Tuesday, February 21, 2012

IVC: Waking up with a horse head in your classroom

Mute, menacing
     Last week, I heard from a colleague here at Irvine Valley College who told the following story: he was teaching, and he was in the middle of a difficult lecture when, all of a sudden, four young men entered his classroom, each of them immediately establishing himself in some part of the room. One of them—the one at the back of the room, I think—wore a mask. It was a horse mask.
     Naturally, my instructor friend was taken aback and more than a little annoyed. Clearly peeved, he asked these young men to identify themselves.
     In response, they said nothing. Absolutely nothing. They did nothing. At one point, one of them attempted to make a phone call.
     Many of us, I’m sure, would find in this circumstance a reason for concern. Alarm even. But the friend, a bold fellow, just got pissed and insisted that the young men leave. Eventually, they did. He escorted them out the door. He tried to pull off the one kid's horse mask. No luck—the kids trotted off.
     Wow.
     Later, it came to light that this “invasion of mute assholes” phenomenon has occurred elsewhere on campus. It is by no means an isolated incident. The phenomenon is, I've been told, the result of an assignment given to students in a Sociology course—something about violating social norms and then seeing what happens.
Liz Cipres: her usual level
of competence
     Usually, a friend tells me, this sort of assignment yields such undramatic adventures as staring at the wall in an elevator or just sitting on the floor. —But not entering classrooms with masks. Horse masks. And then refusing to answer. Refusing to leave. That's menacing.
     The instructor friend eventually came into contact with the head Sociology instructor on campus, who wrote him an email. I read it. I don’t know what my friend made of it, but it struck me as condescending. The gist of the email seemed to be, "we can't be blamed if some of our students don't follow our guidelines when completing this assignment." She listed these guidelines. They were clearly of the CYA variety—you know, "don't do it at the college," where, of course, a student's inappropriate behavior might produce ripples that come back to faculty.
     Such an email! I'd be pissed anew.
     Eventually, the matter came to the attention of Liz Cipres, Dean of Counseling Services, who took on the matter with her usual level of competence. Among other things, she suggested that instructors could lock their classroom doors.
     I'm not making this up. That's what she suggested.
     Has something like this happened in one of your classes?
     What is one to make of these disruptive Mute Asshole phenomena—and the assignments that inspire them? And what is one to make of the Sociology Dept's CYA and hand-washing moves?
* * *
     I've decided to be helpful. Based on extensive research, I’ve constructed a handy guide for students who wish to fulfill this assignment. What follows are cool and UNCOOL attempts. Let them be your guide:

FULFILLING THE ASSIGNMENT TO VIOLATE SOCIAL NORMS (BUT NOT AT THE COLLEGE WHERE I COULD GET MY SOCIOLOGY INSTRUCTOR IN TROUBLE):

• Entering Ralphs, then buying your Wheaties in the nude: cool


• Wearing a Scream mask, going to Grandma’s house, ringing the doorbell, and then, when she opens the door, screaming and making threatening gestures: uncool


• A guy (not in Scotland) showing up to church in a cute dress: cool


• A guy showing up to his pro-life, right-wing friend’s birthday party, then gifting said friend with that Beatles album that has the notorious “dead babies” cover: uncool


Etc.

69 comments:

  1. This behavior is just plain uncivil! You go get'em Roy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is exactly what people have been talking about - we have policies on the books but they are not observed and often, very often, not enforced. In fact, people seem to resent you if you ask them to abide by them or enforce them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I saw these idiots in the IVC cafeteria running around the tables starring at students eating lunch and then running off.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You would think at least the college would respond to possible liability issues. I can imagine as scenarios where students engaging in this kind of oddly menacing behavior - which, coupled with a failure to communicate - could put themselves and others in danger. If this happened in my classroom, I'd call 911 first before the campus police.

    Don't we have a policy that prohibits people not enrolled in classes from entering rooms when classes are in session?

    The response from the administration is not only inadequate (lock your classroom door!?!) but is insulting and dismissive.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I suggest they disrupt their sociology classes and leave the rest of us out of it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Exercising poor judgment, disrupting a class, alarming students - all that and more is not quite "taking an interest in their education."

    In these days of heightened awareness of violence on campus this kind of behavior goes beyond "taking an interest" or even a college prank.

    It's students using their homework as an opportunity to act out it the worst way.

