Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spurious & Scurrilous

                   
Who are critics to conjure conflicts of interest or appearances of conflicts of interest in practices of campus security?
             

Of late, a few campus trash-talkers and too many faculty gadflies have disparaged the director of security at the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996] over multiple, overlapping conflicts of interest that only those with X-ray vision 
can espy.  By contrast, respectable, responsible, and reliable colleagues whose main trained incapacity is myopia peer through such disparagements to see illogical, ill-informed micro-management by faculty, staff, and students who are not sufficiently sympathetic to administrators or to authority in general.  As "Cool Hand" Lucas Jackson cautioned his fellow inmates, bosses at any road prison need all the help they can get. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVpNfjj2Atw about 18 minutes in]  Cooperative, collaborationist,  conformist and/or craven colleagues -- which is to say, the majority of the faculty -- will disparage the disparagers and disparagements.  It's our duty.
                              
Those who disparage the Director allege as a first-order conflict of interest that someone defamed on the "Bigots of Puget Sound" flier should minimize his involvement in any conduct processes following from the UPS3 flier incident of November 2016.  Cooperative, collaborative, conformist faculty and staff will note, however, that the UPS3 or confederates may have anticipated such an appearance of a conflict.  Indeed, those miscreants may have planned it!  What better way to get security out of your way than to hamstring the Director by naming and defaming him?  Lovers of good order and propriety intone that longstanding allegations of repeated discriminatory practices rehearsed on the UPS3 flier are stale and dated calumnies that respectable, respectful, reliable, and responsible members of the Puget Clowns community would not sink to consider.  Problems and allegations thus dismissed, the Director has neither a conflict of interest nor even the appearance of a conflict of interest in the first flier.  Along the lines of "The Emperor's New Clothes," the defenders of good order demand that respectable, respectful, responsible, and reliable colleagues view such matters innocently.  Besides, if the Director were barred by a conflict or the appearance of a conflict, would there be anyone else in security to substitute?  It's not as if the university has seven or more "Campus Safety Officers" whose names did not appear in the November flier.
                                          
Not content with their first-order canard, the disparagers of good order and prompt compliance conjure a supposed second-order conflict more specious than the first.  The fliers distributed at the installation of the new president named the selfsame Director anew. Are faculty of good will and excellent conformity to suppose this a coincidence?  Mustn't those disseminating the new flier have known that the Director, upon even the most preliminary inspection of the flier, would be hopelessly compromised because he could not then appear to be content-neutral in declaring the silent distribution of fliers to be disrupting the inauguration?  Note that disparagers and distributors do not claim to know who stymied the silent disruption of the latest affront to good order on campus.  For all that the disparagers know, the Director had nothing to do with censoring or evicting the two students.  How could craven, conformist faculty know whether the Director asked anything of those distributing the fliers?  They couldn't.  They shouldn't.
                            
Disparagements, alas, do not stop with the first- and second-order affronts above.  The nonconformists who believe in liberty take decent staff and faculty aback with aspersions of a third-order conflict.  The Director named in each flier then "criminally trespassed" an erstwhile student, a refugee from the University of Puget Clowns, who was sitting at the inauguration as if he were a member of the public and thus entitled to attend an event open to the public.  Have disparagers and nonconformists and libertarians no shame?  What did the transferred student have to do with the second flier?  What appearances of that conflict could security-blasphemers adduce?  If the Director could not escort the former student and poster of the first flier off campus, who would be available to do so?  What detractors claim to know whether the ever-vigilant Director revenged himself on one of the UPS3?  Such information has appeared in no approved account of the incidents.  Nor do carping critics know that the Director called Tacoma Police and for what reasons.  
                                
Every proponent of civility and order and docility and servility and obsequiousness on campus must denounce criticisms of the Director as spurious and scurrilous.
              

