January 21, 2008

Forms forms forms

What's with all these forms they keep sending round? Health and safety forms, forms from HR about working from home (how safe a work environment is YOUR armchair?!), other administrative forms. Pages and pages of 'em!

If they meant something, fine, but they don't. For most of the academics they're sending the forms to, this is just ridiculous. What do the forms accomplish? Nothing for us academics! It just wastes hours of time filling them in - it's not just the form filling in, but also we're supposed to read the vast quantities of accompanying notes to explain the forms.

And to what purpose? Nothing! We are supposed to apply for the right to mark our exam scripts at home in a comfy chair rather than hunched over a desk in our tiny offices. If we want to work at home for a day, using our own personal computers, and get a lot more done because we don't have students banging on our door every other minute then we are supposed to apply for the privilege?

Maybe applying for homeworking makes more sense for certain categories of workers, but do these administrators actually consider that academics work at universities and academics typically have pretty flexible working patterns anyway? Sometimes we work in a library, sometimes in our offices, sometimes in a coffee shop, sometimes at home.

These forms are just a ridiculous waste of our time. Our time is very precious; we don't have nearly enough of it just to get the basics like lectures prepared and research done, and you send us stupid forms to fill out?

And just why are the forms needed, anyhow?

Could it be because the University wants not to be sued because if we sign the form then it's an implicit admission of OUR responsibility. Oh no it's not the university's job for us to have a safe work environment, it's OUR responsibility.

Or could it be that they want to avoid being sued because if someone turns around and sues them because they tripped over a daisy while walking over the grass to the library building and they HAVEN'T filled in the forms, well it's their fault for not filling in the forms and looking at the regulations of their responsibilities! Oh yes, it's their fault for not having filled in the form.

Or could it be that it's makework? The administrators are bored and need to do stuff to justify their position, so they make up forms and send them round to everyone.

Could it be that they are being pressed to do it because of their bosses pressing them, as a result of pressure applied top-down from government legislation?

Alternatively, could it be that these form-sending administrators are control freaks who like making the academics jump to it and toe their line?

Of course, we academics are going to ignore the forms. This course of action is not irresponsible, quite the opposite in fact. It is not in our interest to fill out these forms, nor is it in the university's interest, because we'd be spending hours filling out forms rather than do much more beneficial work for the university.

But from the administrators' point of view, we are naughty little academics who won't fill in their forms like they've been told to. And thus widens the gulf even more between administrators at the centre of the university and the academics on the outside. From their perspective, we are naughty academics for not filling in the paperwork, not doing as we are told, and not caring about health and safety issues of comfy armchairs! From our perspective, they are control freaks who want to add to our workload, waste our time, and to add insult to injury,

....actually that describes it very well, they insult us by getting control freaky on the safety of our own armchairs and if we do get injured, it's OUR FAULT.

Yes, if we get injured in an armchair from being attacked by a marauding red pen whilst marking exam scripts, it's our fault! Yes! Not the university's fault! Not the University's business, my armchair! So stop deluging me in forms, university!


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