The tail wagging the dog

04 June 2007

Imagine walking into a tutorial room early on a Monday morning, prepped to the hilt to teach your class, and plonked in the front row, decked out in the finest hair products, jacket and bling, you find . . . a Yorkie? Well, that's the whimsical sight that greeted Dr Sara Scharf at the University of Toronto recently. At least two Paris Hilton wannabes were causing the teaching assistant and her colleagues a few headaches, Scharf tells in an op-ed to the Chronicle of Higher Education. It appears to be a question of entitlement, figures Scharf. Fifi's (for that's our pooch's name) mistress perhaps feels entitled to have her lap dog by her side at all times (and she may have litigators on speed-dial who would argue the point on her behalf); the teaching assistants could rightly be entitled to teaching in a dog-free class; and some students may think themselves entitled to learn in a dog-free class. (Think allergies and distractions.) And, "how fair is it to carry a dog around in a bag - even one from Juicy Couture - that is too small to accommodate gym clothes?" asks Scharf. For now, it appears, an entente cordiale has been reached. Anyone who objects to Fifi in the class can tell the faculty, and Fifi will be asked to leave, tail between her legs or otherwise. "It is a sad state of affairs that we have to consult the rule books rather than simple common sense," says Scharf, but "at least now I have the tools to put Fifi back in the doghouse."

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