|Dec. 16: Working Group on Civility|
–Or, anyway, something like that.
Unfortunately, despite our institution’s nature—or partial nature—as a “college,” one cannot count on IVC denizens, especially administrators, to use words precisely or even more or less correctly. Remember the decades in which Building A300 was labeled “Humanites”? We’d point at the letters on that wall. “So, what’s the problem?” administrators would ask.
My Mac’s dictionary offers this definition of “civility”:
formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speechGosh, surely our college community isn’t concerned about so superficial a part of life as manners! OK, certain people really could do with a few lessons in when and when not to, um, snort. And, gosh, why can’t certain people (especially in Fine Arts*) learn how to eat and talk in a manner that avoids spewage?
—Nope, the problem at IVC isn’t a mere lack of manners or courtesy. “Incivility” is code here for a range of phenomena ranging from mere rudeness to, I think, ruthlessness and meanness, which takes us beyond the realm of civility into the zone of moral ugliness--even violence.
That IVC's "(in)civility" issue is really about a darker range of behaviors than that word implies becomes clear when one reads the recent “report” sent around yesterday by VPI Justice. Justice introduces it thus:
Please share this report from John Spevak regarding Civility. We would like all faculty and staff in your area to have a copy for their review. Please forward it as appropriate. Thank you.How very civil! I'll do what I can to share it!
Here's some background. Evidently (this is in the report), in November, President Roquemore hired a Sacramento consulting firm—“College Brain Trust” (I kid you not)—to help address this so-called civility issue. CBT chose consultant John Spevak, a former administrator at Merced College, as our facilitator. Soon, Spevak and Roquemore consulted with Dennis Gordon (classified), Jeff Kaufmann (faculty), and Keith Shackleford (administration) to plan some sort of workshop or retreat, which occurred on Dec. 16 at the Irvine Ranch Water District Duck Club building.
Before that date, the 20-or-so participants (including 4 faculty, 5 classified, 6 “managers” [including administrators], two “guests,” et al.) were told to think about these questions:
· What have been some of the issues and challenges at IVC related to civility in the recent past?The “guests” were Dean Jay Heffron from Soka University and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California Irvine School of Law. Impressive.
· What are the core values related to civility that the IVC community shares?
· What are examples of model behaviors related to these values?
· What are the (minimal) behavioral expectations related to civility as a result of these core values?
· Related to civility, what behaviors are considered unacceptable?
· What are some proactive things IVC can do to foster civility?
· What are some ways to deal with incivility when it occurs on campus?
On the big day, Spevak broke this mob into several smaller groups: “gender-balanced groups with representatives of faculty, classified staff, and managers.”
Participants at the Duck Club were told to adopt a "Donald Duck voice"** and then to discuss the above questions. Eventually, they ranked "items" for "significance" with red, green, and yellow dots (somebody urged the use of “hearts” next time; really). This led to a document (attachment 1 of the “report”) that presents issues ranked as “priority 1,” “priority 2,” and “priority 3”—based on participants’ wielding of those silly "significance" dots.
A PROBLEM OF MERE INCIVILITY?
OK, so here’s the deal. With respect to the question
What are recent issues and challenges related to civility (and mutual respect) at IVC?
1) Insufficient transparency in college processes
2) Fears of retaliation
3) Not moving on from an earlier culture when everyone was united against one person (the chancellor)
Fear of retaliation? I’ve heard those words often in recent years, and they usually come up in connection with the VPI. (Am I wrong?)
The “priority 2” list is less interesting: a hodgepodge of concerns, few of which seem connected to “civility.” The first of 9 items is “A need to improve customer service and communication with students.” (“Anonymous commentary through ‘the blog’” appears as #5. Damned trolls!)
“Transparency” and “communication” come up in each of the three “priorities.” Hmmm.
With regard to the question,
What are core values related to civility shared by the IVC community?
the “priority 1” list is the following:
1) Communication, including the communication of significant information—Ah, “transparency” and “communication” again. Isn’t that about administration?
2) Mutual respect
4) A climate of caring and kindness, recognizing that each person has intrinsic worth
5) A commitment to excellence
6) A sense of collective stewardship
Here are some results for the remaining questions:
QUESTION: As a result of the core values, what are (minimal) behavioral expectations at IVC related to civility and mutual respect?
The “priority 1” list is the following:
1) Treating others as you would like to be treated, with respectQUESTION: Related to civility and mutual respect, what are unacceptable behaviors at IVC?
2) Making the effort to be prepared for and engaged in what you agreed to
3) Taking responsibility for one’s own actions
4) Loyalty to the campus community
The “priority 1” list is:
1) Yelling, shouting or obnoxious behavior; threats, profane or vulgar languageYesterday, Rebel Girl and I noted these concerns. We looked at each other.
2) Retaliation or retribution
3) Passive-aggressive behaviors, including failure to respond and delaying tactics
4) Bullying, either in person or from afar
“Gosh,” we said, “what on Earth goes on at this college?!”
QUESTION: What are some pro-active things IVC can do to encourage and foster civility?
1) Creating a campus statement of norms and expectations, related to mission and vision, and including it in handbooks, in the college catalog, and within a mentor programQUESTION: What are some ways to deal with incivility when it occurs at IVC?
2) Creating for IVC a new era of civility: acknowledging the past, describing who we are now, identifying where we want to go
3) Sponsoring more projects that unite the IVC community (such as Operation Christmas Child); scheduling more informal social “fun” events for the entire campus
1) Identifying root causes of incivilityLet us know what you make of all this.
2) Challenging inappropriate behavior; requesting appropriate responses and expectations
3) Creating campus climate mediators, volunteers who facilitate “safe harbor discussions” before issues reach the grievance stage
4) Creating a college mediator or ombudsman
*Yeah, this is utterly gratuitous. False even.
**OK, I just made that up.