the prayer here, just in case they pull the cartoon from this blog)

“O, Lord!  Please protect me from campus killing rampages so that I amy earn my worthless degree and drown in student debt forever and ever, AMEN.”
Cartoon by Chan Lowe published in the KC Star on 11/8/15

Cartoon by Chan Lowe published in the KC Star on 11/8/15

This creative soul has captured the tragic feelings of many lost undergraduates in our country.

Lowe Has a Narrow View of Higher Education

As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, I grew up just outside of the now war-torn Detroit, Michigan when the “Big Three” automakers were responsible for the economic growth and well-being of millions of people.  Almost everyone I knew worked for one of the Three or a factory that supplied parts and more to the Three.  One of my cousins designed automobiles, an uncle worked on designing and testing tires, and an uncle-friend built plants for GM.

I knew that General Motors had an institute where I could learn to be an engineer.  But I wanted more out of life than to work on a factory floor like my mother and father and many aunts and uncles.  I had been around the making of cars my whole life, but I wanted to see life outside of an engine magazine and a transmission on the floor of a garage.

I was privileged to come from a family of working poor and knew that I could survive on very little.  I did not go to college to study something that would guarantee a job.  I knew I could find a job to support myself at any plant around the corner.

And here is where I think Lowe makes a huge mistake.  Money is not everything in life.  There are a lot of other values that propel people to attend college.

I wanted a challenge and began studying languages with different scripts.  I wanted to travel.  I wanted to write.  I wanted to understand world politics and social issues. I wanted to help others to understand each other and the peoples on the planet.  I wanted to be involved in life in a different way.  And, even after retiring, I am studying music.  It is adding a wonderful dimension to my life.

Worthless Degree.  Life is more than a Job

No degree is worthless.  If you have studied well, you have learned how to read and write and communicate with the rest of the world.  These are basic skills that undergrads lack. Many of my students could not spell, write a good sentence, reason critically, and were extremely lazy and undisciplined.  They could not understand what was being offered to them, so they threw the time in college away.

I often worked three jobs in order to pay for my college.  Rarely could anyone borrow  money to go to college back in the 1960’s.  So you either had to get a grand scholarship, come from a well-to-do family, or work your way through school.  College students should be required to work when they attend college.  It would help them with time-management and, perhaps, with their negative view of the future.

Most everyone I knew thought that my degree was worthless.  I have a PhD in Hebrew and Greek.  But, I had a tremendous career with many different job opportunities, traveled the world, and created many, many books, lectured on cruise ships, gave academic papers at national conferences, and more.  You learn to turn your degree into many interesting pursuits.  How do you know that the skill you are learning is going to be relevant when you graduate.  Liberal Arts skills are always relevant and will help you to re-create your future.

If you want to go to college just to get a “job” then don’t go to college.  Find a nice program somewhere that gives you the skills you need to get into the job market.

I finished a Certificate in Web Design and learned how to create Websites recently. It only took a couple of semesters, not four years, and I could be hired as a designer today at a good salary.  Study one programming language that is in vogue, and you will be given offers by several companies.  But you will have missed what I think is the the heart of education, which is the Liberal Arts that connects with history, people, poetry, great literature, art, music, theatre, religious studies, and more.

Violence on Campus

At my previous university only one student and one professor were murdered during my tenure.  This does not compare with what has happened on other campuses, but both of those killings should have never happened.

I stopped teaching in the classroom about 8-10 years before I retired and developed classes online.  They protected me from abusive, manipulative, and violent students.  It did not stop them from emailing and calling me a “motherfu…”

I had one student place a gun on my desk demanding a better grade.  I had five Middle Eastern students attempt to bribe me for a better grade.  Several offered me free sex.  One student stood outside my office swearing and walking back and forth threatening me.  Another female clenched her fist in my face after she received a grade she did not like.  There is so much more that I could list here.

And students are allowed to act out such behavior because university bureaucrats don’t want to lose one student.  That would hurt their student-credit-hours and cash that they would lose to fund their own private parties and trips.  Students know they are “used” and they resent every minute of it.

