It seems that my attempted “heads up” to the campus community—regarding IVC’s “civility initiative” and the associated “report”—has inspired strong reactions in some quarters.
Certainly, many readers have reacted strongly. (See Readers have lots to say.)
And, I learned today, one important player among district governance groups (to whom I sent the report) is—not to put too fine a point on it—hopping mad. Why weren’t they invited to be part of the "Civility workgroup"? WTF!?
They especially reacted to the following element of the report’s “Statement on Civility and Mutual Respect”:
Supervisors should call attention to uncivil behaviors of persons they supervise, and when necessary, note such behaviors within … the processes of evaluation or progressive discipline. (See Report, attachment 3)Golly. I wonder if the faculty members of the workgroup are aware that such language made it into this proposed statement—a statement supposedly inspired by the group’s reflections on Dec. 16?
And that ain’t all. But I’ll let things unfold in their own time and in their own way.
yesterday, IVC’s “civility initiative” raises some obvious issues—aside from the “representation” problem: not all groups were represented on the “Civility workgroup”—e.g., the Faculty Association, adjuncts, et al.
Two of the three I mentioned yesterday were (1) that bullying really does occur at IVC and (2) the worry that administration (et al.) might exploit this initiative to pursue policies and other instruments that can be wielded against critics and dissenters.
Late last week and again today, I walked around campus and spoke with several employees, trying to determine whether and how they see their situation as blighted by bullying.
I encountered classified employees who communicated a remarkable degree of fear. So great is their fear, they told me, that they are unwilling to participate on committees.
But who do they fear?
Let’s just say that they fear very senior administrators. I’ll have more to report about that in future.
A MOMENT FROM THE PAST:
Report, attachment 4.
I have a special interest in that sort of thing. As you know, the district has tried to wield policies to silence me before. Back in 1998, a letter was placed in my personnel file according to which I had violated the district’s workplace violence and discrimination policies. Evidently, Raghu Mathur really thought that I was going to drop a “two ton slab of granite” on his head. And my moniker for Mathur—“Mr. Goo”—well, wasn’t that an allusion to “gook”?
I was ordered to seek anger management counseling.
I refused. I secured a lawyer (the estimable Carol Sobel) and went to court.
From the start, jurists (first Judge Manella, then Judge Feess) looked at the facts and saw things just as I did: The district was wielding questionable policies questionably* just to silence a critic. What they were doing to me was nothing short of “Orwellian” (Manella). No reasonable person would be threatened by Bauer’s writings of “slabs” and graphics of crashing Messerschmitts (Feess). No, contrary to the district, Bauer is not the cause of the colleges’ accreditation woes. Yes, Bauer does have a right to offer vigorous criticisms of leadership. Etc.
I had refused to embrace niceness, embracing criticism instead!
Well, here’s what happened in court**:
MR. LARSEN (the district’s lawyer): …[T]hese are a clear insubordinate violation of a direction that was given in evaluation by the president and an attack upon the president—Um, well, yeah!
THE COURT: You mean a direction of, you know, "Make things nicer"? "Make this atmosphere more harmonious"? Is that the directive that you're talking about?
MR. LARSEN: That's [it] in essence. The directive was to cease being negative and destroying the organization itself through negative comments and the very types of comments that exist here….
THE COURT: Maybe [that directive is] a First Amendment violation in and of itself, to tell [that to] a tenured professor of the college. I mean, look, this is a college campus. If people can't speak their minds on college campuses, I don't know where they can speak their minds. It is supposed to be the bastion of free speech and discussion!
*Judge Feess judged that these policies were unconstitutional (in themselves) and were unconstitutional "as applied." But in oral arguments, he backed away from declaring one of the policies as unconstitutional (in itself).
**US Central District of California, The Honorable Gary Allen Feess, judge presiding, Los Angeles, CA, Monday, October 25, 1999, 9:46 a.m.
From actual court transcripts: verbatim