Monday, August 4, 2014

Such a Fun, Undone Story

Here's a little story I've never had much luck getting a UGA journalism student interested enough to do. There's this Provost policy. Best I can tell, it's still in place, though it dates back to 1994.
4.07-5 Faculty Authorized Texts

Textbooks authored by the course instructor may be ordered with the approval of the department head. Prior to approving such orders, the department head should be satisfied that the work is equivalent in quality to other texts available for that course. Textbooks should not be ordered from companies in which the course instructor or a family member owns a substantial interest.
Students often complain (quietly, among themselves) about spending a coupla hundred bucks on a textbook that -- coincidentally, I'm sure -- was written by the instructor. Look at the policy above. I'm betting if you ask a department head (without warning him or her) about such approval it's never been requested, never been given. Is there a record of such requests? A record of approvals? The guidelines don't say it needs to be written. I could be done in the hallway, but a department head "should be satisfied that the work is equivalent in quality to other texts" out there in the wide world. Which means you gotta at least skim the list of texts.

Now you'd want to not lazy your way out and just do Grady (hint hint, budding The Red & Black investigative journalists). But you'd definitely want to do Grady, because you don't want it to appear you're giving special treatment. You'd want to perhaps ask the bookstore to run the list of texts for Fall and try and match instructor with author. There's a data way to do this, I'm sure, other than just walking up and down the aisles of the bookstore and doing it by hand.

Sad thing is, coming up with good story ideas is not hard. All it takes is curiosity, and time away from checking your Facebook feed, to poke around the administrative underbelly of the university.

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