Yes, as I understand it, the document is yet another product of our seemingly endless and largely absurd effort to address the accrediting agency’s “recommendations.” These recommendations are in fact tasks issued by the Accreds in order to address problems at our college(s) that they have identified.
For instance, in February, in a letter, the Accreds issued three recommendations, including this one:
[We] recommend that the district provide a clear delineation of its functional responsibilities, the district level process for decision making and the role of the district in college planning and decision-making….The letter stated that, despite recent “warnings” that it is out of compliance with the relevant standards, our college (IVC) has made enough progress that it is hereby declared "accredited." Nevertheless, the college must now produce a report that demonstrates that it has “addressed” the three recommendations, including the one above.
I call our accreditation labors absurd in part because the process is so slow and cumbersome and generally ridiculous that, at times, the Accreds’ recommendations arrive only after the problem that gave rise to the recommendations has been largely overcome. But the Accred Machine will not stop; nor will it adjust.
But Mathur left the district more than two years ago!
Nevertheless, here we are, still addressing the absence of "mutual respect” (a euphemism, really, for prevailing Mathurian realpolitik) and the fear and distrust that it long engendered in dark, dark Raghustan. (Arguably, the atmosphere of hostility and fear was caused also by the bullying realpolitik of trustees Don Wagner and the late Tom Fuentes. But they, too, are long gone. In truth, we have a much better board and chancellor now. Admittedly, there seems to be some bullying at IVC that is unrelated to the Mathurian crowd.)
So, do we write the Accreds, advising them that their recommendations are (to a degree) inappropriate because the source of the underlying problem is now gone?
No, we do not. (Or we do, but this gets us absolutely nowhere.) Instead, like the Queen Mary or maybe the Titanic, we uselessly set about to turn the whole goddam operation around in mid-ocean. It’s a mammoth undertaking, and it is pretty dishonest; plus its pointless. But we are bound to do it anyway.
Back to yesterday’s Academic Senate meeting:
In the course of addressing the Accreds' recommendations, a group (or groups) within the district have arrived at a list of five "barriers" (do these people realize that this is a metaphor?) to "mutual-respect" and "cooperation." Here they are:
Barrier 1: Unhealthy competition within and between IVC, Saddleback, and District Services.Now, I won’t launch into a critique of the entire list, although someone really should do that.
Barrier 2: Lack of utilizing data and metrics for decision-making.
Barrier 3: Circumvention and lack of established policies, procedures, and protocols.
Barrier 4: Lack of district-wide perspective and mutual understanding and acceptance of the roles of each college and district services.
Barrier 5: Lack of district policy encouraging civility, respect, and collegial behavior
Nope, I want to focus on “barrier” #2 in particular. I don't really have a problem with 2, but I do have a problem with how it's expressed.
Let’s read it again:
Lack of utilizing data and metrics for decision-making.
Suppose a man stands on railroad tracks and is fatally run down by a train. How should we describe this? Was there a “lack” of getting out of the train’s way?
And what’s with the word “utilizing”? People who go to college learn to avoid “utilize” when “use” is adequate. Students are advised that, though there may be special situations in which the word “utilize” is appropriate, unnecessarily opting for “utilize” is pretentious. It is the writing of someone who is trying hard to sound important. (See this and this and this)
Could it be that the crew who arrived at “barrier” #2 missed out on this familiar advice?
If so, what are they doing in positions of authority at a college?
“Metrics” is another word that is over-used by people who have little to say but who want to sound impressive nonetheless. The word refers to measurement or the results of measurement. And so “data and metrics” refers to—data. (See Economist style guide. See also here and here.)
OK, let me give this thing a shot. What might the authors of "barrier 2" really be trying to say? How about:
[One impediment to mutual respect and cooperation in the district is the] failure to make decisions based on available information.Well, yeah.