College Professors Reveal Behind-The-Scenes Campus Drama Kept From Students
Being a teacher is like being the mayor of a small village. You're in charge of a community of sorts, with its own customs and laws, and are forced to do whatever you can for the betterment of your citizens/students. Sometimes, that means you need to keep secrets for the easement of their minds, otherwise the entire structure could fall apart.
Reddit user, u/design-responsibly, wanted professors to crack open those gossip books and share:
Professors and university employees of Reddit, what behind-the-scenes campus drama went on that students never knew about?
Wow. Who Knew Chemists Were This Crazy?Giphy
Two professors arrested for meth production, one for murdering his wife with lab supplies, another stepped down quietly for embezzlement.
And that's how we replaced half our chemistry department in a year.
Launder The Money Wrong Ways
A professor was hired to start a research center/institute, got paid a lot of money and came in with tenure. He was f-cking weird to begin with, but as time went on it became apparent that he wasted all the funds intended for starting the center - nothing was happening but the accounts were diminishing. The whistleblower hotline was provided with a bunch of data that strongly suggested he was funneling a lot of that money to a company owned in part by his brother, in addition to a lot of blatant and casual misuse of funds (buying personal and convenience stuff for himself and staff).
Things started heating up and they called him in for a hearing about it. The very next day we found an indignant letter announcing his resignation and accusing the entire department and college of unethical behavior slipped under the door. He skipped out in the middle of the night leaving a big pile of deliberately damaged equipment in his office.
The university didn't pursue him. I believe it was because they were in the middle of a scandal involving faculty* and students in another department and just didn't want to hear about it.
Students were completely unaware.
Can't Make It To The Meeting Today
In the English department, one of the professors got arrested for domestic violence, divorced his wife, then got another english professor pregnant and eventually married her.
And they all saw each other at department meetings. Super awkward.
Edit to clarify: The husband and original wife were both professors. He had an affair with another English professor. Wife found out and there was a major fight, cops were called, he was arrested for DV but I believe the charges were dropped. He filed for divorce, moved in with the other professor, got her pregnant, and he and the ex were still fighting over child support and alimony when I left. I was the pregnant professor's TA, but I was definitely Team Original Wife.
Doing Everything Wrong
I went on a trip to Vegas as part of a big IT internship that my school got to participate in. All my professors and students got drunk off their asses and no one knows except for all who went. This wouldn't be bad until you found out we went to a private religious university. Also, we broke a lot of guideline rules like don't go to strip clubs, don't drink, don't do anything considered not Christian on the trip...we got wasted with our professors and I made out with some random dude while wearing my schools advertising shirt. Best. Time. Ever.
Note: I also forgot that people were literally hooking up while we were there too. Big suite parties have a lot of alcohol and don't ever really check for iD.
Wrong Kind of Garden
We had some students growing weed out of their dorm. Turns out they were student workers and the president of a big engineering club on campus. The other, was a student worker for the science department. Low key high key, they were expelled.
Also, the old old old president of the esports team cursed at our student president and stole money from the school, he also stalked a girl too. He was expelled. Esports still does not have good relations to this day with the student leadership committee.
What? Chemists Again?Giphy
My PI (professor) for grad school had his lab raided by the FBI. This happened long before I joined.
Apparently,one of his first or second class of grad students in the 80's/90's decided that they wanted to use lab resources to brew some meth. Very easy to do with the equipment we have. From what I am told, this student would stay late in lab after others had left, to get this done.
In Breaking Bad style, he fences his drugs to some distributor and thought that was the end of it. the purity of his drugs was enough that they were able to trace it back from the streets to him and the lab.
A sting operation shut down the lab, while the dust settled, and my professor was cleared of all wrong doing, since none of this was under his direct control, and all campus resources were being misused by the student.
State "Intelligence Bureau" told the professor that it was the largest and purest operation they had seen in the state at this time.
