Thursday, September 23, 2004

Opening Week

Opening Week


Aargh. It's Thursday of Opening Week, a time where those of us who were really looking forward to getting classes together and meeting new students instead get to see colleagues and catch up for about 15 minutes, only to spend most of the rest of the week listening to bullshit and having our morale surgically removed with a jagged piece of glass.

Day one: Division Meeting and potluck. Food good, division people good, weather nice. Division meeting stuff useful and over quickly -- got elected to be a division rep on the Senate Council. VP visit to meeting ok, but questions met with curt answers -- VP isn't good with changes to plan, and expected to deliver top-down message. Still, we most of us like her, since she's 'our' VP and is the only thing standing between us and utter chaos. She has our good at heart, but also has NO people skills AT ALL. President (who is under discussion by faculty for a vote of no-confidence after wangling herself and the other execs big raises --$25k for the pres alone -- for the last two years running) gives us her amazingly Bush-like, super-vague goals for the year. Senior faculty member asks why dealing with morale problems isn't on the list -- and is accused of "negative thinking." Not only that -- "you all teach so much critical thinking, all you can do is criticize." President explains that optimisim is how pres faces the world, and if others choose not to do that, that's their problem.

Day two: All campus meeting. President tells us about optimism again. "we're not going to focus on what's wrong -- that's negative. We're going to focus on what we do right." Lots of praise for the professional-technical programs. Nothing at all on academic transfer. We don't count. Course schedules not sent out to prospective students this year, because they were trying to save money. Enrollments ridiculously low. FTEs may not reach what we need for biennial funding. Oh -- new dual-enrollment program with satellite campus of Flagship U. Big thing, will attract students. Pres is pleased, because it looks good for her. Doesn't seem to realize that it means we need to keep academic transfer strong, or we lose the deal. Makes a couple of comments about a very few people being negative, then ties it in to "we are not a university. That's not our job." Yet another slap at the academic transfer people who demand that our classes must be at the same standards as 100- and 200- level classes at 4-years. Board member breaks law and tells us how to vote on an initiative, but thinks it's ok, because he claims he's speaking as a private citizen. Arrogant SOB.

Day three: No meetings in the morning -- got a bit of work done. Faculty Senate meeting to discuss vote of no confidence tabled from last year. All non-faculty persons asked to leave via a vote to go into Executive Session. VP leaves, free discussion begins, a couple of the President's cronies start taking down the names of who says what, make accusations of underhandedness, and leave. Actually (I know because I read my e-mail from my division rep and go to the two Senate meetings every year) everything being discussed, including a document produced at the request of the Faculty Senate at the Spring meeting, listing specific causes for no-confidence, with examples, has been public knowledge for at least 6 months. Suddenly, VP, who had left with other non-faculty, walks in, unannounced, and informs us that we have no procedural grounds to exclude anyone from the meeting, and parks herself. Several faculty members leave, saying they feel unsafe expressing their views. Others waiting in line to make comments suddenly are willing to waive their time to let others speak. Yours truly does speak, since ADM has little to lose -- unlikely to be fired, since it would rally people against pres and the union wouldn't like it, not on tenure-track, and none of the admin people will be writing me recommendations for the job search. Highly respected faculty member speaks, says that the job search is on, many other faculty members get really teary-eyed. Other highly respected faculty member chides VP for lack of respect in an incredibly strong, yet kind, way. Readers, I'm sparing you the really ugly stuff.

Day four: starts in an hour. gotta run. But the levels of incompetence and total bullshit allowed by the state are amazing. They make me really question wanting to teach at a community college. I love the idea of an open door, but it's increasingly clear that open door means remediation for what students didn't learn in K-12, and job training. An open door to the non-privileged person wanting to be a doctor, or lawyer, or teacher, for example, doesn't exist. We're not about education -- we're about training drones. The academic types on the staff are merely window dressing to maintain accreditation.

5 comments:

Rana said...

Oh, gross. I'm surprised you managed to get through all that without biting someone!

mean regression said...

that sounds like one of the places i teach at. i know that these politics are happening all over the place. adm, i want to thank you for speaking up. as you know, it's not something that everyone has the, i'll call it priivlege, to do. so yay for you.

Professor Dyke said...

ADM, what a grueling and disheartening series of days! And kudos to you for speaking out!

Anonymous said...

Remediation is pretty much the order of the day at the 4-year "less competitive" place where I am adjuncting. I gave my students' first papers back Thursday. They tried pretty hard and actually seemed to understand the material, but the writing! This was an email I received from a sophomore:

I am very concern with my grade on my paper you gave me a C+ I Know that my grammar and structure of my sentences are not good and that I have to work very hard to improve my writing, but I will like to know what I have to do in orde to at least get a B in your class, is this grade is gping to affect me so badly in my grade??

The school dropped their ESL office, although they still have a writing center, which I'm forcing the students to use next time. My question is: who's making sure these kids learn to write? Will try graduate from college writing like this? I'm certainly not going to fail anyone who learns the material, but it seems like they shouldn't be allowed to graduate if they can't write.

Sorry this is off the "dreadful meeting/evil administration" topic but I felt the need to vent.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Thanks, all! Anonymous, I guess it depends on what you teach. I'm an historian, but writing still counts. I do a lot of grammar correction, and a badly written paper can't get an "a" grade. I send a lot of people to the writing center, and we have a fantastic ESL program. Still, my take on it is that we have an obligation to grade to college standards. If it's a credit class, and the students aren't prepared, all you can do is help them and/or tell them to take the class when their skills are up for it.

As for speaking out, a couple of people have come up to me on campus and told me that they appreciated it -- one actually said that I spoke with a great deal of integrity, which made my day.

I started my moonlight class at local religious U the other night, too. Getting back in the classroom made a lot of the crap just disappear!