by Monty Tufnel
In another case of personalities and professional differences colliding in the blogosphere, a small group of professors across the country have rallied to the defense of their colleague Dr. Peter Crust after he was called a “Luddite” in a tweet from the VP of Student Services at his institution. It is a peculiarly, slowly developing story in a world of instant news.
The original tweet by Carmen Lustibuig was sent after she withdrew three advisees from Crust’s Introduction to European History class at Mammoth University for the Winter 2013 semester.
“I was particularly frustrated,” commented Lustibuig. “I see this every semester when students learn that Dr. Crust will not use the learning management system or correspond with students via email. They drop in droves.”
Lustibuig’s frustration led her to tweet, “Tired of working with Crust-y Luddites. Open sections available #mammothschedules.”
Crust’s dean, James Jameson, heard of the tweet and informed the 69-year-old tenured professor. When Crust then called his long-time friend in sociology, Martin Benzinger, the support began.
“I wrote a four-page letter to the Mammoth News, and waited three weeks to see it in print,” said Benzinger. “Little did I know that the Mammoth News no longer had a print edition. They had posted it online a week earlier and I never noticed.”
Administrative assistant Victoria Hall noticed it, though. Hall, who works for Dr. Louis Millstone, tenured history professor at nearby Walleye College, printed a copy for Millstone, knowing that he and Crust had gone to college together in the early 1960s. Millstone’s outrage resulted in a five-page letter, that Hall photocopied 100 times and sent to all of Crust’s colleagues in the International Historical Organization.
“Goodness, I remember that day very well,” admitted Walleye work-study student Justin Loud. “I had to haul that bag of letters across campus three times, trying to find the mail room. Finally, I just set the bag down in a computer lab. That was the best place anyone could suggest I go for mail delivery.” Eventually, campus security, after determining the bag did not contain explosives, got the letters to the post office.
Some of the recipients have taken their opportunity to criticize Lustibuig. Janice Lyme of Avalon College will have a heart-felt response published in the next volume of The Journal of the International Historical Organization. Lyme quotes herself when she says, “the decline of the modern education system comes as a result of the shifting forces at play between the pen and the stylus (or the finger). It is a sad day when the man who yields the pen is called a Luddite and the woman who wags the finger is called a Vice President.”
The support for Crust could have been larger. Evidently, Millstone’s original letter of support made it to only about half of the recipients. Many of the letters were returned, marked as undeliverable, to the post office. In the process, Millstone and Crust have sadly learned of the deaths of ten of their IHO compatriots.
The response has been enough to get the Mammoth campus buzzing now nine months after the original tweet. Because of the publicity many of Mammoth’s student body have joined in to support Lustibuig via their own tweeting frenzy:
“Gotta hand it 2 #lustibuig,” tweets one student. “She’s da man at sticking it 2 da man.”