Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Flowers for Cassandra

 And here, man, here ’s the wreath I ’ve made
’Tis not a gift that’s worth the taking,
  But wear it and it will not fade.
A.    E. Housman A Shropshire Lad, XLIV
{Please note that I invoked these lines at the end of my farewell to Wayne Rickoll}

I write in praise of Professor Cassandra, my colleague of 32 years who is retiring but never was shy.  I called my friend Cassandra because so often my buddy foresaw the future and forecast what other faculty at the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996] refused to believe could happen.  Even after what Cassandra had foreshadowed came to pass, colleagues refused to believe what had happened.  Thus was Cassandra twice-cursed:  like mythical Cassandra possessed of the power of prophesy but disbelieved;  beyond mythical Cassandra given to accurate recollection but disregarded.

Cassandra was honest and honorable.  Honesty and honor are rare among the Puget clowns but not on that account treasured.  Puget clowns prefer colleagues who are sycophants, some born, most bred, and not a few broken.  Cassandra was not a Puget clown.

My favorite reminiscence of Professor Cassandra is the time Cassandra slammed books into a pile, proclaimed, “Fuck it!” [¡Haltom’s First Law!], and stormed out of a meeting of the doggedly feckless, desperately faithless, deliberately factless Faculty Senate.  The senators in flagrante delicto had been fussing again, as always striving to find a way to seem to care about but not to do anything about the demise of junior faculty, especially junior faculty denied tenure for teaching while being female.  Professor Cassandra had seen such dawdling duplicity too often and the immediate rehearsal was too much to bear.
A prissy senator, Dr. Pecksniff, the day after the senate meeting faulted Dr. Cassandra for so rudely interrupting the dithering of posturers and pretenders.  I opined that the provocations were more than sufficient to drive one to profanity.  Dr. Prissy Pecksniff could not agree for, as despicable cowards do, Professor Pecksniff clung to the civility and decorum that tend to incapacitate institutions and institutionalized alike.  For Professor Pecksniff as for so many Puget clowns, injustices were to be lamented loudly while the Cahulawassee River [James Dickey] formed another Lake of Oblivioncalling it "another Lake Jocassee" [likewise from James Dickey's Deliverance] might be reckoned waggish or bookish or both—over colleagues strangled and tossed aside.  Those who recalled what departments and the Faculty Advancement Committee and administrators had done would soon shut their mouths or drown.  Soon faculty and campus would resume insisting—as a colleague did in a recent plenary meeting of the faculty—that The Faculty Code and the Faculty Advancement Committee [FAC] had insured that promotion and tenure at this university would never be gendered.  [Yes, and the check is in the mail, I’ll respect you in the morning, and I won’t cum in your mouth.]

After years battling injustices, Cassandra gave up on the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996].  Dr. Cassandra did not give up all at once.  I hold it a testament to integrity and perseverance that Cassandra did not surrender sooner.  Swimming against the river and the lake for a third of a century is a challenge.  Cassandra gave up on faculty governance, but not until Cassandra had chaired the Faculty Senate and tried, mightily but unsuccessfully, to get the FAC to follow the faculty’s bylaws.  [It took more than eight years to get the FAC to conform minimally to the bylaws.]  Cassandra gave up on more than one department, but not before Cassandra used a named chair to try to build some camaraderie.  Cassandra never gave up on the students.  Thus did Cassandra die to the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996] in segments yet preserve what matters most—the students.

Cassandra was hired by and into a department that, like Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon, would be what it used to be.  That is, over Cassandra’s 35 years the department ticked up then dissolved into the mediocrity of years before.  When Dr. Cassandra arrived, the department was at best desultory.  Male faculty stalked and preyed upon students.  This or that professor kept in his departmental desk a flask of booze or a Playboy with snapshots of a colleague.  This honored [full] professor was provided a named chair despite his having offered the world no refereed publication.  [I am certain he has in his long retirement polished the manuscript he always spoke of – LOL.]  A departmental colleague admitted that the celebrated intellectual knew “the first line of every book ever published” but wondered if the celebrated intellectual knew any other lines of any other books.  A formerly respected [full] professor helped to found “Women Against Women Academics” [WAWA] to defend predators against rumors that, Professor Wawa insisted, had been found unfounded [and this enabler did so until the worst predator confessed to Professor Wawa].  Another colleague was already counting the years and days until retirement.  I have more reminiscences, but you get the picture of what greeted Cassandra in the 1980s and into the 1990s.

