Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 17:04:39 +0000
From: Lorraine Hanae Sakka <>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Subject: black list
Status: RO

Dear Dave:

I just recently came across your website and found it really
informative, especially since I am now in search of a teaching
position. I currently work at Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical
University (one of those blacklisted universities). Although I love my
students here and many of the faculty here have been more than kind to
me, I'd like to share a few things that I believe should be mentioned
about this school.

First, they hired me in November of 1997 after ousting the former
foreign teacher who was apparently one of the "lucky" ones to come here
without a contract. They finally forced her to sign one and then got
rid of her. According to one of my colleagues (who was instrumental in
ridding the school of "that gaijin"), my predecessor apparently was not
the most liked person, not only at our school but also the community.
Her reputation for being somewhat less than competent in her profession
is widely known, at least within the Hokuriku area. One of the reasons
for my being hired at such an unusual time of the year was the school's
fear that the former gaikokujin teacher would somehow interfere with the
hiring process.

After working for a private engineering university out in Kanazawa, I
wanted a change and I was told by my more informed colleagues that going
national rather than staying on at a private university was the "best
way." Needless to say, I took the opportunity to apply and was accepted
by TMPU. However, things have not been rosy ever since making the move
from a private to a public university.

After signing my contract, I was told (about 2 months later), that the
woman who was instrumental in hiring me (she's one of the Japanese
faculty member teaching English) has taken a dislike to me and has
started a campaign to get rid of me. I was "rehired" by the university
in March of 1998 (Reason: because that is when most contracts start in
public universities). In the meantime, the other professor was spreading
rumors about me and even got the VP to listen to her. If some of the
other faculty members of the liberal arts department hadn't at that time
intervened on my behalf and convinced the VP to find out for himself
whether the rumors were true or not, I probably would not even be here

The VP called me in, asked me about the problem. Of course, I only
heard about the problem from other faculty (this school is a veritable
rumor mill) so I told him only what I knew. He then asked if he can
come and observe my class and also suggested to the head of our
department to do the same. Both of them came to observe my classes (on
separate occasions), then left me to wonder whether I met their approval
or not. I had to call the VP who then said that he didn't see anything
wrong with the way I was teaching and decided to use his observation
report to convince the rest of the faculty committee that I was indeed
qualified to continue on for the rest of the year. I "renewed" in
November under the condition that I now do other work on a voluntary
basis (of course, since they knew they couldn't ask me to teach more
than my required 6 courses/semester).

Personally I don't mind doing extra work but what was uncomfortable was
the fact that the university went ahead and made certain decisions
regarding my schedule without notifying me first. After returning from
my vacation, I was told that my schedule changed and now I was going to
have to teach the "huge" classes that were normally reserved for the
Japanese teachers since they wanted more students to be "exposed" to the
gaijin teacher's way of teaching (since I refuse to speak/lecture in
Japanese during class). That semester I ended up not only changing my
plans for the courses I was scheduled to teach but also had to teach two
classes that had 50 plus students (I was told originally that as a
gaijin I would not be doing that). Despite the original
uncomfortableness with this, I managed and ended up enjoying the
students in these two classes. If I had refused, I would have been
without a job. The other decision the faculty made was my new
schedule. Without allowing me to discuss my schedule with the other
English department members, they met and decided on my schedule. Again,
the schedule is not a terribly undoable one but the fact that they
excused me from attending this rather important meeting only to avoid
the possibility of getting into further trouble with the above mentioned
female faculty member was a shock to me.

I am currently finishing up the first of the semesters of this new
schedule and am planning for the fall one (my last). I had a private
conference with the VP who shared that he wants me to continue on beyond
the three years (actually I'll end my contract in March of 2000, 8
months short of the 3 year limit. This is partly because they know that
hiring someone in November would be difficult and also for me, it would
be hard to get a position after March). However since they have to
follow Mombusho regulations (as they interpret them), he cannot do
anything about the contract system for now. To be honest, I would
rather stay because I love the students and my work but at the same time
I want to return to Ishikawa prefecture and try to get rid of the bad
taste this university has given me in my short time here. It is not the
3 year limit that bothers me but the other more subtle and
discriminatory treatment of the foreign faculty here that I feel need to
be brought to the job seekers' attention since I know this job will be
posted soon.

Job seekers, be warned: although the pay scale is attractive and the
initial friendliness of the faculty may seem enticing, the university
will slowly try to squeeze a lot out of you with threats of early
termination of your three year limit. They will advertise the position
as being a three year, term limit position (gaikokujin kyoshi) but if
you in anyway get on the wrong side of the woman faculty (I'll not name
but you'll soon find out), then you will be the victim of false rumors
and possibly early dismissal, especially if you are somehow less than
popular with the students. My saving grace has been my students rising
to the occasion and speaking up to other faculty about my dilemma
(especially since the other female teacher also spoke about me in class;
asking the students whether they liked me or not). Several of the
faculty outside of the English department listened and then got on the
bandwagon to make sure that the VP didn't simply listen to the other

I don't want to sound like some disgruntled woman letting off steam
about an unhappy teaching situation. If things were different, I
wouldn't mind continuing to teach here. My students try hard despite
all the homework and demands I make on them to communicate with me. The
doctors/professors in other departments have been more than friendly and
have come in for help as well as to just casually chat. I like the
people here and even the VP who probably really wants to keep me on (but
at least is under the impression that the Mombusho would not allow such
a thing.) Regardless, I am happy to get out and again, move back to
Ishikawa where most of my personal interests lie (taiko and friends).

One thing I noticed is that you do not list many universities in the
Hokuriku area despite the fact that several have been reputed to be
"bad" places to work including Hokuriku University and Kanazawa
Institute of Technology. Is your list incomplete or is it that you
haven't gotten much from this area? If you look up KIT, you'll see
their job opening announcement. Several of my former colleagues there
will be leaving after 4-6 frustrating years of being told about tenure
(and not getting it). I know, I was also under the same impression when
I was first hired at KIT (one of the reasons I left). Are schools not
on your black list (nor on your green one) considered "good" places?
Just curious. If you have time to spare to write, would appreciate some
feedback. Since I'm going to be in the market for a new position, I
want to make sure I don't make the same mistake. I will now have your
website to refer to and some time on my hands to search carefully. If
you hear of any schools in the Hokuriku area to avoid or to "go for",
please let me know.

Again, thanks for your website. I am definitely going to let others get
wind of this information.

Yours sincerely,

Lorraine Sakka
TMPU gaikokujin Kyoshi