Monthly Archives: December 2013

“Help Patti Adler stay at CU!!!”

By Max R. Weller

I joined the Facebook group “Help Patti Adler stay at CU!!!” so I might learn more about the entire situation, including Prof. Adler’s approach to teaching using role-playing by students rather than classroom discussion with real street people.

I’ve been sorely disappointed by the almost total lack of both insight into so-called deviance and any consideration of legitimate criticism for Prof. Adler’s “skits” — from someone like me whom she would label a deviant.

Many of her supporters who post to that Facebook group are blindly following their guru; they will tolerate no suggestions whatsoever about ways Prof. Adler might improve her class. Like Ward Churchill’s rabid supporters not so long ago, they’ve circled the wagons.

A few acknowledge that there are better ways than she is currently employing. One gentleman with academic credentials more impressive than Patti Adler’s said this:

“When I was sociology chair at UCSB Mitchell Duneier was teaching intro to 500 students at the same time he was doing the research for his book Sidewalk, on homeless men And women in New York. I supported his effort to bring in several of his subjects to participate in co-teaching the course. It was risky but in the end very effective. There was departmental accountability and Mitch’s academic freedom was never threatened. I believe the UCSB administration was as proud as we were about what he accomplished in that class. At least from a distance, it seems to me that every party involved in the CU controversy could have acted more responsibly.”

BTW, his comment was responding to the proposal I’d made that Prof. Adler find a well-spoken prostitute/drug addict to address her class on deviance. Such individuals DO exist, I can assure you. Instead, Prof. Adler seems content to: 1) take the lazy approach with student “skits”; and 2) bask in the adoration of her sycophants as she plays the role of martyr to academic freedom.

Nobody is “forcing” Prof. Adler to accept any retirement offer which might have been made by CU administration. However, if she chooses to leave her students will probably be the better off for it, especially if she’s replaced by a professor who insists that students learn critical thinking skills.

Shouldn’t that be the primary goal of any university professor, no matter the subject?


Addendum 12/26/2013: Well, I’m not surprised it happened; I’ve been kicked out of the Facebook group linked to above and blocked from viewing it as well (or the group page has been taken down).

My final post there included the link to this website called Rate My Professors. It uses a 5 point rating scale for students to evaluate their professors, shows that the average rating for ALL professors at CU is 3.68, and lists Patti Adler’s rating as 3.3 — in the average range. It also shows that there are 61 professors in the CU sociology department, and 1,799 total at the university.

The figure that jumped out at me was the 94 student ratings, both positive and negative, Prof. Adler has received; far more than anyone else in her department. It seems clear that she really does generate a lot of emotional response from students in her classes, compared to other CU sociology professors.

We all know about the outpouring of support FOR Prof. Adler, some of it verging on hysteria. To counterbalance that, here are several of the negative comments students have made (taken from the website above):

Patti Adler is not the ideal professor. She is rude, and also makes HER books that she wrote mandatory and you are unable to sell them back–and their rather pricey. The TAs do all the work, most of the learning takes place in the labs. Her exam format is awful and notes are not posted and hard to follow. I don’t recommend this class.

I honestly thought this class would be fun! I was right until the first exam came along. The exams ARE HARD HARD HARD. I read all the material and still got a BAD grade. Patti makes her exams too hard for a 1000 level course. The lectures are fun buuuuuut the most common grade in the class is a D and not worth taking (in terms of your GPA).

I absolutely HATED this class! She’s so weird, her tests were INSANELY hard, I spent $80 on her book that I can’t sell, and I honestly got NOTHING out of taking this class other than a C on my transcript and I am a student that typically gets A’s and B’s. If you’re considering taking this as an elective, I suggest you find another class!

This class was such a waste of time! Tests were really hard and they were all about applying definitions from her book which you’ll never care about again once the test is over. The only sort of good thing about this class was her ridiculous lectures. She’s one strange woman. I do not understand why this class is so popular!

Patti Adler is a self-absorbed egomaniac, her Deviance class is filled with Patti’s life accomplishments interspersed with wacked out theories and an occasional swear word–which is only entertaining to the inexperienced freshmen. I left class with nothing more than writer’s cramp from the four hour exams–its a 1000 level class, get a grip lady!