Students are Lost

Students don’t know what they want today.  They can’t see their own future and this is the despair that is reflected in the cartoon.  They are so wrapped up in their phones, their games, their sport’s teams and parties,  that they don’t have time to think about the importance of those wonderful classes in which they are enrolled.

And the top officials of universities are in the same bucket.  They are wrapped up in their own careers, and salaries, and influence,  to the detriment of our students.

 They are also lost,  and so they lead the students into a bitter darkness reflected in this cartoon.


Personal Note:

I may write another blog on this cartoon that addresses even more of the cancer that I have experienced on campuses.

My apologies for being away from the desk since August.  I have had five surgeries and been floating around Colorado for three weeks.  Several people have asked me to begin writing again. This was a good day, because it is my last surgery, and there was time.

Talk to you soon.  As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

Posted in Disillusionment in Higher Education, Education not War, Higher Education, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Killing a Professor, Misogynism, Misogynism in Higher Education, Stress and Professors, Students at risk, Terrorists on Campus, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

New Book “Politics of Feminisms” is Now Published

Politics of Feminisms

Is There More than ONE Feminism? 

I am happy to share the good news with you that I have published a new book, Politics of Feminisms.  For most of my career I published in many fields of feminist interpretation.  Some of those articles were lingering on my desk for years.  Time slips away.  This book represents two years of research on feminist biblical interpretation, misogyny in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Secrets of Women, and feminist politics in a modern classroom.

Below are a couple of excerpts.  I wanted to entitle this book, “Misogyny for a Hundred Thousand Years,” but I thought that would be stretching it a bit.

Long ago, in the mid-twentieth century, when I was only seventeen, I began to study the Hebrew/Old Testament and New Testament while in college. I had this unshakeable faith that a Divine Being would never create inequality among human beings. There were passages in the Bible that confirmed my belief. People were created equal in Genesis one, and stood side by side in the formative years of the early church. Surely, after reading the Genesis passage and many stories in the New Testament, people would agree that females and males should be treated equally in society.

            I was naive. Having been raised in a family with a strong mother who stood beside her husband as an equal, I could not even fathom that females should be treated differently just because their biology differed with males. I soon learned that females and males were treated differently in society.

A second excerpt:

The Bible is a historic collection of thoughts that has shaped countries and peoples for millennia. Communities have centered their faith activities in the Bible, brought unlikely people together, and serviced many needy people in spite of its misogyny, advocacy of male supremacy, and war-like tendencies. Communities like this provide havens and extended families for people. For some, to give up the study and research of the Bible may result in losing those friends or a haven. The flight of some Protestants away from feminist biblical traditions is understandable because they believe it essentially erodes their belief-system about order in society and community life. They cannot risk the loss even if it means redeeming oppressed females and others who constitute more than half of their congregations.

            Feminists also desire control of the interpretation of the text to disseminate their truth, because it often legitimates an alternate power structure and serves to control myth. And, yes, they want more power in their lives and more control over the people who oppress, marginalize, and exploit them. But perhaps they could also open their research and hearts to others who also suffer in much the same way.


A third excerpt:

While we may be publishing new ideas about how we should interpret the Bible differently, or discovering people in the past who have shared the same dream, or how culture should change, or how political power should be shared, on a very basic level the average person does not understand shared power, and many have an unimpeachable belief in male supremacy that systematically excludes those who would challenge it.

            Significant positive change may have come to some religious communities for women, but not to society as a whole in my view. Naomi Goldenberg threatened that feminism would be the end of traditional religions when the male God would be eliminated in her book The Changing of the Gods in 1979. “God is going to change…. We women are going to bring and end to God…. We will change the world so much that He won’t fit in anymore.”x[i]x Naomi Goldenberg’s prophecies failed to materialize. Little has changed.   Perhaps her prophecies will come true … someday.

xlx Naomi Goldenberg, The Changing of the Gods. Feminism  and the End of Traditional Religions Boston: Beacon   Press, 1979 p. 3.











