April/May 2005 (v7 i6)
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Reconsidering staff members
A 2-for-1 penis joke or an essential group of UT employees?
by Josh A. Bauermeister, University Employee

In spite of this article's subtitle, there is nothing funny about being a staff member at UT.

First of all, if you think that I, as a representative of all University staff members, merely sit in my cubicle working crosswords, paying bills on-line, downloading songs from iTunes Music Store, and wielding enormous power, then you would be right — except for the part about wielding enormous power. For us staff members, there is very little power to wield, enormous or otherwise. And while some people may think that this lack of power implies a lack of importance within the University community, such thinking is incorrect. In fact, our staff jobs require a great deal of wisdom and fortitude and are essential to UT's success.

I work as an editor in the Main Building, and I am perpetually bombarded with various crises that can only be resolved by someone with my level of expertise. For example, reports will sometimes pile up, and when I get tired of them cluttering my desk, I have to decide whether or not I should try to stuff them into my small recycling receptacle or walk down the hall to the bigger, more accommodating bin. On other days a coworker may come to my cubicle asking me to explain the PageMaker shortcut for an en-dash. Such questions usually force me to put down the spy novel I am reading. I even lost my place once. Then, there have been other times when I've spent entire mornings explaining to colleagues all the ways in which Garamond is the thinking man's Times New Roman. These burdens that we bear are not light, but our selfless drudgery is perpetually overlooked. To toil in a staff cubicle is to toil in an invisible world.

To many people, we staff members are nothing, with no place on the UT pecking order. Even if we were somehow able to elbow our way onto the pecking order, we would surely find ourselves far below donors, alums, administration, faculty, students, the guys manning the leaf blowers, the inhabitants of the turtle pond, and that really old photograph in the Ransom Center. But dreams of being included in this pecking order are Icarusian (or a more appropriate mythological reference that I can't recall just now) at best. So far, the closest we've come to being included are those times when we've had to edit and update the actual pecking order document that the administration refers to on occasion for help in remembering where the University's loyalties lie. So we staff members remain silent about our exclusion from the pecking order, and instead, spend our days doing some work, but mostly just listening to Leonard Cohen CDs and deconstructing last night's Gilmore Girls.

But change is at hand. We staff members have begun to grow tired of being ignored. We've grown tired of performing our essential job functions for over an hour a day on some days. Such work is sometimes moderately difficult, and it really cuts into the time we've allotted for adding movies to our Netflix queues and staring at the place in the wall where we'd love to put a window.

Change will not come easy, but if we are going to be appreciated for the work that we'd be doing if only we were more conscientious, then change must surely come. I am writing these words to herald in this new era. I will use my voice so that all of those staff members without voices (figuratively) can overcome their inferiority complexes and mount (literally) those people on the pecking order who crave nothing more than the perpetuation of the status quo.

Josh distracts himself from a
busy routine by turning his
head slightly to the left and
staring blankly at the wall.
Even though I was once silenced by complacency, I am now determined to speak out. I know our enemies for who they really are. I have seen the administration in the ground floor toilet of the Main Building, and I can tell you that they defecate without washing their hands afterwards just like the rest of us. I have joined RecSports and been inside the staff/faculty locker room, and I can tell you that if we staff members are basing any of our lack of self-worth on supposed average male faculty member penis size, then we have all been laboring under a flagrant misapprehension. Such news should be encouraging.

A workplace revolution is at hand. All we staff members need to do is to join together and refuse to be looked upon as untouchables. As one, we can rise above the blindness of the University and take our rightful place as equals alongside the administration, the faculty, and the other groups on the pecking order. Today we may have to scurry to hide the Jumble when we hear our supervisors approaching, but tomorrow, we will proudly work our little word puzzles in plain sight. We will ignore our true work and concentrate solely on various pastimes that do not matter in the great scheme. We will be open and honest about sitting idly by and doing very little of importance, while we gather in all of the riches that the University has to offer. And in so doing, we will supplant the group currently involved in these very activities from their position high atop the UT pecking order: the football team.
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