Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Platz Ersatz, or Input Schminput


     Twenty years ago, the School of Humanities and Languages was slated to move into its own fabulous new building. And why not? It was after all by far the biggest School on campus, a situation that persists and isn't likely to change anytime soon.
     Around campus, one can still find architects’ renderings of the planned structure. (See.) Pretty impressive.
     Then came the OC bankruptcy.
     Then, in late ’96, the faculty union, then controlled by conniving creeps like Raghu Mathur, purchased its own board of trustees. Thus began the era of the conservative “board majority” and its fiscal unaccountability, Accreditation battles, First Amendment lawsuits, Brown Act violations, and "plague of despair." Over night (in April of 1997), Raghu went from being a despised but isolated part-time school administrator to a despised and Imperial college President, appointed via illegal processes not once but twice (April, then September, 1997).
     Naturally, the Gooster was cruel, stupid, and incompetent, as per his rep. He was also petty and vindictive, and so he made damned sure that those nasty old “Hum” faculty, aka the chief Mathurian oppressors, would get nothing—and, if possible, lose whatever they thought they had. (The notion that the district's troubles in the last two decades spring from the resentment of the mediocre toward the, well, noisily [but casually] non-mediocre [some of whom were in H&L] is not entirely mistaken, I suspect.)
     That was the status quo for the next dozen or so years.


     So, here we are, in year 3 A.M. (After Mathur), with the Gooster only a memory (more or less)—though one of the fellow's first collaborators, the unprincipled opportunist Glenn Roquemore (who finally made headway in his administrative ambitions by doing a 180 as regards his long-time nemesis, Mathur), remains in power to remind us that Shit Happens and sometimes Remains—and even though such student-less schools as Business Sciences have long moved into shiny new quarters (BSTIC), the School of H&L has had its twenty-five or so full-time faculty scattered all over campus. The highest concentrations, however, are to be found in that moldy and dilapidated monument to hideous ad hockery known as A200.
     I call it Platz Ersatz.
     But our heroes will finally get rooms of their own. The district is in the process of remodeling old A400—essentially, it will be the construction of a new building, and H&L will have the top floor.
     Oh good.

Neo-A400: about two years away
     The planning really started maybe a couple of years ago, accompanied by the usual noisy claims from on high that faculty would have input throughout. Such promises have given way to inexplicable changes in plan, switcheroos, and whatnot. Nothing new there.
     Today, faculty of the School of H&L (an aggregation that has grown so large that, starting next semester, it will split into two Schools) spent a half hour taking preliminary steps in divvying up the dozen two-person offices of the top floor of soon-to-be-built neo-A400. When said divvying is accomplished, the identified faculty “couples” will have the opportunity to provide “input” concerning furnishings, etc.
     Ah, but, Houston, we have a problem once again. Owing to the appearance of early architectural renderings, faculty were under the impression that they could opt for warm colors and woods instead of the black and blue (and grey) one sees all over campus. But no. Director of Facilities John Edwards, it seems, is a huge fan of uniformity, and he is insisting that the furniture (desks, etc.) of A400 must maintain the campus theme of gray and black (or whatever). No warm colors. No colors.
     At today's meeting, people remarked:
     “Someone should tell Edwards that he is no longer in the goddam Navy.”*
     “Oh great. We can call our new building ‘50 Shades of Grey.’”
     “Does this have to do with that crap about Saddleback being red and our being blue?”
     And so on.
     Well, whatever.
     The word is that Edwards is standing firm. He is after all the Director of Facilities. Why shouldn’t that guy determine the visual experiences of faculty and students, conferring in private, for decades to come?
     Yeah, but that curiously colorless palate of grey and black and blue is pretty, well, cold. Right?
     Shuddup. Time for collaboration is over. You'll take it and you'll like it!

*Come to think of it, I think Edwards served in the Air Force, not the Navy
The shitty wing of A200: "Platz Ersatz"

6 comments:

  1. Is A-100 subject to this color scheme (and it s 4th pricey remodel in as many years) ? The new Foundation offices? This is how money is WASTED.

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  2. Why can you guys use your old desks and get what you want and save the district $$$$? I don't get it. Someone needs to think outside their tiny box. Geez. Those old desks are indestructible. And paid for.

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    Replies
    1. Evidently, denizens will be able to choose between two schemes: one with a single table/desk shared by the two instructors (bookshelves on the walls)--and another with two separate desks in corners and the room divided by a smallish bookcase. Options!

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  3. I have seen this before at other institutions. They buy (or are sold) an overpriced package deal and the result is waste and dissatisfaction. I agree - WASTE. People are unable to use what they have which is usable and instead must purchase new product which cannot do do what is needed. WASTE. Lack of vision. Butt someone is profiting. Not us. (a table - not a desk? OMG!)

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  4. I understand the need for new purchases in some areas but I wish we could be more frugal and use what is still "usable" as someone said - and which is also, apparently, desirable. I have been here long enough to see this happen over and over again. There should be some policy on wise re-use.

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  5. It's a racket that only grows bigger as the institution grows.

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