Hi Listserv members,
Here is something for the list serve, I think it is simple and straight forward, but it has become complicated.
I just want to hear the opinion of some of my colleagues who may be able to express what is right more elegant than I.
So it is the first day of classes in the organic chemistry lab sequence I, I am hanging around to show students where to put their bags, how to use the hoods, and in general think about the risks and incorporate safety into their technique. The students check into a locker drawer filled with intricate glassware. While students are checking in, the instructor (a graduate student) is walking around and the lab technician is in the prep room. A student comes up to the prep room window and asks for a beaker that is missing and to have a broken distillation head replaced. It is cracked in a jagged fashion at one of the ground glass joints, but might still work without leaking. Perhaps it would work in a still apparatus, but the jagged edges are a greater risk for the novice who is new to the hood, PPE, organic chem and the intricate glassware.
The lab technician provides the missing beaker and tells the student that the distillation, while cracked, will still work, the department does not have any money and she cannot replace it. I come to find that the technician has 2 dozen new distillation heads on the shelf, but insists on worrying about the department budget. The arguments she uses are invalid, this or that has not been fixed, a chemical order was canceled without her knowledge, the provost is to blame because they took the money.
Of course I could replace the still head myself, but what have I really done to change things. I am trying to educate her and change her culture. I am trying not to kick this up to a higher level. Before I do, I wanted to see what the list thinks about this.
James Saccardo, CHMM
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