I ended up HATING this class. Her tests are memorizing a bunch of pointless lists. Her TA’s graded sooooo hard. The guy took off points left and right b/c I didn’t say exactly what he wanted me to. I should have complained. Should have fought the unfair grading more. But I didn’t, and now my GPA suffers. I would never EVER recommend her.

The Teacher is not very Nice and considers herself a CU celebrity. Class is somewhat interesting, but seems kinda ridiculous they make soo many take it

These comments were made in a time frame from 2012 back to 2005 (top to bottom).

There are others, but you get the drift.

I have no doubt that Patti Adler can choose to remain at CU as long as she wants, despite the paranoid conspiracy theories of persecution being put forth by her more outspoken fans.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus


On Sept. 21, 1897, The New York Sun published what was to become the most widely read letter to a newspaper. It was sent by 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, who lived with her parents in Manhattan. Below is the full text of that letter and the reply by Sun editorial writer Francis Pharcellus Church.

Dear Editor, I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.”

Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

115 W. 95th St.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

A Story of Christmas

By Bill Vaughan

“Tell me a story of Christmas,” she said. The television mumbled faint inanities in the next room, and from a few houses down the block came the sound of car doors slamming and guests being greeted.

Her father thought a while. His mind went back over the interminable parade of Christmas books he had read at the bedsides of his children.

“Well,” he started tentatively. “Once upon a time it was the week before Christmas, and all the little elves at the North Pole were sad.”

“I’m tired of elves,” she whispered. And he could tell she was tired, maybe almost as weary as he was himself after the last few feverish days.

“OK,” he said. “There was once, in a city not very far from here, the cutest, wriggly, little puppy you ever saw. The snow was falling, and this little puppy didn’t have a home. As he walked along the streets, he saw a house which looked quite a bit like our house, and at the window . . . ”

“Was a little girl who looked quite a bit like me,” she sighed. “I’m tired of puppies. I love Pinky, of course. I mean story puppies.”

“OK,” he said. “No puppies. This narrows the field.”


“Nothing. I’ll think of something. Oh, sure. There was a forest, way up in the North, farther even than where Uncle Ed lives. All the trees were talking about how each one was going to be the grandest Christmas tree of all. One said, ‘I’m going to stand in front of the White House where the president of the United States lives, and everybody will see me.’ Another beautiful tree said proudly, ‘I am going to be in the middle of New York City, and all the ‘people will see me and think I am the most beautiful tree in the world.’ Then a little fir tree spoke up, ‘I am going to be a Christmas tree, too.’ All the trees laughed and laughed and one said,  ‘A Christmas tree? You? Who would want you?’ ”

“No trees, Daddy,” she said. “We have a tree at school and at Sunday school and at the supermarket and downstairs, and a little one in my room. I am very tired of trees.”

“You are very spoiled,” he said.

“Hmmm,” she replied. “Tell me a Christmas story.”

“Let’s see. All the reindeer up at the North Pole were looking forward to pulling Santa’s sleigh–all but one, and he felt sad because . . . ” he began with a jolly ring in his voice, but quickly realized that this wasn’t going to work either. His daughter didn’t say anything; she just looked at him reproachfully.

“Tired of reindeer, too?” he asked. “Frankly, so am I. How about Christmas on the farm when I was a little boy? Would you like to hear about how it was in the olden days, when my grandfather would heat up bricks and put them in the sleigh and we’d all go for a ride?”

“Yes, Daddy,” she said, obediently. “But not right now. Not tonight.”

He was silent, thinking. His repertoire, he was afraid, was exhausted. She was quiet, too. Maybe, he thought, I’m home free; maybe she has gone to sleep.

“Daddy,” she murmured, “tell me a story of Christmas.”

Then it was as though he could read the words, so firmly were they in his memory. Still holding her hand, he leaned back: “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed . . . ”

Her hand tightened a bit in his, and he told her a story of Christmas.

William E. (Bill) Vaughan biography.