Sometimes I am surprised by people. Just when I think my cynicism is about to take full control of me, someone does something that restores my battered faith in humanity. Two days ago, just such an event happened.
One of my better students is a member of the committee that is determining what the senior class gift will be. This student has been through the ups and downs of my own sabbatical proprosal and, in the process, has really come to appreciate the present plight of the honey bee. So it really didn't surprise me when he convinced his fellow committee members to seriously consider a bee hive as the senior gift.
Last week he presented his idea for a gift to an administrative committee that included the provost, the college president and the vice president of the academic affairs (who was the individual who rejected my sabbatical proposal).
The meeting started out well but ended a little abruptly. My student asked the administrators whether they'd mind bees on campus and they assured him that they were completely supportive of the gift. He went further, though, and asked them whether they'd mind if the biology department were involved in this project. Again, they were supportive. But then the congenial tone of the meeting went sour when my student asked if the sociology department could be involved as well. The president and the provost laughed nervously while the VP frowned, stated that this wasn't possible, and ended the discussion.
This student knew I was hurt by my sabbatical rejection and risked alienating administration by going to bat for me. I wasn't aware he was even thinking of doing this either. He might have failed in getting my sabbatical reconsidered but he did succeed in making the rest of my week rather pleasant.