    I'd like to see what campus police has to say about this one.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Someone needs to take some responsibility somewhere, sometime. What's wrong with people?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sometimes it might be nice if someone simply said "Whoa, that's out of line. That shouldn't be happening. That's wrong. Let's see what we can do to address this so your students and staff and faculty aren't subject to this kind of behavior."

    I agree that this kind of behavior while most likely promulgated by some figurative jackasses could be problematic on OR off-campus, inviting a potentially violent response. Would IVC or the instructor be liable if something went wrong and a student was hurt or a person overreacted?

    One can only imagine the press.

    ReplyDelete
  9. By the way, I heard of this happening in TWO classes last week.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yes, at moments like these, it would be nice to have a more responsive, more supportive response from administration. Often one feels we are an imposition when we ask for assistance - assistance, min you, that is their purview, their bailiwick, not ours. It would be nice to imagine we are in this together, working together. Some people get discouraged from filing incident reports because frankly there is little response and consistently, the sense that one is an imposition. This doesn't make for a good atmosphere in which to teach or work.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "lock the door"?

    What kind of advice is that?

    That's the equivalent of Bayer aspirin as birth control.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The response is another an example about how our concerns are treated with utmost respect and professionalism. This in turns builds a community of trust and mutual respect and compassion.

    ReplyDelete
  13. So many people who work here have no common sense. How do these people make it in our society?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Horse mask! Those students should have waved a concrete block above their head and said it was their freedom of speech. I am sure that is much more acceptable.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Welcome to the Roy Bauer miniverse. Where the mission statement is to have no mission at all, where hypocrisy and irrational thought is pervasive, where 99% of the responses are Roy Bauer’s and 100% of the people who care is Bauer.

    Your legacy my friend is a superior who believed you had anger issues and thought you needed a psyc evaluation. Now you see the world through these lenses.

    Generativity is waiting for you.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Truly bizarre, and remarkably stupid behavior by the horse-headed numbskulls. Do they have any idea of current climate, sensibilities, and events in the post 9/11 world? Apparently not.

    Of course their instructor should take the horse-headed ones to task if and when they turn in a report on their dumb-ass experiment.

    And of course your administrators should have responded in a vastly different, more helpful way. The response makes me think of people who respond to rape by advising women to stay indoors. (No, it's not *identical*. It's analogous.) 'Ya don't respond to bad behavior by restricting the victims' freedoms.

    MAH

    ReplyDelete
  17. It's a good idea to lock your door, just in case horse-headed mad men decide to infiltrate your classroom.

    So stupid for so many reasons.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I expect students to make poor decisions but not administrators. That's disappointing.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Did the administrator in question go on the civility retreat?

    ReplyDelete
  20. This sounds like an opportunity for the president to step in and suggest that things have gone wrong and attempt to resolve it. I agree - serious trust issues have been building with that one administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  21. It was foolish for the students to enter the class with masks, dangerous as well. How would adjuncts lock the classroom door?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Actually only SOME classroom doors can lock from the inside, not all.

    I am not aware of a directive that tells instructors they should, as a matter of course, lock their classroom door from the inside once classes begin.

    I am sure that the IVC police department might have something to say about that.

    ReplyDelete
  23. 5:50, no, Liz was not on the committee. The report lists these "managers" as attending the workshop: David Bugay,
    Bruce Hagan,
    Davit Khachatryan,
    Diane Oaks,
    Glenn Roquemore, and
    Keith Shackleford;

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have to agree with 2:00. Bvt should get some professional help so he can get over all his past issues and hopfully move forward into the next chapter of his life.

    "Just get over it!" (Betty white for AARP).

    ReplyDelete
  25. Ya know, someone made a dumb mistake, a bad judgement call. For you to then attempt to pin it all on Liz, belittle and demean her on your electronic rag, is downright uncollegiate and unprofessional. We know your M.O. has been to attack hirees of the past admin as incompetent, but this sinks to a new low, bvt.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Bvt ought to check himself into a good Horsepital, like Saddleback.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Please don't feed the trolls--the bitter, and evidently illiterate trolls.

    ReplyDelete
  28. If you flame someone, use their real name, not their comic book name. BvT is a fantasy name to avert responsibility and blame. The fact that the comments refer to R. Bauer as BvT makes me believe Bauer is trolling himself which really expresses the depth of his delusion.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Please don't feed the daft conspiracy theorist/troll

    ReplyDelete
  30. oh, angry troll, bitter troll, troll who hits the same notes each time - then don't read the blog then. Write your own.