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Questions Faculty Do Not Ask & Authorities Do Not Answer

The Committee on Diversity induced the plenary meeting of the faculty on 18 April 2017 to discuss recent acts by campus security against students at the installation of President Crawford on 24 March 2017.  To assist colleagues who did not participate in the discussion, I construct below the questions that they might have asked of authorities.  I quote black-fonted copy below nearly verbatim from emails.  Questions colleagues might ask appear in a brick-red font.
              


Questions colleagues might have asked concerning the email from the Office of the Dean of Students that faculty received on 30 March 2017: 

                 

In the wake of several high-profile protests and demonstrations on college campuses across the country this spring (including Middlebury, Notre Dame, NYU, and UC-Berkeley), we write to affirm the right of all members of the campus community to engage in free expression, peaceful assembly, and orderly demonstrations in accordance with university policies.  Two deans wrote to faculty in response to recent news from college campuses rather than as a response to eviction of one or more students from Pamplin Fieldhouse at the University of Puget Clowns
 [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996]? Was the juxtaposition of protests and demonstrations with the "affirmation" of rights of free expression in the campus community more contextualization or more misdirection? Would a member of the faculty lack civility to suspect that the email was pre-emptive?
                                   

These include the Student Integrity Code, Violence Prevention Policy, Campus Policy Prohibiting Harassment, and other policies designed to uphold our core values of self-expression and diversity of thought, collegiality, courage, passion, and equity and inclusion; allow for robust dialogue; and also protect the rights and safety of all members of the campus community.  How familiar are most would-be demonstrators with the named policies?  How might would-be demonstrators familiarize themselves with unnamed policies?  Beyond directing readers to core values to which the deans attribute policies named and unnamed, does this sentence serve to insinuate concerns for the rights and the safety of all?  Might an unwary reader fail to note that no threat(s) to rights or safety were even alleged?
               

In keeping with its mission, the Puget Sound campus is a space for open and civil dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.  Did the deans deliberately equivocate between assumed ideals and asserted actualities in this sentence?  
                 

It is understood that participants in protests or demonstrations speak only for themselves and do not represent the college as a whole.  If these matters are understood, who so understands them and why do the deans state them?  Why the passive construction "It is understood" rather than identifying the authorities who so understand?
               

So that protests and demonstrations achieve their intended purposes without disrupting college operations and activities or the ability to provide services; intimidating or infringing upon the rights of others; or threatening the safety of persons or property, college officials acting in performance of their duties have the right and responsibility to limit the time, place, and manner of protests or demonstrations.  Do the deans in this sentence mean to imply some solicitude for the purposes of protests and demonstrations?  Do the deans invoke disruptions, operations, and activities or services or intimidations [of whom?] or infringements on rights or threats to persons or property to contextualize and thereby to concoct some expansive rights and responsibilities of and for officials of the University of Puget Clowns?
   

In such an instance, for example, a representative of the college may ask a person or group to refrain from entering a meeting or event that is in progress, or to move to an alternate space, such as an area outside of where a meeting or event is taking place.  Why is this instance phrased hypothetically?  Do the deans intend their litany of limits on the "time, place, and manner" of free expression to characterize by indirection removal of student(s) from inauguration?  Did the representative of the college who evicted the member of the UPS3 have any conflicts of interest that might have compromised his "performance of . . . duties" or raised questions of reprisal?
             

We hope that this information provides useful guidance to those who plan to exercise their rights to organize or participate in demonstrations on campus.  If useful guidance in service of free expression were the primary purpose -- rather than, say, a defense of actions undertaken without the knowledge of the two deans -- why is the email so guarded and equivocal?

Please contact either of our offices for questions about university policies and support of university activities.  Are you two kidding?




Questions colleagues might have asked concerning the email from the Office of the Dean of Students that faculty received on 31 March 2017:


By way of summary, I understand that some number of faculty members received the video referenced below that depicts a portion of an incident that occurred during the installation ceremony for President Crawford. Two issues occurred during the ceremony.  How did the "issues" come to the attention of which officials?
            

