Sunday, February 5, 2012

The "civility" initiative: just saying "no" to wider participation?

Part 3 of a series

     Since Friday (i.e., here and here), I’ve posted a series of pieces on IVC’s “[in]civility initiative,” which, as we’ve seen, given what emerged during the December workshop, should probably be called the “bully [bullies?] at IVC” initiative—combined with “[lack of] transparency” and “poor communication” initiatives.
     Last week, IVC Vice President of Instruction, Craig Justice, distributed a “report” concerning this initiative composed by facilitator John Spevak (of consulting firm College Brain Trust). He says he wants us all (faculty and other members of the IVC community, I suppose) to read it.

     The REPORT comprises
• An account of the genesis and planning of the workshop re “Civility” held in mid-December
Attachment 1: Responses to Questions Posed during the Irvine Valley College Workshop on Civility and Mutual Respect
Attachment 2: Informal Evaluation of December 16 Workshop (from unsigned index cards completed by participants at workshop’s end)
Attachment 3: Spevak’s initial draft of a possible IVC statement on civility and mutual respect
Attachment 4: Spevak’s draft of possible items which could be included within an IVC action plan on civility
     Thus far, my posts have concerned the first three elements (up through attachment 2).
     Attachment 3 is, again, Spevak’s initial draft of a possible IVC statement on civility and mutual respect.

BUT WAIT!

     That Spevak composed this “statement” suggests that Roquemore and Co. do not plan to throw a wider net over the IVC community to acquire input—about the episodes of incivility (and poor communication, etc.) that, evidently, inspired this initiative (with the help of the Accreds).
     Yesterday, I noted that, among the suggestions for improving the “workshop” provided by participants was participation of others (students, more faculty, et al.) in the initiative. That is, at least some participants suggested that the process should seek greater representation of the IVC community and its groups.
     I guess Glenn is just saying “no” to that suggestion.

     Here’s attachment 3:

     This is a concise statement drafted by workshop facilitator John Spevak, which incorporates those ideas and suggestions which the participants in the December 16, 2011 IVC Workshop on Civility and Mutual Respect seemed to consider most significant. This draft can be considered a first step in Irvine Valley College’s possible development of a statement on civility and mutual respect.
Irvine Valley College: Statement on Civility and Mutual Respect

     Irvine Valley College supports a culture which encourages and sustains civility and mutual respect. Within its commitment to excellence and academic freedom, the college values the dignity of each person, frequent and accurate communication, transparent decision making, and the importance of treating all members of the college community with honesty and respect. In its ongoing pursuit of knowledge and truth, the college aspires to sustain an environment that honors empathy, interdependence, professionalism, constructive discourse, and trust balanced with accountability.
     IVC expects all members of the college community to treat others as they wish to be treated, to help others succeed, to take responsibility for their own actions, and to fulfill the duties of their jobs. All members of the college community are also expected to seek the truth, check the facts, correct false assumptions, and prevent the spread of false rumors. They are also expected to value their own worth as persons and to confront incivility, whether directed at themselves or others, with respectful but firm assertiveness.
     IVC considers it unacceptable for members of the college community to intimidate, threaten, coerce, or bully others or to engage in retaliation or retribution. It also considers as unacceptable slander and intentional distortions of the truth, whether oral or written. While attacking ideas is encouraged, attacking people—either in person or electronically—is unacceptable. The college also recognizes that failing to fulfill one’s professional responsibilities often contributes to an uncivil environment.
     When encountering incivility, members of the IVC community are encouraged to confront it respectfully but directly and to intervene appropriately in situations where others are inflicted with uncivil behavior. Supervisors should call attention to uncivil behaviors of persons they supervise, and when necessary, note such behaviors within with the processes of evaluation or progressive discipline.
     IVC is committed to sustaining a culture of civility and mutual respect by expressing its commitment to civility in a variety of college publications, including employee handbooks; by communicating the importance of civility in orientations to new employees; by sponsoring projects and activities that bring people together in a spirit of hospitality, service, appreciation, and camaraderie; by identifying root causes of incivility; and by using informal processes of mediation designed to resolve interpersonal conflicts before they become significant. [END]
     Let’s turn to the last element of the report: attachment 4.
     Not only are Roquemore and Co. moving ahead with IVC’s “statement” regarding civility, they’re moving ahead with an “action plan.

