Yesterday, I wrote the first in a series of posts about IVC’s “civility initiative,” an effort by IVC President Glenn Roquemore (?) to address a range of campus issues that, as we saw yesterday, apparently include episodes and situations that are darker than is implied by the word “incivility.”
Roquemore’s initiative commenced with a December “workshop” comprising about twenty members of the campus community (including four faculty and five classified). According to a subsequent REPORT (see yesterday's post), among the worrisome situations or episodes cited by the participants were
- perceived acts of retaliation or retribution
- conduct inspiring fear
- failures to respect others and to treat them with kindness
- shouting and threats
- passive-aggressive behavior
Another perceived problem noted in the workshop is still further from anything one would be inclined to call “incivility.” A high priority for the group was problems with transparency (i.e., prevailing opacity) in college processes. Somehow, said the group, significant information was not being communicated—presumably by top administration.
It is easier to see how administrative opacity might be linked to failures of respect. Perhaps the (or “a”) problem at the college is that an “insider” group essentially runs the college behind closed doors. Now, at an institution that forever trumpets its alleged “transparency” and “shared governance,” that reality can feel like a slap in the face.
Maybe the problem is that there are certain persons with authority at IVC who are ruthless or officious or autocratic with those whom they regard as "underlings." Such people are disrespectful and lacking in kindness, right?
But I wouldn’t call that phenomenon “insufficient transparency,” would you?
I’m getting to think that the workshop’s participants weren’t quite comfortable enough at the workshop (see below) to be completely forthcoming. If there is unkindness, disrespect, and intimidation, then, necessarily, there are persons who are unkind, disrespectful, and intimidating. Right?
Just who are they? If the workshop provided a “safe harbor” to speak one's mind, why weren’t these people identified? (And if they were, why don't their names appear in the report?)
having or showing no pity or compassion for others*
officious |əˈfi sh əs|
assertive of authority in an annoyingly domineering way, esp. with regard to petty or trivial matters*
|John Spevak/College Brain Trust|
Perhaps so. It is worth noting, however, the indications of non-unanimity that can be found in these data about the grand success of the event, particularly with regard to who was allowed to participate. (The group was of course dominated by administrators/managers. See REPORT.)
Participants were asked to state what they liked about the workshop. Among the participants, some said they felt comfortable being honest, the facilitator seemed to know what he was doing, etc.
Here were their suggestions for improvement:
· No suggestions; the program was well organized and plannedThe “range of participants” issue came up under “other comments” as well:
· A bit more time spent on case studies
· Time to sketch out an actionable plan to move forward (measurable)
· Expand this training to the campus as a whole: faculty, staff, and students
· I’d like to have seen more people from the campus involved—faculty and students—although the smaller scale did facilitate excellent discussion
· Continue with small groups of meetings like this one; provide a report to the whole college about our retreat; and then allow the president and VPs in a school/department meeting during the semester to collect/listen to information/concerns from the retreat
· Suggest even better student participation; more students
· Use “hearts” instead of dots; more coffee
· More students; more guests from outside college—diversity of experiences and opinions
· Continued workshops, discussions
· Role playing; acting out possible scenarios
· I would add a few more folks into the mix from the college. [My italics & emphases.]
- [Next time:] Include all participants for entire process rather than having an “in” group and others
- [Next time:] More students would have added to discussion; the one student who we had was excellent—we should have worked harder to ensure their participation
In tomorrow's post, we'll note indications that Roquemore and Co. mean to push this thing through without further messy input from the academic hoi polloi and that they hope to enshrine this stuff in a board policy.
And will they thereby try to enforce their notion of "civility"?
*From my Mac's dictionary
adjective -- of or relating to a ruler who has absolute power : the constitutional reforms threatened his autocratic power.• taking no account of other people's wishes or opinions; domineering : an autocratic management style.*