    This blog has a readership, always has, some 200 or so hits a day - fueled mostly by the absence of information and discourse in other places.

    ReplyDelete
  31. But the troll is so hungry!

    ReplyDelete
  32. So your defense to psychological issues and to essentially being the only person responding to your blog is that you get about 200 hits a day. I will accept that answer.

    Please continue. Maybe your alter ego BvT or your imaginary anon readers will defend you.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Let's not feed the troll, folks.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I"d rather be a troll than a smerf.

    ReplyDelete
  35. It's a well known fact that people who suffer from phychological problens are always in denial.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Namely trolls who need a psych evaluation I suspect.

    ReplyDelete
  37. You know, folks, spell check can be your friend. Back to the original issue...

    The students who entered the room put themselves in harm's way, disrupted a class, and most likely negatively affected some of the occupants of said class. What if this event had transformed into a violent incident? Is IVC or Saddleback ready to respond?

    ReplyDelete
  38. Gee, I wonder what Rosemary Woods or Monica Luenski would think about this.

    ReplyDelete
  39. If you ask me, Liz is in the wrong biz.
    And get off BvT's case. He is doing us a public service here. You don't like it, don't read it.

    ReplyDelete
  40. While this horse head incident seem like poor judgment on the part of students and poor response upon the part of their teacher - we have had a steady influx of students who behaviors are challenging to handle in the classroom - and the support from the admin has been inconsistent to disheartening to worse. I expect support when I ask who I am supposed to ask for it - not be told to lock my door or that the problem doesn't exist. These students affect the learning environment of other students as well.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I have been curious as to why disciplinary matters are handled by the Dean of Counseling and not a VP. It seems odd for all sorts of reasons.

    The reaction to this latest case should alarm everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I have been following your blog from afar and after this post I find myself thoroughly confused. I think this incident highlights the difficulties administration face in managing faculty. You recently wrote about a civility movement, which seemed to be an attempt to create a framework for professional behavior and discipline those who disrupt. Who in your estimation, should be disciplined in this recent horse head incident; students, who were merely carrying out their assignment, or the faculty who wrote the curriculum and lesson plan (10 plus 1)?

    ReplyDelete
  43. I think you're too far away.

    this isn't about "civility" - it's about judgment - and yes, administrative response to poor judgment.

    By the way, Cipres was once dean over Library Services - why was she moved out of that area? The library is now thriving.

    ReplyDelete
  44. 2:54, I'm not sure they need to be "disciplined," but those students need to understand that they can't disrupt classes as they did. Their behavior was outrageous. The faculty who "caused" this behavior (if such is the case) need to understand what students are doing, owing to their assignments. It's not enough to say that students didn't understand. The dean is a notorious incompetent, and it says a lot about President Roquemore that, despite her endless manifest incompetence, she still has a job at the college.
    The "civility" project was most directly initiated by the Chancellor, who was responding to Accreditation pressures. Those pressures stem from an era of abuse that has largely passed, for most of that abuse flowed from the scheming and autocratic Chancellor Raghu P. Mathur (supported by the bullying anti-intellectualists Fuentes and Wagner). But Mathur's been gone for about two years. Roquemore is a very poor manager and has allowed some administrators under him to abuse their power (bullying). It is possible that he is clueless about that. Either way, he's a bad administrator. That the trustees seem not to have a clue about all this tells you what you need to know about them. I like the Chancellor, but he's attempting to change the direction of a lumbering battleship, and that takes time. I wonder, though, if he knows what the college's employees actually think of top administration at IVC. Maybe he should come to campus and drop by a few offices.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I’d like to add obsessed to psychological issues.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Bauer from a convalescent home… “Damn you Mathooor! I wanted apple sauce!” It sounds funny but I’ve seen similar, no joking.

    I’m starting to feel sorry for you Bauer. Professional help might really be in your best interest.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I too was curious how the Dean of Counseling becomes the arbiter of student discipline. Generally it is handled by a VP of Student Affairs or something. Was this the result of the reorganization so many years ago? It seems like an odd alignment unless the person in that role has a special expertise ans training - even then, it's problematic. What if that specially trained person moves into another position? See?

