Somewhere in the Ministry of Magic or Death Star One, or wherever they Make The Decisions, someone is having a great laugh at our expense. According to the terms of the Croke Park Agreement, lecturers are required to meet with their students and that meeting slot must be a timetabled hour. Therefore I have a sign on my door, saying I am available at a particular hour. Before the glorious Croke Park Agreement came into effect, I was available to meet my students all the time, and still am now. But if I was the kind of student I was when I was a student (if you see my meaning) well then if I went to a lecturer’s door and saw a sign saying “Available Wednesday 5 – 6 pm!”, well I would understandably not want to disturb my lecturer from his sherry-drinking at other times.
To really tighten the screw, our friend Through the Looking Glass has thrown in a twist. It is of course impossible for the timetable to allow for an hour when all the students I teach will be free, never mind to replicate this miracle for all teaching staff and all students. Middle management are left holding the baby – they must ensure the Croke Park Agreement is implemented, even though it is an impossibility.
So I have an hour when I must see the students, even if the students can’t be there. This contrasts with the situation before—obviously unsatisfactory because they changed it—when I was available to students to come and see whenever they wanted. Thanks to our increasingly competitive work-practices, that ridiculous situation has now changed, and I am available for just one hour instead of all hours.
As an addendum, Bernie Ruane’s letter to the Irish Times last Saturday was incorrect. It forgot that the Croke Park Agreement added two extra hours onto all lecturers’ timetables, and an additional student meeting hour.