From time to time the department seemed to improve in the 1990s, albeit that newbies who committed too much candor were driven from the department or discovered that even lesser schools sported lesser and fewer vices.  Some of the newcomers denounced a professor who battered an undergraduate.  Other untenured folk thought it unseemly that a senior colleague forged academic credentials.  Professor Cassandra rejoiced that superior faculty joined Cassandra’s department and other departments and reveled that such notable improvements were not the butt-kissers and bootlicks and steaming frauds recruited by the crime family in the House of Reptiles [Jones Hall].  Cassandra deemed it miraculous that, unlike the scammers and schemers who had conspired with The House of Reptiles to run and to ruin departments and the university prior to Cassandra’s coming, the newer toadies were spurned by the better sort of faculty.  Alas, Cassandra lamented that talented tyros impervious to patronage [perhaps because they realized how little The House of Reptiles offered or delivered to genuinely talented teachers or publishers] could not be bought or even rented and so must be driven out.  If they committed candor in faculty meetings, refused to join or to excuse WAWA, or otherwise did not indulge the liturgy of respectable, sensitive colleagues who emoted regret at yet another colleague’s unjustified, unjustifiable denial of promotion, tenure, or swag, the improved younger faculty must go.

Thus Cassandra saw the inexorable Darwinian logic propagate Puget clowns within the department and across the university.  By the 21st century self-promoting prima donnas and self-serving operators replaced teachers and publishers. As a result student-centered activities defined the worth of faculty less and less.  Cassandra could not hold back the tide of whiners as Wyatt Hall became the Whinery.  It was all Cassandra could do to preserve the jobs of instructors who were among the best teachers or publishers or both in the department.  [By some coincidence, these were with a single exception women.]  A department that had progressed regressed to its prior mean mean.  A writing component that so enriched the curriculum and populated the department with majors was dishonored and discarded.  Writing instructors diminished in influence and respect.  Fatigued with what we might politely term “procedural irregularities” [because “corruptions,” while accurate, is so unkind], Cassandra retired from a once bustling undergraduate department as it faded to a boutique.

Cassandra sought asylum in African American Studies [AAS].  Cassandra had helped to found AAS, which at its beginning was about aspiration more than branding, education more than self-promotion, and social justice more than marketing.  Cassandra focused on teaching and rediscovered the joy of shrugging off burdens of deception and pretense and grandiloquent badinage in favor of inducing students to see and to discern and to think.  Having come back around to teaching as Cassandra had foreseen it, Cassandra declared victory and left the slog to the Puget clowns.  “Smart lad, to slip betimes away /  From fields where glory does not stay. /”  Housman, A Shropshire Lad, XXXII

Note well that Cassandra did not slip away before serving two African American students in a characteristic manner.  While “the UPS Three” incited an ill-considered, risible letter that dozens of thoughtless faculty were eager to sign, and even as the Division of Student Affairs was conducting a kangaroo court against three students, two of whom were African American, Cassandra served the students rather than mentors turned tormentors.  One final time Cassandra spoke truth to power, both the power of administrators mad with authority and appearances and the power of a faculty mob.  Cassandra declined to cultivate the strange fruit that administrators and faculty harvested.  www.bing.com/search?q=strange%20fruit%20poem&pc=cosp&ptag=G6C999N1234D010518A316A5D3C6E&form=CONBDF&conlogo=CT3210127

I have not bothered with Cassandra’s curriculum vitae.  As Cassandra fades from institutional recollection, the collective CV of the department that hired Cassandra drops by at least half.  Anyone who sees irony in that has not yet apprehended the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996].  Cassandra, being an actual scholar who published, resembled amid the College of Puget Clowns Chesterton’s donkey:  “The tattered outlaw of the earth, /  . . .  Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, /  I keep my secret still.”

Good thing Professor Cassandra kept secret still, for Robinson Jeffers tells us what becomes of truth-tellers: 
The mad girl with the staring eyes and long white fingers
Hooked in the stones of the wall,
The storm-wrack hair and screeching mouth: does it matter, Cassandra,
Whether the people believe
Your bitter fountain? Truly men hate the truth, they'd liefer
Meet a tiger on the road.

Therefore the poets honey their truth with lying; but religion-
Vendors and political men
Pour from the barrel, new lies on the old, and are praised for kind
 Poor bitch be wise.

