Biography

RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The consequences of standing up for free speech at UNL

So, a visiting professor in my lab, Dr. Young-Sik Kye, two weeks ago, told me we'd been inspected by Environmental Health and Safety, and given a clean bill of health. That's good. We've really worked the last 3 months getting my lab clean after I was Departmental Safety Chair.

But then, very strangely, after I'd tweeted and blogged criticizing Harvey Perlman's response to the ASUN senate free speech issue, I got another notice saying I was going to be inspected again. Fine I replied, but wasn't I just inspected? No, that was your offices, I was told (not what I heard previously, though). We need to do your labs, HaH 725 725a and 725b.

That's OK, I said, there is no 725a or 725b, but do 725.

After this very abrupt and surprising inspection, I was told I was getting a humdinger of a safety report, but the main thing is my lab fridge and freezer were not compliant.

That's funny, I replied, they were modified by the department's own electronics shop to be safety compliant. And they've been judged safety compliant for 15 years (and frankly, there's not much in them)

Things have changed, I was told. Requirements are much more stringent. OSHA. (We're not actually subject to OSHA)

Then I was asked for safety records of all my students and personnel. Fortunately, 2 of the 3 signed on in the last 3 months and were rigorously trained. The third does purely theory. And the Department, mostly thanks to our excellent current safety chair and building manager, keeps rigorous records.

Then they looked at my own training. Although I was Department Safety Coordinator for the previous three years, and was actually doing the safety training for everyone in the department, apparently my own training is inadequate. I must take more safety courses.

I have no idea what will happen next. No doubt my email password will be judged inadequately secure, or I'll have to do diversity training.

They're messing with the wrong guy. I won't resist any of this. Instead, I'm going to list it all on my annual merit evaluation at the end of the year and demand credit for professional development.

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