Andrew Lambdin-Abraham (kd5mdk) wrote,
Andrew Lambdin-Abraham

Ok, I found the Chronicle piece

I love the internet. Lexis Nexis can pull up an article 5 years old in how long with just a 2 year date range and 4 work query, and go through the entire files for that time.

I'll cut the piece below, since I doubt most of you could get to it any other way.

Copyright 1998 The Chronicle of Higher Education  
The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 11, 1998

LENGTH: 662 words

HEADLINE: Play Your Cards Right and You, Too, Can Earn Tenure


Some people say earning tenure is just a game. Now it really is.

An irreverent new card game, "Survival of the Witless," is being sold by Avalanche Press, a small, Virginia-based company best known for producing war games.

Tenure, according to the rules of the game, is "the key to fame, wealth, happiness and most importantly, to never having to put in a single day's work again."

Players draw cards to determine their gender, class, sexual orientation, and whether they are either "hopelessly white" or "desperately minority."

To win tenure, they must publish a book and gain enough status to insure a favorable vote by their review committee. At the start of the game, men get more cards than women, and whites receive more than minority players. "In the game, as in life, you have no choice in these matters," the rules say.

Brian Knipple, a spokesman for Avalanche, calls "Survival of the Witless," which is marketed mainly over the Internet, a "decent seller" -- not as popular as the company's military games but "our biggest seller on word of mouth." The press has produced about 3,000 copies of the game and has sold more than half of them.

The identity of the game's designer is not disclosed on its box, but he agreed to speak to The Chronicle on condition that he remain anonymous: He is a former instructor who hopes to work in academe again. With a Ph.D. in history, he never found a tenure-track job, but worked as an adjunct at a large public university in the South until he was let go in 1995, ostensibly for budget reasons.

"I won't deny that the game channels some bitterness," he says. "But I had long recognized that the tenure process is a game. These are people playing with each other's lives."

Described on the box as "A Wild No Holds Barred Game of Tenure Politics," the game includes dossiers of 16 fictional faculty members. Players draw cards to determine which of the 16 will serve on their review committees. Each card provides information on the faculty member's gender, politics, and willingness to be seduced.

Among the "professors" are R. Jackson Wentworth, age 94, who hasn't taught a course in years, but "no one is around to remember just how he came to get tenure."

There's Lana Wong, who has "personally matriculated" both male and female graduate students. Sued for sexual harassment, she proclaimed that "sexual relations between teacher and students are vital to the free exchange of ideas."

And there's Ricardo Bergamo, "known to his colleagues as 'One Book Willy,' " whose subsequent work is a rehash of his "one semi-successful effort," which everyone "admired rather than read."

Players then draw from a deck of 208 cards, which can advance or set back their quest for tenure. For example, they lose points if they draw the "Race" card, in which a student accuses them of prejudice, but they gain status if they pick a card that gives them a research grant or an office with a window. Drawing the "Lousy Teaching" card, on the other hand, has no effect on a tenure bid.

Players can play a "Seduction" card in an attempt to advance their careers, but it's risky, says the game's designer. "You use the 'Seduction' card to gain status with certain members of your committee, or you use it to gain an advantage over other players," he says. "There's also a 'Gossip' card. The effects of gossip are harder on someone who has played a Seduction card."

The game has attracted a small cult following.

"There have been a few uptight academics who have sent us nasty e-mails saying we're taking a serious process too lightly," says the game's creator, "but most who've played it really get a kick out of it. It's a fun game." He says he's even received e-mail from tenured professors giving him pointers on how to modify it.

"Survival of the Witless" is available for $ 32 from Avalanche Press, in Virginia Beach, Va., at (757) 481-3655, or via e-mail (


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