No: you'll still mumble in a corner a crust of truth, to men
And gods disgusting—you and I, Cassandra.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Emeritus Rickoll

For Wayne Rickoll’s birthday I compose the following entry.  Wayne should be by now emeritus professor at the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996].  That he should be does not, of course, mean that he is.  At the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996], oughts amount to aren’ts as often as to ares.
When I met him on the “Academic” “Standards” Committee [© William Haltom 1992] in the early 1990s, Associate Professor Rickoll fit my stereotype of scientists in academia.  He was logical, straightforward, candid, unassuming, professional, honest, and humble.  He expected evidence to bolster contentions.  He expected colleagues to bend to the weight of what evidence was available and to speculate only after available evidence was exhausted.  More important, he expected colleagues to admit honestly and forthrightly when they ventured beyond what they knew into what they wished.  The “Academic” “Standards” Committee [© William Haltom 1992] would dash those expectations for Associate Professor Rickoll as it has and had for so many faculty.  Still, Associate Professor Rickoll adjusted slowly.  He was adapting to his clown niche but unprepared to become a clown himself.
Hence, Associate Professor Rickoll did not expect the committee to transmogrify into chimpanzee feces-fights.  As members of the committee molded presumptions, anecdotes, and absurdities to suit the interests and limbic systems of colleagues and departments and administrators and staff but mostly them­selves, Dr. Rickoll would lower his brows, lower his expectations, and serve out his sentence.  What passed for arguments at “Disney Does Dartmouth” [© Diana Marre 1991] featured prominently on lists of fallacies at Dart­mouth, Dr. Rickoll knew, for he had taught at Dartmouth.  [To have taught at an actual university, of course, is advantageous and disadvantageous.] The head administrator—or, from the point of view of faculty self-governance, chief administraitor—on the “Academic” “Standards” Committee [© William Haltom 1992] would insinuate the preferences of Jones Hall as some “will of the faculty” that he conjured ad hoc.  Accommodating members of the committee—i.e., clowns-in-training—would then accede and defer to the administration as long as the concocted “will of the faculty” did not interfere with their individual or departmental whims.  Dr. Rickoll, unpracticed in the arts of deception [© Jagger-Richards 1968], did not understand academia as subordination or subornation of faculty and so did not suffer the committee gladly.
As the “Academic” “Standards” Committee [© William Haltom 1992] would pass something “new” and call it a policy then undo the “new” policy at its next meeting, Wayne Rickoll got his education in Puget Clowning.  It did not suit well any person who saw science as pursuit of knowledge and truth.  That it did suit so many scientists who passed through the “Academic” “Standards” Committee [© William Haltom 1992] like greasy hash augured ill for Dr. Rickoll.  For social scientists and especially humanists, of course, clowning required less adaptation from their classroom and, to go a little hypothetical in most cases, their researches.
Dr. Rickoll even endured nobly annual discussions of the “Academic” “Standards” Committee [© William Haltom 1992] around [and around and around . . .] “grade inflation” in which the decanal cutout would piously warn of evils not one of which he could substantiate.  Members of the committee would strut poses down the rhetorical runway, dramatizing their own rigor and thereby alerting all savvy witnesses that they assigned grades instrumentally.  Instead of “I’m Too Sexy,” developing clowns regaled the committee with “I’m Too Exacting” [among other shtick].  After each self-parodist had been self-serving for a sufficient time, the “Academic” “Standards” Committee [© William Haltom 1992] would rediscover its inability to do anything about grade inflation.  That inability masked unwillingness and lack of imagination, so it was for most on the committee a good.  For Wayne Rickoll it was a puzzling waste of time unworthy of serious professionals.  Professor Rickoll did not yet realize how short the supply of professionals was and would continue to be at the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996].  Associate Professor Rickoll was not adept at statistics and admitted it, so he did not get to participate in self-parody in the manner of journeymen and journeywomen clowns who demonstrated the arithmetic they never quite mastered.  Still, Associate Professor Rickoll persisted and persevered in his laboratory and his classrooms.
Having arrived in the early 1990s as colleagues were denied tenure for their gender or for conforming to law or for other “local” sins, Associate Professor Rickoll was as perplexed by unprofessional evaluation as he was by unprofessional committee-work.  For Professor Rickoll as for the few other honest colleagues at our clown college, evaluation and promotion of colleagues presented the most puzzlement and eventually cynicism and fatalism over subsequent years.  Trained incapacities [Thorstein Veblen 1933—posthumously, which is of course when I expect publications from some leading lights of the university] of evaluators to follow rules, procedures, and sensible, decent practices enervated Professor Rickoll even as it energized scheming clowns [who would never measure up to standards and criteria except by making themselves useful to administrators and senior evaluators].  Evaluation practices and sometimes even procedures reflected studied avoidance of documents and records and any other verifiable evidence offended Professor Rickoll as it should offend others who call themselves scientists.  