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Controversy at USD: AFFIRM or DENY?

As Reader writer Dave Rice recently reported, the University of San Diego has just received $600,000 from the National Science Foundation so that it might "increase the number of female professors, particularly females of minority origin, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics."

"It's a wonderful gift," said USD Presider Mary Lion. "Ordinarily, that sort of grant would cover maybe two professors' salaries for a year or so. But given the down economy and the fact that women make only 75 cents on the dollar compared to men, I can probably get double that!"

But at least one professor - and a female professor, at that - is unhappy with the idea of gender-based hiring. In response to the AFFIRM program (Advancement of Female Faculty: Institutional climate, Recruitment and Mentoring) designated to administer the funds, Department of Chemicals and Biochemicals Chair Deborah Tahsammebi has founded a counter-organization. She calls it DENY - "Destroy Estrogen-based Nepotism Yesterday."

"Look," explained Professor Tahsammebi as she strolled with this reporter past the phallocratic spire of the Catholic university's Immaculata Church, "I get that some people have it tougher than others, and can use a helping hand. I mean, I coordinate the PURE program here at the school. PURE stands for Pre-Undergraduate Research Experience, and the program aims to help socioeconomically disadvantaged students who might want to attend USD. Poverty has a way of narrowing a person's vision, of engendering despair. We try to get students involved in research early in their academic careers, help them see the possibility of a brighter future through academic excellence, you know?"

But, she says, socioeconomic disadvantages are one thing, and gender is another. "Basically, AFFIRM is agreeing with whatever nitwit put the "Math is hard!" chip into Barbie. 'Ladies, we know that you would rather shop than do science, but look, we'll hold the door open and pay you extra! Then you can buy more shoes!' Frankly, it's an insult to women like myself, who earned their positions without any special programs."

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As Reader writer Dave Rice recently reported, the University of San Diego has just received $600,000 from the National Science Foundation so that it might "increase the number of female professors, particularly females of minority origin, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics."

"It's a wonderful gift," said USD Presider Mary Lion. "Ordinarily, that sort of grant would cover maybe two professors' salaries for a year or so. But given the down economy and the fact that women make only 75 cents on the dollar compared to men, I can probably get double that!"

But at least one professor - and a female professor, at that - is unhappy with the idea of gender-based hiring. In response to the AFFIRM program (Advancement of Female Faculty: Institutional climate, Recruitment and Mentoring) designated to administer the funds, Department of Chemicals and Biochemicals Chair Deborah Tahsammebi has founded a counter-organization. She calls it DENY - "Destroy Estrogen-based Nepotism Yesterday."

"Look," explained Professor Tahsammebi as she strolled with this reporter past the phallocratic spire of the Catholic university's Immaculata Church, "I get that some people have it tougher than others, and can use a helping hand. I mean, I coordinate the PURE program here at the school. PURE stands for Pre-Undergraduate Research Experience, and the program aims to help socioeconomically disadvantaged students who might want to attend USD. Poverty has a way of narrowing a person's vision, of engendering despair. We try to get students involved in research early in their academic careers, help them see the possibility of a brighter future through academic excellence, you know?"

But, she says, socioeconomic disadvantages are one thing, and gender is another. "Basically, AFFIRM is agreeing with whatever nitwit put the "Math is hard!" chip into Barbie. 'Ladies, we know that you would rather shop than do science, but look, we'll hold the door open and pay you extra! Then you can buy more shoes!' Frankly, it's an insult to women like myself, who earned their positions without any special programs."

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Comments
4

The National Science Foundation should spend their money to support all students interested in Science, Technology and Engineering. When women and minorities select majors in the hard sciences, we will have more female faculty members.

By the way the Chancellor of UCSD is a female scientist.

Sept. 27, 2011

In his September 20, 2011 "Almost Factual News" blog, Walter Mencken, misleads readers to believe he spoke with both University of San Diego president Mary E. Lyons, PhD, and USD professor of chemistry Debbie Tahmassebi, PhD, about a recent $600,000 National Science Foundation grant, but he did not. The information attributed to Drs. Lyons and Tahmassebi is completely fabricated and untrue.

We understand the nature of this satirical column. However, Mr. Mencken has gone too far with this completely false article. The only "factual" statement in the piece is the fact that USD received a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant we commonly refer to as AFFIRM. We demand the blog be removed from your website immediately.

Sincerely, Pamela Gray Payton Assistant Vice President, Public Affairs University of San Diego

Sept. 30, 2011

In his September 20, 2011 "Almost Factual News" blog, Walter Mencken, misleads readers to believe he spoke with both University of San Diego president Mary E. Lyons, PhD, and USD professor of chemistry Debbie Tahmassebi, PhD, about a recent $600,000 National Science Foundation grant, but he did not. The information attributed to Drs. Lyons and Tahmassebi is completely fabricated and untrue.

We understand the nature of this satirical column.

Sincerely, Pamela Gray Payton Assistant Vice President, Public Affairs University of San Diego ==

No, you do not understand the column or the nature of it. It is hard to believe a person who holds the title of Assistant Vice President, Public Affairs University of San Diego does not have an once of social intelligence. Are you really this dumb Pamela?? Or are you too playing a satire card?

Oct. 6, 2011

Dear Ms. Payton, You make a reference to Dr. Debbi Tahmasebbi, chair of USD's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. But I interviewed Dr. Deborah Tahsamebbi, chair of the school's Department of Chemicals and Biochemicals. I did, however, misspell the name of Dr. Mary Lion, Presider of USD. I will correct the error. Sincerely, Walter Mencken

Sept. 30, 2011

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