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Apple Stores are a Lunatic Experience!

Apple is in the Tank!

I have been an avid user and fan of Macs since around 1983. Even when my university attempted to bribe me with a new PC, I did not falter, I kept my MAC.  And I have always appreciated the support and quality of machines that I have purchased.

The Problem

Recently Apple emailed with a recall of a Western Digital hard drive. Dutifully and trustingly, I brought my iMAC to the Apple Store in Leawood, Missouri. The hard drive was replaced in about two days. I was happy with the time frame. But I was not happy with the result. The iMAC would not start. I tried everything I knew to get the thing going. Called an Apple Genius? and he could not get it up and running.

When I returned to the store, the Apple Geniuses were flabbergasted. This does not happen. They did not believe me. They did not apologize. But after several attempts at jump-starting the machine. They decided that it needed to be fixed. My patience was gone!

I asked for a new iMAC since they trashed my old one. In unison they sang. “That could be considered.” But no one would make the decision. I think they were reading the lines from their iPads. A few days later, I brought the machine home. Oral tradition has it that a cable and the screen were broken. Huh? Did someone drop it? I asked for a new machine again and no one would respond. Applecare should have covered it, I think they wanted me to suffer a bit more before they gave me a new machine. When I arrived home my Magic Mouse would not work with the machine. What next?

I told them that crashing my computer was like someone taking your car and crashing it. You wouldn’t want the old car back, you would want a replacement. The Apple ears did not hear me.

The Environment

Have you been to an Apple Store lately. There are hoards of worker drones in jeans and dark blue t-shirts that look like they need some advice on grooming. Most of them kept their heads buried in their iPads and never looked at you. I think they take a pic of you when you enter the store, and your pic shows up next to your appointment time? Huh? All I got from these drones was, “Sit here?” or “Wait here!” I said that I was perfectly happy where I was but I was told that I was in the way.

(On the plus side, as soon as I entered the store someone talked to me, even though the place looked like it was in total chaos.) It is difficult to hear above the roar of the people clicking, swiping, and complaining. My iMAC is pretty big and they told me to look around the store, but then said that I should keep my hands on the computer because I could lose it.

Fun Stuff

There were as many as fifteen people in a line at once asking for help.  Some problems were handled immediately, like a phone that was in pieces, and other people, like me were sidelined for more than a half hour. I saw a two year old playing and talking on an iPhone.  A six year old had dropped his iPhone and it was no longer linked to his new Apple watch. How much did that watch cost? People lost their passwords or locked up their machines or could not use the software. I was watching someone trying to teach a class on how to create a video. He was shouting and no one could hear him.

What a lunatic experience!

Apple is no longer on my “A” List

I wish there was a better machine (I have four of them) for me, I would buy it and leave Apple in the dust. But the truth is that I have thirty years of data on disks and drives that are only formatted for the MAC. To change all of this to a new format would be an impossible task.

So I am stuck with the drones.

Wouldn’t it be great if the drones wore ironed polo shirts, and they actually looked at you. Buy better shirts for your employees, will ya? They look like they found those shirts in a second-hand shop! Burn them!

And maybe, if they didn’t pay some of their executives $89 million a year, they could do more for their customers.


As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge



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Public Universities Need to be Investigated!

Obama Administration Caves into the Cries of Bureaucrats

“The U.S. Department of Education has retreated from its controversial plan to create a giant college-ratings system, top officials revealed on Wednesday. Instead, by late summer the department is now promising to produce a customizable, consumer-oriented website that won’t include any evaluations of colleges but will contain what one official described as “more data than ever before.” In effect, it will be a ratings system without any ratings.” (Chronicle of Higher Education)

The problem with public Higher Education today has little to do with affordability and more to do with greedy, power hungry, and misdirected bureaucrats. When did the ‘business model’ become the foundation of managing educational institutions?

