Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Money for nothing

So I'm running this guest lecture series for my department. We have about four speakers per quarter, adding up to twelve-ish for the year. That means that every two weeks or so, we have a guest speaker come in to give a talk on some music-related topic and to eat and socialize with the students and faculty who come to hear the talk. It's a fun thing, and it gets prestigious folks here to share their ideas.

And it's a royal pain in the ass.

I worked my butt off this summer to get things settled in advance, and I managed to democratically come up with a lineup before the school year started, a fairly major achievement of organization and cat-herding. Then, a month before the start of the school year, I contacted the man in charge of the $30 million we just got from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. To cut the story short, I heard two and a half months later that somehow none of that money was available for funding our guest speakers. This after being assured all along that funding would be no problem. Great. Time to find more monies.

The primary source of funding for this series has, in the past, been a morass called the Campus Programs Committee. The problem with this source of funding is that it specifically prohibits the funding of series. So we lie. Lying is not the really annoying part, though. The annoying part is that because they don't fund series, I have to apply again and again and again and again for their money, presenting each speaker as a totally-unrelated event. And on top of that, they will not fund anything that receives any money from anywhere else. Meaning that I have to also lie about other funding or rely on them for every dollar. They don't have that many dollars.

Okay, so we look for other sources. A talk on the history of hip-hop? Let's ask African American Studies! No answer. Let's ask the magical 20th-century music fund that I didn't know existed until very recently. Yes! Money! Until it vanishes after the talk has happened because the committee (boy do I love committees!) didn't bother to actually read the application when it was submitted.

Respite comes in the form of speaker number three, who is on faculty here and therefore cannot get paid to speak. And lives here already, so no airfare. Whew! Time to breathe and write my own papers! Until I realize today that it is too late to apply for the funding I was counting on for the speakers on February 3rd. Yes, today is the 25th of November, and it is too late to fund major events before February 11th through the Campus Programs Committee. Great! It's also too late to fund minor events that take place on January 13th, our first speaker of next quarter.

So here I am, with a roster of fabulous speakers and an amazing team to help me run the actual talks, and the funding sources are vanishing, one by one. Sure, there are other ones. I can apply for $800 from the Graduate Students Association, once per quarter. That takes care of maybe one speaker. I could talk to other departments about co-sponsoring...if only my speakers knew what they want to talk about! Oh, and what visa do Canadians need to get to speak here for one day? Any ideas? I think I need to do that right now for February 3rd, assuming that we can pay them anything at all.

And my first final paper (a draft, thank god) is due Friday, and I haven't started. And my second is due next Thursday, and I don't even have a topic. And my shoulders are a mass of muscle that would be pleasant if its hardness came from exercise instead of severe tension.

If the series had actual series funding, I could maybe pay more attention to publicity, accommodations, food, and the other things that make the talks fun. Oh, and my own work. Instead, I stress about disappearing money and rely on the bottomless wallet of a man whose good opinion I value highly. Bah. Previous organizers of the series have managed to get by on this shaky framework; why have I been unable to keep track of the deadlines? They're only a month and a half in advance of the dates. That should be easy to remember. But I instead watch movies like The Wild World of Bat Woman and read plagiarized student papers and obsess over boys who don't even know I exist. This is a healthy lifestyle.

If anyone at this University has ideas about other funding sources, I'd love to hear them. Right now I need to finish a final paper and a funding application by this weekend. Joy.


Alexandra said...

Be careful not to blame all of your problems on Bat Woman. I hear she might send the Girls Who Are Dedicated to Batwoman to dance at you until you. Until you drop dead.

Everything will be ok! I know it!

Claudia said...

What ridiculousness. I am currently dealing with the fact that my organization, turns out, is not actually a registered organization. Which we need to be to get funding.

To be a registered organization we need a constitution. Which we don't seem to have.

Which I now have to write.

Definitely didn't know what I was signing on for when I agreed (or rather, didn't refuse) this position.

Good luck with your money issues and I will see you very soon (but not soon enough)

lorraine said...

Heart. I nom you. In the best way possible.

Amanda said...

busking? people will pay to hear music that isn't a christmas carol very soon.