Underpants on the outside

Jae Basiliere is the director for the Center for Teaching and Learning at NVU-Johnson. Their work consists of helping faculty develop teaching skills and working to improve faculty support of students. When they can find spare time, they are often working on diversity initiatives around campus.

If you were a pizza, what kind of pizza would you be and why?
I would be a bacon, pineapple and green pepper pizza. I like to think that I’m like 30 percent classic, 30 percent things most people would like on a pizza and 30 percent kind of controversial and divisive.

Is a PopTart a Calzone?
No, I think I would die on the hill that calzones are by definition savory.

What is the single thing you are most passionate about?
Making the world a less hard place than it is right now. I feel like that’s the thing that really underwrites all of the choices I make in both my professional and personal life.

What is the worst thing someone has ever said about you?
The harshest thing I think anyone’s ever said to my face is when I was writing my dissertation, one of my mentors put in a comment, 45 pages into a chapter, that I wrote so beautifully, that it was almost obscuring the fact that I wasn’t making an argument. That remains the most vicious backhanded compliment I have ever received.

What is your guilty pleasure?
I am, as a general rule, pretty open about my guilty pleasures and kind of also resistant to the idea of guilty pleasures. I think that my most secret guilty pleasure is that I’m a huge professional football fan. I recognize all the very complicated social and cultural things around the NFL and around football as a cultural icon, but I also really love watching football.

If you were a superhero, would you wear your underpants on the inside or the outside?
Absolutely outside. Yeah, you gotta do something to draw attention to your super-ness. If you’re just wearing your underwear normally, how will people know you’re special?

What three things would you bring to a desert island?
I would bring a hammock, a knife, and a fire starter. The people who bring SpaghettiOs and a TV aren’t going to make it the week.

Did you ever have a celebrity crush as a teenager and if so, who?
I feel like I had a hundred, but the most notable for me, and the most ridiculous was when I wasn’t quite a teenager. I was probably a tween, but I was obsessed with Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Devon Sawa, and then much later in my life figured out that they were coded as feminine to me, so they felt like boys I could have crushes on. I also went through a very embarrassing and prolonged Hansen phase as a teen for a similar reason.

What is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession is a stuffed white snow leopard named Spots that I’ve had since I was five years old.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
The one thing I can’t live without is absolutely coffee.

What is your ideal Sunday?
So, my ideal Sunday, I am sleeping in. I am drinking coffee and looking at the mountains. If it’s fall, I am watching football in the afternoon. Then, I’m spending my evening playing board games and going to bed kind of early because I’m old and lame.

What is your big is a pet peeve?
Oh, gosh. I have a list. I think the one that sets me off the most is people crunching ice cubes. Weirdly enough, dogs crunching ice? Adorable. People crunching ice makes me want to claw my eyes.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
When I was in my master’s program, one of my advisors told me that the day she stopped being a little bit nervous on the first day of class was the day she was going to stop teaching. Because, to her, that would mean that she was not invested in it anymore. I guess it actually wasn’t presented as advice, but I took it away as advice. And that’s something I use.

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The worst piece of advice I’ve ever been given, I think, was to tough it out in a profession where I was really unhappy.

What would you want written on your tombstone?
I would want a limerick on my tombstone. I don’t yet know exactly what it would say, but I know that it would probably be pretty inappropriate. But, yeah, I just want a dirty limerick written on my tombstone.

What is the strangest thing you have learned in your studies?
Full disclosure. My PhD is in diversity studies, and I have a concentration in human sexuality. So, I’ve learned a lot of very strange things. But I think one of the weirdest things, is that there is a really expansive genre of late 18th century, early 1800s, early 1900s silent film French pornography set in Catholic schools. It’s like hundreds, and hundreds and hundreds of videos in archives. It’s just very specific, very niche.

What is a new habit or skill that you picked up during last year in quarantine that you are happy about?
I have, weirdly enough, found better work/life balance during quarantine. That’s something that I am most proud of because it’s not something I’ve had in the past, and it’s something I would want to keep moving forward.

Is there any lingering quarantine habit that you picked up that you’re wishing that it never happened? Well, I wish I had never learned how great working in sweatpants was. Now that’s gone, and it can’t come back. I loved only having to look presentable from the shoulders up

If you have a bad day, what’s the first thing you’re doing when you get home?
Scritching my dog is always a good thing.

What brought you to Johnson?
I was looking to make a career change, and I had always assumed that working in higher ed, a lot of times people don’t get to pick where they work and where they live. So, I was trying to make this career change, and I was also trying to move back here because this is home for me. When I saw this job post in the sort of field I wanted to go into, in Johnson, Vermont, I knew, so I just threw myself at this application to make it work and it did.

What’s the one thing you think everyone should do if they could?
Fail catastrophically and publicly. It’s a good learning experience. I think it’s important to learn that it’s not as life ending as a lot of us think it is.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The practical part of me wants to pick something that could sustain life indefinitely, but that’s too boring. I think it would be corn on the cob. I just like it a lot, and I would be sad if I could never eat it again.

If you could change one thing about the way the world worked, what would you change?
I would make a basic amount of humanity a prerequisite for being in charge. I don’t need everyone who’s in charge to agree with me ideologically, but I need everyone who’s in charge to be a human and have human compassion.

If you were in a band, what would you call the band and what genre would you play?
If I had a band, I definitely would have an angry, feminist, punk band, and I think we would have a pretty cheesy name that sounds deeper than it is. A name like The Invisibles.

If you could sit down with five people from history, all at the same time, who would you pick?
So, the five people from history, I’m sad to say, are all academics, and I’ve chosen them both because I think their ideas are interesting, and because I think it would be fun to put them in the same space and watch them fight. So, the people I would choose would be, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, whose ideas are terrible but interesting, and… Oh god. I had a whole list and I forgot them. Okay, the list is gone, and I might not be able to finish this.

That’s all right. We got two, and that’s all good.