At the last place where I taught, greedy professors and bureaucrats in fields of business, demanded and got higher salaries and perks than the rest of the university programs and professors. Did they publish more? Were they creative and innovative in their classes? Did they teach better? Did they counsel students better? Were they involved in the community? Of course, they were not and did not. Their argument was based upon market, and they argued that market should control their salaries. Too bad that the rest of us were left out of their selfish scheme!

I don’t know how to solve the problem of greed and selfishness at the top and through the bureaucratic ranks of public universities. The accepted standard or ethic is to exploit those around you.   At my former institution, the number of bureaucrats multiplied exponentially while the number of faculty went down.

Bureaucrats Use Hyper-and False-Advertising to Fund their War Chests 

The bureaucrats still  kept claiming that there was a 15 to 1 ratio in the classes at my former university.  All of our classes were open for 25 or more students and I taught classes of 125 for years.  Yes, there were smaller classes, but those were usually 4000 level classes that majors were required to take.  They also kept claiming that 90% of students obtained jobs almost immediately upon graduation.  What a lie this was!  I worked my way through college and so did many of our college students.  Most students have some type of job while going to college.  The bureaucrats led people to believe that their degrees were so sought after that students were hired immediately. I asked the bureaucrats if the jobs the students obtained were the ones they had while a student.  They stopped using this strategy for a while, and then came back to it.

Telling parents that their child will be assured a job is a bold-faced lie and also telling them that your professors will know your first name, is also untrue.  When you have 100-200 students to teach a semester, it is impossible to know each student by their first name.  You could wish that you could know each student, but it is an impossible task.

Bureaucrats use models on their websites to portray an attractive and beautiful student population.  What is the matter with using “real” photographs of “real” students?  They photoshop crowds together and create an illusion of happy, hard-working, and hard-playing students.  Where is the real campus? Isn’t this dishonest?

Bureaucrats Rarely Support Programs that Require Critical Thinking Skills

Their goal is to attract as many students to campus as possible, so that they can grab the cash that comes from the student-credit-hours produced by those students.  They scheme up unnecessary universal testing because the state rewards the university $100 per student for each test that is taken.  They are reductionistic and hope to combine programs so that the university has a more stream-lined appeal.  Why not reduce all of the majors to about ten?  That is much more marketable!!  In fact, they support programs that seem to lead to one type of “job” more than they support those departments that help students to understand the humanities and complexities of life.  Their goal is to get them in and get them out! They really don’t want them to learn to think, evaluate, read, write, and speak well in public!

Bureaucrats Exploit Everyone to Fulfill their Own Career Goals

When will the revenue that is raised through student-credit-hours come back to the faculty and departments that produce them?  This does not happen.  Like workhorses or mules, faculty become the means whereby bureaucrats achieve their own personal goals.  Those goals might be building projects, increasing athletics, building a new home for themselves, hiring their friends or relatives, the use of a jet, cooperative agreements with governments that enhance their personal power, and so much more.  The funds do not come back to departments for faculty raises or support of curricula.  Most faculty back-peddle hoping for a break, but that break never comes.

President Obama, Something Has to be Done!

The Bureaucrats are many and have loud voices.  They are powerful.  They know about power because it is at the center of their careers and goals.  They won’t let anyone take away that power.  Faculty could do it.  Faculty could step forward and challenge the bureaucrats.  As in any civil war, there would be casualties.  But Faculty do not want to risk their tenure or what little of their own status that they have obtained.  Faculty know that bureaucrats are destroying (have destroyed) higher education and they will do nothing about it.  It is time for an outside agency to investigate and punish greedy bureaucrats.

But who has enough power to do it?  Where are you Edward Snowden?


As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Destroying or eliminating General Education classes is barbaric. The Visigoths are at the door!

General Education Classes are at the Heart of Higher Education

“The first act of the Islamic State was to kill the people with knowledge of Religion.” Zaid AlFares

For more than two decades at my last job at a state university, I had to fight tooth and nail to preserve the Religious Studies programs. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, politics on campus can be quite complicated and visceral. Our greatest opponents were professors and administrators in fields other than normally found in General Studies programs.  They argued that our university did not need General Education. Other universities have walked down this path, where they have attempted to become majors only institutions. From my point of view, destroying or eliminating General Education classes is barbaric.