Former trustee Don Wagner knows about incivility
     Here’s attachment 4:
This is a draft, written by facilitator John Spevak, of possible elements within an IVC Action Plan on Civility and Mutual Respect (collected from ideas generated within the December 16, 2011 IVC Workshop on Civility and Mutual Respect):

• Identify a group of persons representing the IVC community, using as its core the Working Group on Civility, to implement the ideas generated at the December 16 workshop in order to develop and nurture an IVC culture of civility and mutual respect
• Create a civility statement, obtain approvals from key entities (e.g., academic senate, classified senate), and possibly include it in the IVC catalogue
• Send recommendations related to civility and mutual respect to the District for its related new or revised policies and procedures
• Create an informal mediation process
• Schedule informal social and service gatherings and activities throughout the year
• Send a report of the workshop to the accreditation officer for possible inclusion in an accreditation follow-up report
• Create sections in IVC written materials based on the proposed catalog statement, including college orientation documents and handbooks for faculty, classified, and managers
• Gather the action plan group at the end of 2012 to determine whether the culture of civility has indeed been developed and incidents of incivility have decreased
     Item 3 on this list is interesting. It is the suggestion to send “recommendations related to civility and mutual respect to the District for its related new or revised policies and procedures.”
     Just what sort of policy are they talking about? Something that can be wielded against dissenters?

* * *

THREE CONCERNS:

     A brief observation: I can identify three concerns with regard to what I’ve called the “civility initiative”:

  • THE ACCREDS’ “COMMUNICATION” ISSUE: Issues about communication, etc., that are being pursued by the ACCJC in the accreditation process. (IVC is expected to make yet another progress report in October.)
  • VICTIMS OF BULLYING: Issues about bullying coming from members of the IVC community. [BUT WHY WON'T ANYONE NAME THE BULLY?]
  • FREE SPEECH & DISSENT: Issues regarding free speech and dissent—the worry that, as in the past, our college and district might attempt to thwart or silence critics of administration/trustees/leadership by wielding policies and “statements” against them.
     Correct me if I’m wrong. Are these the issues? Have I formulated them correctly? Have I left any out?
     My next post will focus on the last concern: the threat to dissent and free speech.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are correct. The top admins are not taking ownership of the fact that they are guilty of incivility (threats, retaliation, discrinatory behavior, fear, lack of tranparency, poor communication), instead they are turning the tables so they can create a policy document with teeth so they can use to punish and thrwart their critics. They will start with this blog. This should be a very interesting first amendment fight. I hope you have your finger on the delete button so you can erase all possible IP addresses.

Anonymous said...

I hope that civility report goes to the accreditation commission. It speaks volumes about the communication issues at IVC.

Anonymous said...

"Irvine Valley College supports a culture which encourages and sustains civility and mutual respect. Within its commitment to excellence and academic freedom, the college values the dignity of each person, frequent and accurate communication, transparent decision making, and the importance of treating all members of the college community with honesty and respect." Steaming pile of BS.

Anonymous said...

I don't know anyone who yells. I was actually surprised to find that on the list. Perhaps it happens in other areas.

Anonymous said...

It is also interesting that of IVC's 705 employees, over half, 371, are adjunct faculty (see http://www.ivc.edu/about/pages/facts.aspx). Yet, from what I can tell, not a single adjunct was on the civility committee. That is a big chunk of the IVC population left out. Were adjuncts even approached about the possibility of participating?

Anonymous said...

I don't see what good having a student on the task force does. It's always been about employee issues.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I think it's important to have students on the task force. There are real issues involving civility in the classroom.

I refer uncivil teachers - for the uncivil students we have a Code of Conduct.

Students often feel a distinct lack of support or response from administration when they complain about inappropriate remarks made (often of a racist or sexist nature) or poor treatment by instructors. I have had students tell me that they are told "There is nothing that can be done." We all know certain people have been "protected" for years - it is an "open secret."

Anonymous said...

I've never heard anyone yell or scream at another person at the college. I hope that doesn't happen. Students should always be treated with the utmost respect, everyone really. But, that shouldn't inhibit free speech and one's right to express an opinion.

Anonymous said...

There's more to bullying than yelling and screaming. There's intimidation, demeaning behavior, passive-aggressive behavior, icing people out, etc. Happens all the time.

Anonymous said...

I actually think faculty are pretty ignorant about the working conditions of others on campus.

Anonymous said...

I heard the folks at HR once told an employee that bullying is perfectly legal (while smiling). This, I believe, is the root of the problem. Just because it's legal, doesn't make it acceptable, especially in an institution of higher learning.

Anonymous said...

I think that has to be paraphrased.

Anonymous said...

7:11, I think the worst kind is from afar, i.e. someone who routinely makes the rounds planting their negative seeds & talking smack about others. The person being slandered doesn't even know it's happening until the damage is done. Their destruction of someone else's character is threefold; it satisfies their sadistic pleasures, backfills their utter lack of self esteme & enables them to get ahead on the job.

Anonymous said...

Agreed,7:51. In fact, I was trying to think of the word that encapsulates what you described.

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