CAZENOVIA, N.Y. Curtis Bascomb is head of information technology at The Chronicle of Ethnic Studies, but he says he’ll be looking for a new job following a weekend when he was on call 24/7. “They don’t pay me enough to give a crap as it is,” he says as he coils wire around his arm like a rock group roadie. “If I have to give up my hobby of Spanish-American War re-enactment I’m outta here.”
The cause of the crisis that crashed the academic journal’s servers was an article by Dean Lisa Tilden of the State University of New York-Cazenovia attacking the work produced by candidates for advanced degrees in the nation’s Freedonian Studies departments, which ended with a facetious call for universities to divert scarce resources currently spent on such programs to Friday night keg parties. “We would be better off producing graduates who are unemployable because they are drunk, not drunk because they are unemployable,” she wrote.
Tilden quoted from a number of dissertations in the field to make her point, including “Who’s Your Nanny: An Examination of Goat-Human Eroticism in 19th Century Freedonian Vers Libre” by Dos Fledens-Gzodny, a Ph. D. candidate at SUNY-Cazenovia. “My work is as respectable as so much of what is written in other less untraditional departments like Women’s Studies and Sports Management,” he says, clearly agitated. “I spit on the grave of this so-called ‘dean’s’ mother, this is how bad I am thinking of her.”
Freedonia was formed after World War II from portions of Albania, Serbia and New Jersey, along with a boxcar of instant mashed potatoes that spoiled before it could be served to liberating U.S. troops. A Freedonian diaspora followed a brief but intense civil war between rival ethnic groups, the Large and Small Curds, which U.N. peacekeepers were unable to prevent due to bribes paid in zlotniks, the nation’s unwieldy currency whose coins are as large as manhole covers.
Tilden says she expects to be fired, but for now is on unpaid leave while the journal’s Board of Academic Advisors determines whether she violated the publication’s Standards of Civility. “It’s not like they were paying me before so I can’t complain too much,” she says. “On the other hand, every footnote in that post adhered strictly to the Chicago Manual of Style.”
Freedonians are sometimes referred to as America’s most neglected minority, always by members of the ethnic group itself. How, this reporter asks Fledens-Gzodny, can he be offended at verbal slights that are directed at him as a member of a fictional if vibrant culture.
“I hear your words,” he says defiantly. “What is your point?”