speaking of offices…

What’s the best way of allocating them? It seems that allocation based on seniority is the most common method. But is it the best method? In the particular case of my department, there are a number of people who have been around for a very long time but who do no research. I do not mean that they are lazy, they are in fact fulltime teachers who have no contractual obligation to do research. We also have a scarcity of (good) offices. All of these senior, nonresearch productive colleagues occupy plum offices, essentially because they distributed them amongst themselves when offices where abundant. Of course, there are now a number of new quite productive researchers who have poor offices; some with no windows, some who share offices.

It seems clear to me that this is a silly way of doing things. The primary function of an office in an academic department is to provide space to do research and write. Offices are also necessary for meeting students during office hours. So wouldn’t it be more efficient to put all these senior nonresearchers in one big office like we do with sessional instructors? They would still have a space to meet students and it would free up valuable offices that could be put to better use. Suggesting something like this usually provokes howls of laughter followed by stern words about “seniority” and “fairness”.

Yeah, yeah, it’s obvious where my interests lie, but seriously, is seniority the best way to distribute goods like offices? If not seniority, then what? Any suggestions?

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