1) In the midst of the event, two students came into the event area to distribute fliers.   They were asked to not disrupt the event by distributing fliers during the ceremony but were free to distribute outside the Fieldhouse. They complied with that request. What event(s) began when?  Which event area(s) did the two students enter and when?  Did they disrupt any parts of the inauguration, or did one or more officials fear that they might?  Did the fliers implicate any official(s) who were making requests, raising the specter of conflict(s) of interest again?  God forbid, was any official or decision-maker implicated both in the flier last November and the flier in March?  
            

2) A third person, a former student on suspension who did not have permission to be on campus, entered the Fieldhouse and was asked to leave. When the individual failed to comply with multiple requests to leave campus, Tacoma Police were called to assist.  Does a former student ordinarily require permission to be on campus?  When a student on suspension leaves the university, does the suspension persist? When did the erstwhile Logger enter the fieldhouse?  When was the erstwhile Logger spotted?  What was he doing or had he done before he was spotted? How and how often did the individual fail to comply and with what sorts of requests?  Who called TPD?  What made their assistance necessary or advisable?  Did the person who called TPD have any conflict(s) of interest?
               

The foregoing are among the questions faculty might have asked or might yet ask in the unlikely event they cared enough to ask.  
              

By contrast, faculty who prefer to go along with being clowned need ask nothing. Indeed, responsible and respectable faculty know that asking questions of officials is ba-a-a-ad.

                      
              

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Re-Accommodating Authority

   
The following report on the rousting of a passenger from a United Flight from Chicago to Louisville adduces norms of ethics, courtesy, and legality that might inform us all regarding the "criminal trespassing" of one former student from the inauguration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXB87rSCU0Q  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXB87rSCU0Q

           
Inauguration:  https://www.facebook.com/lsbbgh/videos/1646576072038202/
             

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Let's Shorten Inaugurations!

      
Since, by Haltom's Second Law, it doesn't mean nothing, inauguration is mostly blather.  Couldn't it be enhanced?
          
Introduce representatives of the Puyallup Tribe.  Those representatives announce that the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996] is a failed experiment.  The tribe then asks for its land back.
           
Then, we all hit the buffet.
           
Just a suggestion.
           

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Self-Absorption and Symbolic Pork-Barreling


On 6 March 2017 the Faculty Senate reveled in and revealed its self-absorption.

              

The Faculty Senate has been crafting language -- at this point savvy readers know that this sentence cannot end well -- to state goals of the university or its faculty or whatever/whomever.  My warnings against loosing wordsmiths on copy crafted by a committee were disregarded as senators dove into troughs of symbols and shibboleths and other slop.  Generally harmless and feckless self-seekers transmogrified themselves quickly into symbol-seeking, shibboleth-wielding, and slop-speaking identity hustlers.


  • One senator instructed all present why this or that argot was familiar to her because she routinely regaled post-literate captives with the Newspeak she now favored for a statement of faculty goals.                                             
  • Another senator recalled hermeneutic jargon -- predictably impenetrable and, at least by this fellow, inexplicable -- by which some literary or linguistic savants had endorsed Doublethink utterly unhelpful for a statement of general designs for a school or its instructors.                         
  • Yet another senator proposed infelicitous, non-idiomatic phrasing lest the phrase "his or her" exclude the identities of some of that senator's students.

          
These senators [self-]righteously quacked duckspeak suited to the 21st century. In his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) Orwell conjured a form of disability, duckspeak, that so impaired English that it stunted thought and stultified speech.  All three senators favored highly individualized "feelspeak" to insinuate their own individuated, even idiosyncratic valuations and agendas into what was supposed to be a collective, consensual statement of goals of the faculty or institution.
               
At this point I blame no reader for asking why I bring up posturing, posing, and other self-aggrandizement in any academic congregation.  I raise the misbehavior to note again that the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996] has become even more expressive than when I arrived in 1986 but, alas, expressive of individualism without individuality, self-regard without self-awareness, and egoism without the Ego to pull off the hustles of senators slopping at symbolic troughs.
          