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking helps to foster success in a person’s life!

I met a student who lives in Columbia the other night. He argued that General Education classes were a waste of time. Students should not be required to take classes they don’t like or don’t want to study. Universities should eliminate those worthless classes.  This point of view is both reductionistic and destructive.  The consequences of eliminating General Education classes would undermine our colleges and our country as a whole. And my reply to this student is that he should seek out a technical or for-profit school that does not include the classes he does not like in his program.

If you are a privileged human being who has grown up with lots of cash, traveled the world, and been tutored all of your life by high-end educators, then perhaps some of the General Education classes would seem to be a bit stifling. But many students in the state of Missouri, and especially at the institution where I taught, were first generation college students.

General Studies

General Studies enhances critical thinking skills and awareness of the world in which we live!

All students need to survey topics that they have never even considered studying in their lives. Those classes can open doors to possible careers and avocations. They lay a foundation that helps link students to all sorts of other people and careers. They can give “meaning” to a person’s life. You begin to understand the world around you, and interact with it in a more intelligent way after studying in a General Studies class.  What would life be like if we did not study history, art, theatre, literature, creative writing, sociology, psychology, communication, women’s studies, languages, music, and even religious studies? We would all become automatons or mechanical people without hearts or brains. And isn’t that the point, and the goal, of those who would eliminate General Studies?


Music Adds to Our Lives

At the moment I am enrolled in a Music Appreciation class.  (Yes, I am retired.) It is true that I do not like all of the music we have studied, but on the other hand, I have discovered other music I love.  In Zumba classes I now can hear melodies in the Zumba tunes that were written hundreds of years ago.  The class has made me very aware of all of the music around me, and I can read and understand the newspapers and advertisements about music about which I knew nothing. This is all thanks to a General Education class.

Most humanities courses help students to learn how to be critical thinkers. They help students to learn how to express themselves clearly and to speak with passion and care. Many of the professors who did not teach General Education courses at my university, complained that they should not be held accountable for their student’s lack of good writing or critical-thinking skills. As long as they knew content in the discipline of a class, the other skills were not needed. This argument harms students.  They are not teaching in the best interests of students.  Their point of view is skewed and narrow.

Students may even need General Studies classes to determine what types of professors they want in their major area. I remember one of my students who had taken Greek from me, asking a question in one of her major classes, where the professor was misusing, misunderstanding, and mispronouncing Greek words. She questioned him and he did not like it.  And there were many other religious studies students who went on to challenge professors on campus who did not engage in critical thinking.

When you want to obtain control over a people, you eliminate the thinkers who have the knowledge to speak out, to be critical, to help others. We have seen this time and time again in Communist Countries, even yesterday with the murder of a high profile official in Russia. In Cambodia and Vietnam, thousands if not millions, of educated people were murdered because they had the knowledge.

Greek Symbol

This is a Greek symbol employed to protect Christians.

Knowledge is precious and can be life-saving. Education is more than getting a ticket to find a good job. Life is more than a paycheck.  Without General Education classes, and especially without religious studies classes, people cannot well assess their lives, their futures, their employers, and their own religious traditions. I can’t tell you how many times military people have come to me, and told me that they wished with all of their hearts that they had taken a World Religions class with me before they were deployed. Their lives would have been so much richer. They could have taken advantage of the opportunities that were presented to them in foreign ports of call. They would have understood the cultures and experiences better.

Shame on the student who carelessly complains about General Education classes. His mindset is similar to ISIS. Destroy the educated, so we can rule!

(The symbol refers to Yeisous (Jesus), Christos (the Christ), Theos (God), Huios (Son), and Soter or Soteria (Savior or Salvation). (The transliteration is mine.)  It was a code that allowed Christians to enter meetings during times of harassment by the government.  It saved their lives!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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