A few facts about the Sociology Department

  • In recent years, fifteen recognized scholars have been forced out of the university, including Professor Vladimir Nikolayev, one of the few Russian experts on the Chicago School and translator of Robert Park, Everett Hughes, Alfred Schütz, Harold Garfinkel and Erving Goffman; Professor Elena Kukushkina, a well-known expert on pre-revolutionary Russian sociology; Professors Y.N. Tolstova and O.V. Ivanov, experts in the mathematical modeling of social processes; Professor V.V. Shtcherbina, a leading theorist of organization sociology and consultant to a number of large Russian companies; Professor Andrew Degtyarev, a well-known Russian expert in political sociology and member of the International Sociological Association’s research committees on Political Sociology and Urban and Regional Development; and Professor Helen Shestopal, a well-known social and political psychologist and vice-president of both the International and Russian Political Science Associations.
  • Experienced and well-known teachers have been replaced with young careerists promoted by the dean. They freely acknowledge their own incompetence: “I am very surprised I have to teach this course. I don’t have much of a clue about it. But we’ll find something to talk about…”
  • Irrespectively of the subject, the lectures are full of never-changing clichés. To quote a student: “Every lecture starts from scratch: we start with a definition of what sociology is about and stop at the third page of the textbook. At every lecture, we ask ourselves: ‘Is this really what the social sciences are all about???’” In some cases, faculty members refuse to teach a class because they find it unacceptable simply to read out chapters from a textbook as they are told to.
  • Staff teachers are not given the opportunity to conduct research and discuss it with their students. The administration asks them to teach full-time and literally takes away any outside research grants they are awarded. As one teacher witnesses: “Obtaining a research grant through the department means that you have to do unpaid extra work. The grant money is transferred to the department and ends up in other people’s pockets.” Teachers must keep quiet about this if they want to keep their posts.
  • The department does not invite outside sociologists to give classes – neither academic scholars nor market or survey researchers. Instead, most lectures are given by staff teachers. To quote a student: “Lectures on business administration are given by someone who has never worked as a manager even at the lowest level, and has no idea how private companies function. He is a religious fanatic and is convinced that ‘In Russia, a woman can never become a full-fledged manager.’” The administration does all it can to keep outside teachers away by offering them a fee of 260 rubles a month (10 US dollars/7.5 euros/5 GBP).
  • The administration does not inform students about visits by international scholars. Students at the Sociology Department were the only ones at the university who did not learn about a visit by the social historian Michelle Perrot. A visit by well-known sociologist Piotr Sztompka was kept secret: the department’s administration and a few ‘select’ faculty members met with him on a Sunday behind closed doors.
  • Instead of improving the quality of teaching, the administration tightens up discipline. Attendance control used to be at teachers’ discretion; now the administration forces them to hand monthly attendance reports personally to the vice dean, Sergei Trofimov. In addition to the security guards, the administration has installed turnstiles, as if the department building was a high-security military installation. The department building is literally stuffed with surveillance cameras. The security guards and the vice president (in person) “hunt” for latecomers – both students and teachers. A student reports that “even professors who are five minutes late are made to provide a written explanation, not to mention students.”
  • The administration exacerbates this atmosphere of total control by constantly bullying and threatening students and teachers. Students bold enough to criticize the administration are often accused of lying, bad manners, over-assertiveness and even sexual inferiority. A student reports: “Sergei Trofimov constantly humiliates students. He is unable to solve any problem without bossing them around. He is incapable even of communicating with them: he either shouts or threatens them with expulsion, usually without even understanding the issue at hand.” In one known case, a female student who protested against the turnstiles was forcibly dragged through them by the security guards.
  • The dean’s office has distributed a brochure entitled “Why is the Russian Land being ‘cleansed’?,” whose authors blame Freemasons for “starting the world wars and initiating the creation of the atomic bomb” and claim that “the Zionist lobby … dictates US and British policy, is in charge of the global financial system (including the issuing of dollars), and practically controls all major mass media and telecommunications,” call Russia “the Righteous Country” and the USA “the Beast Country,” and quote the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as a reliable source.

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