    When was Library split from Counseling? It is true that the library is really coming together now. Years went by when I couldn't use it.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I agree with BvT. Rocky has always been a nice guy. Sort of the man in the grey flannel suit, make no waves type. He is responsible, however, for what the current VPI is doing to this sweet little college. Doing nothing is doing wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  49. The former library would require its own story. Talk about liability and oversight - and who rubber-stamped that fiasco for years until it became untenable?

    ReplyDelete
  50. my friend told me about this blog. this experiment is interesting. its like the time in civil rights when people were racist and did not like people that were different but they didn’t do anything wrong. like the horse mask that did not talk. he was just weird to everyone and people created mobs. This is sad because the teacher that tried to pull mask off assaulted the student (so my dad say).

    Why was my post deleted?

    ReplyDelete
  51. OK 10:10, we'll do it your way.
    This is not a blog for thirteen-year-olds. Go to bed.

    ReplyDelete
  52. For any disciplinary action to occur, an incident report form needs to be submitted. Has the instructor submitted such a form? It is easy to blame the administration, when in reality faculty share the responsibility of following procedures. 

    ReplyDelete
  53. I think some have given up on the filing of Incident Reports. I can't blame them.

    ReplyDelete
  54. It seems to me that by being told "to lock the door" the faculty member was discouraged from filing an incident report.

    ReplyDelete
  55. 10:10, that's how this blog works. Posts that don't fall in line with the agenda get deleted. The agenda is an us against them zero sum game played by PC progressive elitists with too much time on their hands. They don't have any sort of mission other than to find controversy and run with it. In the process they congratulate each other, a pat yourself on the back-fest, if you will. That's about it.

    ReplyDelete
  56. 9:48, I do believe that an incident report was filed.

    11:20, you say that "Posts that don't fall in line with the agenda get deleted." That's obviously false (look at this string of comments alone). I have explained why I delete some comments repeatedly, but some people don't read well, I guess.
    Last night, I deleted the comment of some clueless kid who told us what his dad thinks (sans argument). First, I deleted it, but the stupid kid simply posted it again.
    Vacuous and otherwise worthless comments diminish the quality of the blog. I remove them.
    Once again: we welcome comments from those who disagree with us--we have always done so--but we insist that comments be well-reasoned, not just naked assertions or insults.
    Further, one must actually have something to say. The view that one should tolerate strangers wearing masks, entering a classroom, refusing to leave, and otherwise disrupting a lecture is beyond the pale.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I do believe there is a phone in every class. Why didn't the professor just dial 911?

    ReplyDelete
  58. Yes, the cops would've been there in 30 seconds. This way the professor wouldn't have to get involved. Why not let the pros handle it?

    ReplyDelete
  59. Roy, you don't delete these posts because with this topic and its outrageous assertions you know many peeps are watching. Cornered.

    ReplyDelete
  60. 10:10 makes a good point and may not even realize it. We have minority cultures that wear headgear to mask or veil the face and there is controversy over wearing this type of attire. The reaction to the horse mask and the comparison to intolerance is reasonable. If a person was not familiar with a culture or attire it's fair to say the reaction would be similar.

    ReplyDelete
  61. There are some seriously stupid people who write comments into this blog. Really, stunningly stupid.
    1. The kid in the mask could have been a misunderstood religious minority? Horse worshippers who can only worship by standing silently in the middle of an English lecture? Really?
    2. Bauer clearly leaves comments by people who disagree with him all the time. A perusal of old posts makes that clear. "Cornered"? You're a right winger, aren't you? Obama born in Kenya, right?
    3. Obviously, instructors need to think very carefully before calling 911. In fact, they are told never to do that, to call the campus police first. And once that happens, the class is seriously disrupted. Obviously. Any seasoned instructor would seek to defuse the situation first--before calling "the authorities." Once those students refused to answer and refused to leave, it's a judgment call. I can't complain about what the instructor did, but I would have called the campus police and apprised them of the situation, without alarm.

    ReplyDelete
  62. We're not supposed to call 911 when we're on campus. We're supposed to call campus police first.

    ReplyDelete
  63. I couldn’t resist posting after seeing all the comments. I agree with 1:26. 2:35 is just sidestepping the issue. Obviously the individual wearing a horse mask is not a “misunderstood religious minority.” The misunderstanding of a religious minority or religious intolerance requires identifying a religion, this is self evident. The professor and students did not know what to make of a situation with a masked person.