Willful, fanciful exaggeration of anecdotes into evidence seemed to Professor Rickoll the very opposite of intellectual honesty.  Other dark arts of preserving the College of Sleepy Hollow against minorities [or, in the case, of women, the majority of the population and a growing majority of undergraduates] impressed and depressed Professor Rickoll.  Professor Rickoll believed in science and in method and in disciplined evidence and logical inference, in the advancement of knowledge, and other practices that were, at his previous billets, less hopelessly idealistic than at the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996].  At the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996] such practices were professed piously at meetings, enshrined unreservedly in official documents, and invoked fulsomely at deliberations—so-called because calumnies and injustices were slow-paced cluster-fucks—but were elsewhere gag lines at which sophisticated, fully corrupted clowns hooted their derision.  Thus did Professor Rickoll’s honesty and decency mark him as unworthy of the clown college at which he was employed.  Yet in his classroom and in his laboratory Professor Rickoll persisted.  He had been warned, yet he persisted.
Professor Rickoll opposed hypocrisy and pretense, so in meetings of committees, of faculty, and of his department he decried those whom he labeled “face men.”  These poseurs saluted research that they seldom or never designed or executed.  These philosophasters feigned erudition they neither possessed nor fathomed.  These campus legends, in the words of another truth-teller hired in the 1990s who escaped the clown college rather than degrade himself, “knew the first sentences of everything ever published but nothing else.”  These hardliners inveighed against colleagues’ holding students’ hands while they themselves were spoon-feeding students blather that served more to glorify instructors than to instruct students.  Professor Rickoll came to see that campus became infested with imposters and phonies whenever the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996] even pretended to virtues elsewhere deemed axiomatic.
Distinguished Professor Rickoll came to expect but never to accept corruptions from evaluation of colleagues at the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996], which impeded his own decay into clownishness.  He could not believe me, for example, when I told him about the Faculty Advancement Committee Dispensation.  The FAC, the committee that recommends promotion and tenure, has long and often double-secretly conferred on its recent graduates immunity from strictures that those recent graduates had deployed against others while on the FAC.  No standard or criterion could be so explicit as to bind those who had just cycled off to measure up on formal, official merits, any more that departmental statements could induce evaluating departments to obey their own rules however clear.  Those who demanded rigor insistently when evaluating others need never practice rigor in their own teaching, research, or service [let alone in all three!].  The FAC alum need only flash a Cheshire grin and recy­cle some excuses at which the alum had scoffed a year before to complete just one of the FAC’s unwritten contracts of depravity [© Sidney Carroll and Robert Rossen 1961].  Distinguished Professor Rickoll was not fooled and not amused.  He remained a stereotypic scientist:  straightforward, candid, and honest.  Honesty, candor, and forthrightness, of course, generally profit one at the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996] only if one is going along with some joke.  Instead, Distinguished Professor Rickoll’s virtues, not forsaken in order to secure tenure and promotion, made him gag at the joke.  Indeed, gagging on the joke, Distinguished Professor Rickoll grew ever more dyspeptic about contracts of depravity he was expected to honor and execute.  Distinguished Professor Rickoll was too decent to prosper or even to abide at the clown college.
Being acquainted with demonstrable reality, Distinguished Professor Rickoll came to understand, was the ordinary state neither of the “Academic” “Standards” Committee nor of plenary meetings of faculty who put the “clowns” into the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996].  To be competent pretenders, of course, preening, grifting posers would have to acquaint themselves with the actual and the concrete.  That they never did so acquaint themselves with reality meant that they could seldom be competent pretenders, which in turn further enmeshed “respectable,” “responsible,” “reliable,” and “reputable” faculty in deceptions and delusions.  Dr. Rickoll immersed himself in his researches and in his classes, finding in his laboratory and in his classroom the pursuit of truth and dedication to honesty by which he defined academia.  The carnival of buncombe [Mencken 2006] proceeded without him and without his lab and his classes. 
Like Juli MacGruder, Bill Lyne, Dash Goodman, and a few others whom I shall salute when they retire or escape and are safe from association with me, Emeritus Distinguished Professor Wayne refused to become a clown and disdained to be clowned. 
I adapt from A. E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad  XLIV:
Right you guessed the rising morrow
And scorned to tread the mire you must:
Dust's your wages, son of sorrow,
But men may come to worse than dust.
Souls undone, undoing others,--
Long time since that tale began.
You would not live to wrong your brothers:
Oh lad, you retired as fits a man.

Now to NOLA shall friend and colleague
With ruth and some with envy come:
Undishonored, clear of danger,
Clean of guilt, pass hence and home.

Turn safe to rest, no dreams, no waking;
And here, man, here's the wreath I've made:
'Tis not a gift that's worth the taking,
But wear it and it will not fade.

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."