Thursday, February 16, 2012

Today's Senate meeting: a "civil" discussion

Sunny Girl
     I’m too bushed to write a lengthy account of today’s senate meeting. Maybe tomorrow. For now, I’ll provide a brief and partial account.
     When we got to “my” agenda item (for it was thus described on the agenda), IVC Academic Senate President Lisa Davis Allen provided some background: that this civility thing started with a request from Chancellor Poertner, etc. Her comments were helpful.
     Then it was up to me to “present” my view. I reminded everyone that VPI Craig Justice had sent out the civility report exactly two weeks ago—with a brief introduction in which he stated that the document was for our “review.”
     I went straight to the offending sentence of the “Statement on Civility” that was included in the report—the business about how supervisors should be on the lookout for employee incivility and include such observations in personnel evaluations.
Sunny Girl
     I briefly described my own experiences with abuse of district policies, namely, the use of the district’s anti-discrimination policy to attempt to shut down Dissent back in 1998. Back then, I was called in to meet with the Chancellor, who looked right in my eyes and said that my use of “Mr. Goo” to refer to Raghu Mathur in Dissent was discriminatory. “How so? ‘Mr Goo’ is merely an allusion to Mr. Magoo,” I protested.
     But no! The Chancellor looked at me and said: “'Mr. Goo' is plainly an allusion to the term ‘gook.’”
     I kid you not.
     (Back to today's meeting:) I next suggested that, in my view, there likely are instances of bullying at IVC and that they should surely be addressed, though I could not see how a civility code would be helpful in that regard. In the meantime, I said, a policy that permitted disciplining of those deemed “uncivil” opens the door to abuse, to silencing dissent.
     After my "presentation," many senators (et al.) spoke, some noting the odd circumstance that union representatives were not invited to the December “workshop” upon which the report was supposedly based. Others emphasized the danger in allowing supervisors to wield so undefined a notion as "incivility."
     Dan R suggested that the approach to IVC's problems represented by the report was unwise.
     Eventually, Lewis Long, the faculty union president, assured all present that there was no way that the union would allow citings of “incivility” to become part of the personnel evaluation process. He also questioned the college's focus on "incivility," suggesting that we should be developing a statement/policy re free speech.
     It turns out that the participants in December’s “workshop” were rather surprised to see the aforementioned objectionable elements of the report. They (at least three workshop participants were in the room) seemed to say that Mr. Spevak, the hired gun who wrote the report, included elements that were not part of the discussions back in December.
     Jeff, echoing Lewis, seemed inclined essentially to leave the report (or at least it's problematic attachments 3 and 4) behind and to pursue a statement or policy that promoted safe and free speech rather than one that punished "incivility."
     At one point, even VPI Craig Justice stated that the “discipline” business in the report just didn’t belong there.
     Meanwhile, LDA insisted that, had I not asked to make the report an agenda item, the senate cabinet would have done so on their own.
     Well, that's reassuring.
TigerAnn
     I briefly noted that the information vacuum that attended the release of this report for two weeks led to some discord and confusion that could and should have been avoided.
     Craig asserted, plausibly, that the report was supposed to inspire "dialogue," and it had surely done that. At any rate, we all agreed, I believe, that the dialogue that occurred at today's meeting was good.
     It turned out to be a good day.
     Well, there’s more, but I’ve gotta book.

The scourge of "reassigned time" was a union Old Guard preoccupation back in the day, as was homosexuality
As I recall, somebody had made Rich's life miserable on this day.  Probably the Chancellor.
I seem to remember that Andreea kept saying "moose and squirrel" to cheer him up. Didn't work.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good job, Roy. And the other faculty who stood together on this, including our FA.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Roy, for taking a stand. Interesting turn of events.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone believe that the brain trust fellow included the offensive sections in the civility report on this own?

B. von Traven said...

9:01, the impression left by participants in the December workshop was that Mr. Spevak's "Statement on Civility" (draft) went beyond what was contributed during that day-long event. Perhaps you are asking if "others" might have influenced Spevak. If so, no one suggested anything about that.

Anonymous said...

Who HIRED the brain trust guy? how much did they pay him? Seems everybody is backing away from this now that you've shone a light on it. WHO wanted hearts instead of bullet points?

Anonymous said...

A bully only engages in fights he can win. Beware the change in tactics.

Anonymous said...

Can we find out how much was spent?

This kind of stuff drives me crazy - a retreat at the duck club with some expert paid what - hundreds, thousands - to make all involved look "civil" - unlike the rest of us.

Meanwhile for YEARS they have not enforced policies on the books already about "civil" behavior the classrooms and offices because they wanted to protect themselves, their friends and their relatives.

And frankly so many of us are afraid to call them on it.

Anonymous said...

Should have hired Dr. Gary Namie, http://workplacebullying.org

It's amazing, the organizational & human costs to this growing epidemic, yet HR seems to only encourrage this behavior. It even renders our Cadillac health plan useless: the toll it takes on humans beings cannot be treated nor curred.

When you have a crisis such as ours, why not get the experts?

Anonymous said...

Can someone do a public records request to see how much this boondoggle cost us?

Anonymous said...

It should be itemized in the board report.

Anonymous said...

Of course, we could just ASK Glen or Craig right? Wouldn't they tell us? Why wouldn't they?

Anonymous said...

Yes, what was the cost?

Anonymous said...

It probably wasn't that expensive, and bringing in an outsider was a good idea. The report is pretty illuminating, isn't it? Fear of retaliation, lack of transparency, etc. Now, we just need to act on the information. We lifted the rock, now we need to squash the bugs.

Anonymous said...

I've been living under that rock! I could have told you all about the bugs and you wouldn't have had to pay me $1,200.

Anonymous said...

They were just trying to see what they could get away with. Now they're folding.

Some of the very people backing away were the most insistent that this process and policy were necessary and they were doing some serious arm-twisting trying to get people to go along with it and serve on the task force.

Now that it's a public mess (thanks to you), well - they are doing what they do with messes here: kicking up some dirt over it like a cat does and hoping no one notices anything.

Anonymous said...

We need more stories about cats.

Anonymous said...

I believe that if BvT hadn't spoken up, the civility statement would have been quietly approved by the senate and forwarded on to the Board. Good on you!

Anonymous said...

$1,200 was it? It's true you only get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

BvT, thanks for watching over us and for keeping the administrators in check. What would it take to keep them honest??? Some poeple just never learn!

Anonymous said...

BvT for Senate pres!

B. von Traven said...

No thanks.

Anonymous said...

Was there any discussion about the IVC scholarship program? The information on the website keep changing - now it's gone. It's getting pretty late in the semester.

Roy Bauer said...

6:57, Rebel Girl is working on a piece all about the amazing changing info about our Scholarships forms, etc., online.

Anonymous said...

Steve Rochford said something about the scholarship program. I know that last year the process was wacked. It's supposed to be better now. Isn't the ceremony in May?

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