Thus, I concede that the university at which I arrived boasted and toasted self-aggrandizing frauds and fakers but urge colleagues to attend to how collegial and collective the rhetoric of such frauds and fakers tended to be.  


  • One professor repeatedly recalled the initial demise of a majority of his large "tenure class" to justify his lack of sympathy for women denied tenure in the 1990s.  He failed to mention that he received tenure and defended his dissertation in the same year, a feat explicitly discouraged by The Faculty Code after his probationary period and before the tenure decisions of colleagues for whom he had no sympathy or pity.  That said, he defended the institution's decisions and decision-making as necessary and proper under the mission of the university and the aims of academia.
               
  • Another professor chronically delighted herself [and no one else -- ever!] with tales of her rigor in the classroom and her designs for generating similar rigor among her colleagues who too often were "holding hands" when they should be challenging their students.  She imagined, I imagine, that no one knew that she was a notorious hand-holder of students. Be that as it may have been, her deception of herself and attempted deception of her colleagues served, indeed serviced, putative goals of education and of inculcating responsibility.
              
  • Yet another professor posed as a leading intellectual on campus and gave a Register Lecture despite his having published little.  Colleagues in his department defended him by noting that he knew the first sentence of everything ever published in his fields.  This fellow preened and pretended but strived to live up to ideals of the Enlightenment.
          
        
The faker, the hypocrite, and the fraud, respectively, barely stood out for their self-serving, self-seeking performances.  They were probably favorably representative of colleagues who confabulated various collective pretenses of a so-called university shifting from the party school that hired them to the liberal arts college to which they [and administrators and trustees and alums] aspired. I can understand and forgive the individual pretending because the collective pretense may have made the institution better.
         
      
I find current colleagues more candid but note that they appear to feel no imperative even to pretend to collective pretense.  Instead, their performances are candidly self-seeking and self-serving when not flat-out confessional. [See "When did plenary meetings of the Puget Sound faculty become 'Queen for a Day?' " 10 February 2017 in this blog to see what I mean.]  These performers ham it up at faculty meetings lest colleagues fail to apprehend how burdened and beset these colleagues are in their personal, professional, and pedagogical lives.  These individuals uniquely suffer for their artifice.  They cannot return books to the library because they have so many responsibilities to university, profession, family, and personal activities.  Such individualistic, indeed atomistic [It's all about me and mine!] striving or stridency is not merely embarrassing but centrifugal, for if taken seriously it misdirects faculty decision-makers from common, conjoint endeavors and goals to personal wants [which, predictably, will be called "needs"].  This opens the trough to faculty who shoulder the collective aside in favor of slopping themselves, which in turn leads to far more pork-barreling.  Faculty witness not even pretense of common policy for common ends or goals.  Instead, faculty hear and bear egoists profess their own entitlement to and expectation of personal payoffs.  "Ask not what we can do for our students or the university;  ask what you all can do for me."
         
Self-absorption pays.  Symbolic pork-barreling works.  So expect payoffs and graft and special pleading [Indeed, the pleading is so special as to extend barely beyond the pleader lest the pleader give up some spoils to colleagues!] to dominate discourse and to corrupt faculty governance.        
                        
---------------------------------------
               

"Kanth realized that people are not at all like Adam Smith’s homo economicus, a narrowly self-interested agent trucking and bartering through life. Smith had turned the human race — a species capable of wondrous caring, creativity, and conviviality — into a nasty horde of instinctive materialists: a society of hustlers."  



http://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/have-we-been-denying-our-human-nature-for-four-hundred-years/    concerning Farewell to Modernism: On Human Devolution in the Twenty-First Century
     

                


excerpt from 1984, Appendix, The Principles of Newspeak, page 241-251:

          

