AS THE fall college term is about to begin, faculty members all across the country are asking the same question: "Will I get a decent parking space at my school this year?"
It is not generally known outside academic circles, but most professors are more concerned with their place in the Reserved Faculty parking lot than they are with the educational problems they have to deal with during the school term.
One reason for this is that a faculty member's standing at the university is usually based on where the professor is assigned to park.
I heard a tragic story that took place the other day at a leader Eastern university. A professor, I shall call him Rubloff, came back to school to discover that he had been assigned to Faculty Parking Lot B, which was 1,500 yards from the Administration Building. For five years, Rubloff had a space reserved for him in Faculty Parking Lot A, which was only 100 yards from the Ad Building. He couldn't believe it, so he immediately demanded an appointment with the chancellor.
"I want to know why I've been placed in Parking Lot B when I've always parked in Lot A," Rubloff said.
The chancellor said, "It was not my decision, Rubloff. As you know, we have a Faculty Parking Lot Committee, and they make all the assignments."
"On the basis of my seniority, I have the right to keep my car in Parking Lot A."
"That's true," the chancellor said, "but seniority no longer plays a role in parking lot assignments."
"That's ridiculous," Rubloff said. "What other standard can be used?"
The chancellor said wearily, "We've had to change the criteria. It seems most of the women faculty members found they had to park in Lot B. The Women's Faculty Caucus demanded equal parking privileges with the men. They said if they didn't get it they would sue the school. We had no choice but to change the system of assigning places. I'm sure you'll be very happy in Parking Lot B. The longer walk will be good for your health."
"But why me? I noticed Seagram is still in Parking Lot A and so is Teetotler. They got their tenure three years after I did."
"If you want me to be frank with you, Rubloff, the committee discovered you hadn't written a scientific paper in several years. They felt you're more interersted in writing letters to the New York Times than you are in furthering your academic research. There was also the question of the unfavorable book review you wrote on Prof. Carstairs' 'Root Canal Work of the 14th Century.' Carstairs is chairman of the Faculty Parking Committee."
"So that's it," Rubloff shouted. "Carstairs is getting back at me for saying his book had no bite to it. I stand by my review."
"And Carstairs stands by your parking lot assignment."
"Don't you realize what you're doing my academic standing?" Rubloff asked. "When the students find out they have a professor relegated to Parking Lot B they'll laugh me out of the classroom. Those kids can be cruel when they want to be."
"Rubloff," said the chancellor, "if it were up to me you could have my reserved parking place which is covered and also up against the building. But I'm only the chancellor, and I cannot interfere in faculty parking matters. Your peers are the only ones who can decide what kind of sticker to put on your car."
"Don't I have a right of appeal?"
"It's too late for this term. Your place has ben given to Dr. Mary Ogelthrope."
"But she's only an associate professor."
"She also happens to be in charge of the Faculty Tow Truck Pool."