If you care to check my entries for mid-September 2011 and 2012 you will find more or less the same content. In 2011, I was given recently revamped classroom 302 and I commented that “We have two tiny windows, a blind is broken and temperatures inside the classroom were yesterday at 15:00 in the afternoon above 30º (that’s 86º Fahrenheit).” Last year, I was given a different classroom, possibly the same 102 I’m ‘enjoying’ now, and when, on the verge of collapse, I demanded the logistics chief that the temperature be taken for the record this was 32,5º.
Yesterday, with milder temperatures outside than last year (around 26º), once more 15:00 came and I found myself sweating like an iceberg in the tropics, facing 60 very uncomfortable students. I can’t begin to describe the smell that saturated the classroom, occupied non-stop since 8:30. I have, of course, complained once more but, so what?
I find it appalling that the most important thing I need to discuss on the day the course begins, for three years in a row, is the temperature in my classroom. Back in the ‘Licenciatura’ times, teaching would begin in early October, but now, with the academic year’s start pushed back two weeks into September, the weather is a serious problem. The weather and the building. I’m sitting today comfortably at home, no sweat, no air conditioning and the temperature is the same as it was yesterday. In contrast, my UAB classroom feels like a furnace. Why isn’t the AC on? Because we’re poor.
We are officially five years into the crisis triggered back on 15 September 2008 by the failure of financial giant Lehman Brothers. One of his former Spanish employees, the current Minister for Economy, Luis de Guindos, runs our finances since 2011. Just yesterday, his colleague José Ignacio Wert, Minister for Culture (and Education), announced that 603.069 students lost their state aids last year, a total of 195 million euros. Those who do dare study, as you can see, are subjected to insidious forms of torture, such as overheated classrooms, in which no normal human brain can really function.
I feel downhearted today, and it’s quite a physical sensation. My dignity as a teacher and as worker is being attacked, and so is that of my colleagues and the students suffering the same inacceptable conditions. I am really ashamed that students who have paid more than 1,000 euros to receive an education are treated like this and I am awfully embarrassed by what the Erasmus students must be writing home.
My brother tells me that the good times, which now seem to be almost a legend, will never come back and that this is who we are: poor, undignified. Insert here one of my deep sighs…
I did think of staging a protest and asking my students to join me into wearing a swimsuit to class but, oh well, then I’d be thinking of swimming pools all the time and it would be worse…
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