 "...What was required, above all for political purposes, was short clipped words of unmistakable meaning which could be uttered rapidly and which roused the minimum of echoes in the speaker’s mind. The words of the B vocabulary even gained in force from the fact that nearly all of them were very much alike. Almost invariably these words — goodthink, Minipax, prolefeed, sexcrime, joycamp, Ingsoc, bellyfeel, thinkpol, and countless others — were words of two or three syllables, with the stress distributed equally between the first syllable and the last. The use of them encouraged a gabbling style of speech, at once staccato and monotonous. And this was exactly what was aimed at. The intention was to make speech, and especially speech on any subject not ideologically neutral, as nearly as possible independent of consciousness. For the purposes of everyday life it was no doubt necessary, or sometimes necessary, to reflect before speaking, but a Party member called upon to make a political or ethical judgement should be able to spray forth the correct opinions as automatically as a machine gun spraying forth bullets. His training fitted him to do this, the language gave him an almost foolproof instrument, and the texture of the words, with their harsh sound and a certain wilful ugliness which was in accord with the spirit of Ingsoc, assisted the process still further.

So did the fact of having very few words to choose from. Relative to our own, the Newspeak vocabulary was tiny, and new ways of reducing it were constantly being devised. Newspeak, indeed, differed from most all other languages in that its vocabulary grew smaller instead of larger every year. Each reduction was a gain, since the smaller the area of choice, the smaller the temptation to take thought. Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning "to quack like a duck". Like various other words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment." 

http://www.orwelltoday.com/duckspeak.shtml

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Nescio

Do not fret what you do not know.  What you do know suffices to establish that some complaints from minorities at the University of Puget Clowns have been validated by conduct proceedings in and of the Division of Student Affairs.
            


Is the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996] genuinely searching for a “Director of Student Conduct” for its reeling Division of Student Affairs, or is an inside candidate awaiting elevation?
       
I do not know.
               
Since the most recent "Director of Student Conduct" portrayed himself as more about restorative resolutions than about punitive policing of students, is it likely that his successor will be more about public relations gestures and draconian vengeance than about educational measures and restoring community?
     
I do not know.
     
Is the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students retiring or resigning after having stayed in his post longer than he might have wanted to? Is he being pushed out the door or pushing himself out the door because his division exposed itself as, under the best interpretation, incompetent to handle the flier incident?
     
I do not know.
     
Does the interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students signal a lack of trust in apparatchiks in the Division of Student Affairs to handle their reeling division over summer months?
     
I do not know.
     
Whatever became of the UPS3, a moniker for students prosecuted for posting fliers entitled "Bigots of Puget Sound" [and UPS3 offends one or more of my colleagues waging proxy wars against the forces of diversity]?
                              
I do not know.
            
Was the drumhead prosecution of the aforementioned three students—hereafter to be designated The Charlie Foxtrot!as much a disaster for due process as it was a debacle for public relations?
        
I do not know.
         
Were more provisions of the vaunted "Student Integrity Code" followed than were eluded or finessed or violated or contradicted amid The Charlie Foxtrot! proceedings?
          
I do not know.
         
Did communications from faculty influence apparatchiks or administrators or both to turn from educative or restorative responses to punitive or public relations responses amid The Charlie Foxtrot! proceedings?
            
I do not know.
           
Did the apparatchik(s) conducting The Charlie Foxtrot! proceedings interview some or most of the targets of the "Bigots of Puget Sound" flier to see what they thought penalties should be?
      
I do not know.
              
Did The Charlie Foxtrot! transmogrify from primarily a process for restoring and reconciling offenders to the community and educating deviants to conformity to primarily a process of reconciling the targets to their privilege in the community and restoring those with hurt feelings to the serene comforts of security and safety from challenge?
         
I do not know.
          
Does the solicitude for the targets of the "Bigots of Puget Sound" flier contrast starkly with the stern, lofty lack of concern for the grievances of the UPS3  during the Charlie Foxtrot! proceedings?*
             
I do not know.
             
Did administrators or apparatchiks or both seek or obtain counsel from lawyers or from public relations specialists [a.k.a., flacks]?
              