    In this situation the misunderstanding was caused by an unexplainable phenomenon that apparently resulted in aggression toward masked individual. The social ramification of an unexplainable phenomenon, such a person wearing a mask, is the subject of inquiry. But the phenomenon is not limited to a mask. Whether it is race, religion, age, sex, culture, physical or mental disability, the reaction to an individual with an unexplainable attribute or someone different from the group is studied in an experiment like this. It is in fact intolerance being studied, intolerance originating from ignorance, prejudice, and differences between people.

    I have to give credit to 10:10 insight, cudos kid. 10:10 makes a valid point with respect to “mobs.” While the hostility of the professor in question is worth taking note of, Bauer’s attempt to use the incident to fuel an attitude of hate and distrust and to propagate hostility toward administration is very much the essence of the mob mentality.

    I’d like to read the report on the students experiment.

    ReplyDelete
  64. One may be able to use such experiments as studies of intolerance and the masked students may write an interesting report. This did not come without risking the safety of the students who posed as classroom threats and behaving in a perceptibly abnormal and unexplained fashion. Perhaps in a perfect world, yes, everyone could express themselves as they choose. Students could engage freely in sociological studies. I don't think anyone would argue against the importance of understanding the sociology behind intolerance.

    This is not the issue. We are in a post-Columbine, post 9/11 world where teachers are truly vulnerable as are their students to classroom intruders. To not be aware of this fact is both foolish, naive, and unrealistic. To expose a classroom and instructor to this vulnerability was unfair. The callous response of both the sociology professor and the administration is very disconcerting. It seems that many of the commentors on this blog, perhaps as well as administration, need to foster a more empathetic environment and understand the situation the instructor, the students, and even the experimentors were put into. We should also be glad that nothing more serious occurred with this experiment. Administration, at the very least, should think about liability issues. The instructor who created this assignment should think about the way students might perceive their assignment and take responsibility for what happened. Is reading a good report worth disrupting your colleague's class and scaring the hell out of him? If you cannot be civil, at least be emphathetic.

    ReplyDelete
  65. 10:54, thats precisely why I suggested teachers ought to just call the police. Someone else's suggestion was to confront and try to diffuse the situation without involving the police, which I believe would be a serious mistake. Because I expressed an opinion contrary to the mob's empithetic approach, my coment was deleted.

    My arguement was that in situations like this, and especially in a post 911/Columbine/VA Tech, etc... world, one cannot afford empathy; it could cost lives. There are just too many unknowns.

    1. How would the teacher know if these were students or not? The masked people could have come from the outside to do harm.

    2. How should the teacher confront four of them when it's one against four and they are scattered around the room, and not to mention, not knowing if they're armed or not?

    3. When addressed and there's no response, or any communication whatsoever, how is the teacher supposed to handle that?

    For these reasons, I believe the police should have been called immediately. There's a phone in every classroom. It could be done inconspicuously by simply picking up the phone, dialing 911 & placing the phone on the desk, leaving the line open for the police to monitor while they're in transit.

    The police are the professionals in dealing with such situations. Any cop will tell you to never get involved in police matters because it may cost you your life.

    That's just my opinion. Roy, what's so threatening about my opinion that it had to be deleted?

    ReplyDelete
  66. Sometimes posts don't go through even if you think they have. Soemtimes they do disappear for reasons only Blogger knows. I see many references to calling police (though we were only suppsed to call campus security and not 911). You might not be as important as you think you are.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Everyone knows that in a possible life or death situation, you call 911.

    My post did go through. It was posted for about 45 mins, then deleted, so it was no accident.

    Excuse me, but I could care less about whether I'm important or not. Just trying to contribute something of value to this discussion, and it's frustrating that because I don't share the blog mob's empithetic, high risk, but PC approach, my contribution gets deleted. Again, its no accident.

    ReplyDelete
  68. The story has a few errors. From reports I heard one of the perpetrators was identified by a student in the classroom as 'in my sociology class' and this was the source of blaming sociology faculty. None of these students were doing anything for any sociology class or any other class. Norm breaching is not only a common but typical assignment used to illuminate the subtlety of everyday cultural norms; this incident is NOT an example of norm breaching. Two student perpetrators who met with administrators regarding the incident admitted the idea came from a different class but that they used their imaginations to come up with this horsehead skit--very lame and potentially frightening--to see what would happen.
    My advice to any faculty member in this situation is to use the telephone in the classroom to call campus police if there is a safety concern. This is a much better option than erroneously blaming colleagues in another department.

    ReplyDelete

Trolls and flamers will be cursed by our team of black magicians