Dear Alma | Prof. Newby

Dear Alma — is it okay for a senior faculty member to call me into his office and talk to me about how bad a union would be for our department?

Signed, Prof. Newby

Dear Prof. Newby,

One of the great things about a university is that anybody can talk to anyone about anything. Of course, it’s poor taste to be intimidating about it, and not very effective in the long run.

I’m sure this wasn’t the first time that Professor Plum has called you into his office and pontificated about things he really doesn’t understand. Do what you always do when that happens. Silently mock his decorating style and plan your next shopping list. Say you’ll think about what he says, but don’t say for how long. Remember that there are Federal laws which protect you against retaliation for supporting a union.

Eventually, you will be a senior faculty member, here or some place better, making contributions to your field, while your inquisitor is laboriously crafting incisive letters to obscure publications. You will then be able to say hello to him at professional social events while your eyes are scanning the room for someone more interesting to talk to. That’s always fun.

— Alma