I do not know.
              
Did apparatchiks or administrators or lawyers or PR flacks come up with "harassment" as a special term in the "Student Integrity Code" [because victims of harassment are entitled to learn of the disposition of complaints about harassment]?
           
I do not know.
           
Were the fliers deemed "harassment," contrary to ordinary usage, because illicit posting in the SUB or disrespect were or would be insufficient to rationalize draconian sanctions?
             
I do not know.
           
Did one or more of the targets of the flier complain to precipitate The Charlie Foxtrot! proceedings, or did apparatchiks or administrators commandeer the process and, selectively, the "Student Integrity Code" to prosecute the agenda or agendas of apparatchiks, administrators, lawyers [to fend off suits for defamation], and/or PR specialists?**
       
I do not know.
              
Does all the foregoing tend to reinforce the complaints of the UPS3 and their allies about the differential treatment of racial and ethnic minorities and of their complaints at the University of Puget Clowns?
                
That I do know.  And so do you.
            
Does much of the foregoing tend to reinforce decades of experience of the "Student Integrity Code" as both a license for arbitrariness, moralizing, and vendetta by those in positions to wield the "Student Integrity Code" and as a sword overhanging any student insufficiently obsequious to authorities.
            
That I already knew.  And now, so should you.
               
Will the campus community be able to answer any of the questions above by reading through the file that the "Student Integrity Code" requires for conduct proceedings?
         
I do not know.  Did those who were allegedly following the "Student Integrity Code" to sanction the UPS3 fulfill their own obligations under the selfsame "Student Integrity Code," or did they only follow the "Student Integrity Code" when it suited them in fending off pressure from administrators or faculty or parents or media or PR flacks or others who mattered [unlike students of color, who did not and do not matter]?
            
             
             
*I warn moronic moralistsespecially proxy warriorsthat I know how they will want to emote and to moralize in response to this question.  Bring it on! Make my day!  Elicit my next entry in this blog.
         
**Why might this matter?  If the UPS3 and those who agree with them were protesting that administrators and apparatchiks [among others] do not listen, then the procurator(s) and the adjudicator(s) [assuming that the adjudicator(s) and procurator(s) were not the same person(s)] would manifest a conflict of interest.
            

Friday, February 10, 2017

When did plenary meetings of the Puget Sound faculty become "Queen for a Day?"

Question:  Why must faculty abase themselves for profit and pity?

Answer:  Because faculty are not able to embarrass themselves.


Last Tuesday [7 February 2017] about 50 faculty gathered in Thompson 193 to discuss, among other matters, an idea adduced by the Faculty Salary Committee [FSC] to raise the salary scale for assistant and associate professors to bring those ranks closer to the median salaries for faculty at institutions that some faculty and administrators compare with the University of Puget Sound. Because the FSC and especially Professor Hanson were clear and logical, they disarmed some faculty who had regaled the Faculty Governance List-Serve [hereinafter, The Wah-Wah Bar, after George Harrison's "Wah -Wah"* on "All Things Must Pass"] with personal details and special pleading.  The FSC and Professor Hanson could not, however, overcome the devolution of both The Wah-Wah Bar and faculty meetings into revivals of "Queen for a Day."
           
Especially young faculty, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_for_a_Day
               
"Queen for a Day" was a pity party on radio, then television.  Multiple women would come on the show and, after preliminary pleasantries, reveal some burdens under which they claimed they labored.  Audience members would express sympathy for and with each abject contestant, then applaud for the woman most deserving of pity.  That woman would be named "Queen for a Day" and would get some prizes.  One or more prizes would be targeted to the woes that the contestant had rendered most melodramatically.  The sobbing winner would then be worshipped until the closing credits and commercials.
     