Anything To Survive The Day
We had to have a "booze locker" complete with cooler near the grad student lounge in my department because some underage undergrads kept stealing from our fridge and our department in trouble. We gave out the lock code on new graduate student orientation.
Money Passed Hands
At my university a staff member accepted money from students and changed their grades so they passed. Apparently was happening a lot
One day federal police arrived and confiscated all the computers and files from an office as part of their enquiry. One guy did time for it, a few people dont work there any more....
Cutthroat World Of Physics
I work in a Physics office. One of the professors has been working to get another one removed from faculty through sneaky means and even goes out of his way to make the minutes of our faculty meetings not reflect what he's doing, even asking me to not include a motion he made to have a vote of confidence towards out program director (I refused because no way am I removing a motion from minutes).
No Secrets Kept
Im a professor in a medium/large US university... we definitely all talk about the students. Who we like, but especially who is the most annoying. We warn other professors about certain students too.
And there are certain other professors that everyone hates. Chances are if the students hate them, we usually do too.
My husband works in IT at our university (student employment). A few days ago he got a call asking if anyone in the office had a lot of experience with this certain program. Turns out the person calling accidentally deleted 82 virtual machines containing close to 10 years of research and data. He worked for a small department and they didn't have any backups of the data. Not sure what happened since my husband transferred him to a data specialist.
Just An Awful String Of Events
I was a professorial assistant to the Italian department and one of my favorite professors did a showing of a very famous Italian film Swept Away on a weekend.
This was an outside of class activity, which no one was required to attend. At a college with college age students. Just a "we don't have time to watch this in class, so we'll watch it over the weekend in the auditorium."
The movie in question would be considered...controversial by American standards. But Italian film standards it is also controversial, but considered a pretty important film for anyone studying film. It deals with some pretty intense issues involving dynamics between men and women, wealthy and poor as well as, depending on your interpretation, an assault scene.
I was working in the department when we did this movie showing and so I got a front row view of it blowing up. Apparently some freshmen, who are 18 years old, attended the screening and complained to their parents, who complained to the school. The school decided the best option was to fire my professor.
The Italian department went to bat for him, reminding the school that adult students attended the screening voluntarily. The school knew they couldn't get away with firing him specifically for that, so at the end of the quarter they revoked his contract renewal (he was supposed to come back the next year) for "lifestyle choices that conflict with university standards."
Dumb move. I don't know who on the universities legal team wrote it that way, but they should be fired. The professor in question was Pakistani and openly gay, living with his husband. As far as I understand it, he took their a--es to court for discriminatory dismissal. They settled out of court for an unknown sum, but it was enough that my professor and his husband moved out to Italy where he now works at a university there and is very happy.
No one outside of the Italian department knew what happened. Professor was there one quarter and gone the next with no warning whatsoever.
Annnnnd Another List Of Problems...
Years ago at a university where I worked.
-A student worker was inventorying old storage closets and he found a large display case full of preserved animal specimens. It was the work of a long-retired and now deceased biology professor who had gathered an extensive collection decades ago and preserved them all in jars.
-The student was a chemistry major, and for some reason realized that the preservative used would turn into picric acid if you left it sitting there for half a century. Picric acid is in the same chemical family as TNT.
-The State Police bomb squad detonated the collection in a nearby field a week later, rattling windows for miles around. Few students ever found out this bomb had been sitting in the basement of their lecture hall for all those years.
...Maybe Just Stay Away From The Chemistry Department...Giphy
In our chemistry department a few years back, a grad student who was failing started poisoning another graduate student they worked with closely by putting carcinogens in their foods and drinks. Colourless, odorless, flavourless, thanks to his chemistry knowledge. He was eventually caught and I'm not sure what happened to him, thrown out for sure, perhaps arrested.
Another year a grad student pushed another student down a flight of steps to try to kill them.
Chemists are crazy
We are told that, if you're not confident, you should just "fake it til you make it."
This is great--in theory. In practice, sometimes "faking it" can have extremely real and terrible consequences, which these people found out the hardest of hard ways.