IHE article on the APA Smoker

Here. (H/T Leiter) I tried to find online any pictures from the early APAs, which really did involve cigar smoking among an all-male club, but alas, couldn’t spot one. Two reforms are needed:

1. Committees should short list their candidates by using Skype. No one should have to spend $1000 or more to go the APA to have one interview when one is up against fifteen other candidates. The way this is handled in the U.S. is quite different than elsewhere. Memorial brought me to campus. No APA interview. They had a short list, invited the candidates and went from there. I know there’s a value to face-to-face conversations, but it seems to me you can invite more candidates to campus if you cut out the funding needed to send a faculty committee to the APA to do the interviews.

2. Whose idea is it to provide free booze on the first night of the smoker? It’s like a torture test for nervous graduate students. Also, it’s not a good idea for various drunk faculty I’ve seen wandering around, some of whom have been on hiring committees. David Shrader, the exec director of the APA, says as much:

Amidst this hubbub of anxiety, David Schrader, the executive director of the APA, walked around shaking hands and making conversation. …He noted the concerns of some women and said there had been informal discussions at the APA. Some had suggested a cash bar instead of free alcohol as a way of tempering bad behavior by making it a bit difficult to drink too much. …“There are a few who will misbehave,” he said. “We are not sure if we can do anything about the placement process spilling over to a reception or whether we can ask job candidates not to talk to an institution in a social setting.” Schrader said there were plenty of female philosophers who were comfortable at the reception and had not raised the issues mentioned in the blogs.

This a really unfortunate quote: what women have described is an atmosphere in which they are being propositioned by inebriated hiring committee members, which is beyond “misbehav[ing[,” but, you know, runs afoul of a slew of state and federal laws. And even if “plenty” of female philosophers don’t seem to mind (do I need to mention how similar wording has been used to defend many offensive practices far worse than this?), isn’t it enough if even a few say they do indeed mind and quite a bit so?

If women are writing on various blogs that they feel uncomfortable, well isn’t that enough reason to reform this? What could trump that? A reception is obviously fine, but get rid of the tables so that people are mixing more freely.

There are other good reasons anyway. The year I was on the market, I was exhausted from interviewing during the day and getting rid of the tables means you can perhaps give a “hi” or have a short conversation with a department without feeling the need to linger. Also, it means you can avoid having to meet other candidates, which always makes for awkward conversation. (I’ll never forget getting stared down by another candidate while talking to a member of the committee at a smoker. I was just trying to have a pleasant conversation about potential mutual interests and he stared at me, seeming without blinking for many minutes, as if I had killed his cat.)