For the last decade or longer, faculty meetings have all too often resembled "Queen for a Day." Special pleaders compete for special consideration.  "What about me?" is masked a little by "What about me and mine?" or "What about me and faculty like me?"  Once the whimpering and snivelling signal the start of the competition to be most pitiable, experienced faculty await the deployment of "fairness" or "fair."  The pretenders to the throne of melodrama queen for the day regale the assembled with reports, reminiscences, and other folderol that seem or sound designed to wring expressions of concern from faculty.  Those expressions of concern are then taken by unwary or inexperienced faculty to be tantamount to establishing unfairness despite any competitor's seldom defining "fair" or "unfair" beyond the competitor's interests.  The institutional or collective decision is unfair, that is, if the decision threatens to deprive an individual or class of some benefit they desire. To outstrip colleagues and to construct the unfairness, contestants indulge in melodramatic excess and lawyer's history.  They relate however tenuously the personal to the policies or proposals in question. They construct opportunity costs like President Trump.  They redirect the faculty from collective interests and concerns to the interests of individuals or ilks.  Many of the presentations, of course, are wholly or mostly fanciful. Whether the special pleading is true seems irrelevant;  the playing of the victim is the thing.
   
I confess this much:  Nobody knows the troubles these special pleaders claim to have seen or endured.  I suspect that no one knows such troubles because the alleged difficulties exist only in the overheated blather of the contestants.  For example:  Even if a colleague really took a hit in the pension in 2008-2009, he or she also acquired stocks or bonds when the Dow was below 7000 and, if she or he behaved sensibly, now owns shares that have nearly tripled in value.  I provide but one example but generalize that few if any claims to individual victimization by general policies will withstand scrutiny.
     
Nonetheless, as part of conjuring opportunity costs and imagining injuries on their way to bleating "Unfair!" contestants must micro-manage perceptions.  That is, they must induce faculty to turn from shared, longer-run concerns to idiosyncratic, immediate concerns.  The colleagues cannot serve the contestants unless audience members for "Drama Queen of the Day" are moved to accommodate the proclaimed long-suffering colleague with applause recognizing just how put-upon the contestant "truly" is.  If the attention of colleagues can be misdirected and "micro-focused," the utter speciousness or absurdity of claims will slip the minds of the least savvy, most collegial minds -- especially if those unwary minds espy a way to share in swag to which drama queens are laying claim.
     
How can the drama queens embarrass themselves for whatever small change they can thereby secure? The drama queens cannot embarrass themselves.  They cannot be embarrassed.  They are unembarrassable.  How could they be drama queens if they could be embarrassed?  How can we suppose that drama queens even see what spectacles they make of themselves for such paltry prizes?
       
I suppose, rather, that the prizes that contestants secure even if they do not win the sash and scepter of "Queen for a Day" drive contestants to abase [but not to embarrass] themselves.  Like President Trump, they get to imagine that any fable is justified if it draws the attention and sympathy.  More, contestants get to hold the floor before a captive audience to tell stories about their maladies and misfortunes.  [Remember Zeena Frome?]  Such maladies and misfortunes are currency that excuses shortcomings past, present, and future.  Excuses that yield sympathy, no matter how bogus its generation, are resources for securing promotion [including, of course, self-promotion].
     
So pity colleagues who abase themselves for symbolic or other payoffs.  To steal from Janis Ian, remember that those who win "Queen for a Day" lose the respect they hoped to gain "in debentures of quality and dubious integrity."  Better for themselves if they could be embarrassed, for then they would not embarrass themselves.  They cannot be embarrassed.  Hence, they embarrass themselves without seeing what they demean and devalue in pursuit of one pittance or another.  Steel yourself if you read The Wah-Wah Bar or listen at faculty meetings [a. k. a., The Buffalo Chip Throw] for weepy warbling of "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen."  But do not steal from the institution or the faculty resources to assuage troubles nobody knows because those troubles exist only in the minds of self-serving snivellers.
     
Since so many of the contenders for the title "Queen for a Day" have offices in Wyatt Hall, do not wonder that I have called Wyatt Hall "The Whinery" for some time.


* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wah-Wah_(song)
   
Cf. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVKHc9eRv3w