Just need to vent for a few moments
As some of the readers of this blog know, I teach a wine appreciation course at Indiana University South Bend. I do this not for the pay (I get paid like $250 for six weeks' worth of time, one evening a week) but because I enjoy sharing my passion for wine with people who want to know more. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a knack for putting people at ease, answering their questions, and making them feel like they have received their money's worth. This class may be in jeopardy, even though it starts on February 13. The University has some rather stringent rules about serving alcohol at "University functions" (to quote the regulations). The alcoholic beverages must be purchased from the University-approved source (no big deal) and must be provided by the University-approved source, including, apparently, pouring. Our approved source is one of the local wine shops. It's not huge, but they are helpful and I've enjoyed getting to know the management there. Last fall, we offered the course again and offered actual in-class samples of wines. (Can you imagine going to a wine appreciation course and just being told about the damn wines?) It went very, very well. We had pouring devices to limit samples to one ounce, and never had more than five different samples. No one walked out drunk, no one drove while intoxicated. People were very responsible, and the class was offered late enough in the evening that they had dined beforehand. Well, some people at the University apparently believe "University function" includes the classrooms. Now, has anyone ever heard of a "function" as being anything other than a) a particular use of an object or system, or b) a gathering of people, like a party? (Okay, math folks work with functions all the time, but that's a different thing.) So, we decide to look into having the approved source pour the darn samples ahead of time. Fine, it's a pain in the neck, runs the risk that people will spill the samples or knock over glassware, but if that's what we have to do, that's what we have to do. But now we're hearing that some of the powers that be think the course should not be held on campus. So, they want to incur extra cost (after the cost and therefore tuition has already been calculated) to hold it off-campus, and here we are less than a week before it starts and we don't know where we're going to meet. Or even if we're going to meet. We limit the class size to 25 (thus only needing one bottle per wine), and we have 23 signed up. We know the class will be filled. It has been the prior times we've offered it. So, some schmoe who probably has moral objections to "alkeehall" is likely screwing up this perfectly good program. I've spent countless hours preparing PowerPoint presentations, and even had been working on a textbook for the course that people could take home at no cost to them. So, do I spend more time getting ready for the class, or do I cut my losses and just decide it's not worth it. That's a really, really tempting option right now. I'd almost rather take the time to find another facility and just offer the class myself. I'll get my own permit to be allowed to pour the samples, or I'll contract with a wine shop and have them do it. Or maybe I'll just point everyone to the podcast and let them get the course for free, and screw Indiana University. Okay, I think I'm done venting. I know that my course's program manager is as frustrated as I am with the situation, and even the department's chair was signed up for the class. There are people who don't want to see the class end, so hopefully something positive will happen in the next few days. I don't mean to sound like a kid on the playground threatening to "take my wine class and go home." But it is frustrating when you put time into a project, at minimal compensation, doing it for the love of it, and the effort is not appreciated by people higher up in the power structure. Rant over. I'm working on the next podcast, with a slightly off-the-beaten-path topic. Look for it soon.