Monday, September 30, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords


     Just in case there was any doubt that IVC is a royally F-ed up place, today, faculty received an email from the Academic Senate President, asking us, on behalf of the Strategic Planning Oversight and Budget Development Committee (everyone calls it "SPOBDC," pronounced spob-dick), to fill out a survey.
     The survey offers a list of familiar buzzwords and clichés that are supposed to express "values."
     Evidently, the all-important SPOBDCians assume that, once a community has chosen its fave “values” terms—from a list created by said spobdickians—it has ipso facto identified a college “values statement.”
     Really? Um, maybe they're aiming at superficiality and buzzitude. Yeah, that's gotta be it. Who, among the educated, would approach a values statement by picking buzzwords from a list?
   
     According to Craig Hayward, IVC’s Director of Research, Planning & Accreditation (and, no doubt, a member of SPOBDC)—whose request is included in the Senate Prez’s letter—
     A values statement provides additional information about an organization. It qualifies how the mission is completed and identifies ways in which IVC is distinct[ive] in its provision of educational opportunities.
     A potential list of values for a values statement was developed by SPOBDC members at the committee’s annual retreat on 7/26/13. SPOBDC has requested that members of the Academic Senate, the Classified Senate and ASIVC participate in a survey to identify the core values that are important both for how IVC operates and how it should operate. Please take a few moments to provide your feedback on the proposed values for an IVC values statement.
     Hayward then provides a link to the online survey.
     Well, I clicked on the link and I opened the survey. It tells us that
     The following values are being considered for inclusion in an offical [sic] IVC values statement. The purpose of this statement will be to add depth [my emphasis] to our mission statement by identifying values that are particularly important at IVC in terms of how we currently conduct our affairs, as well as how we aspire to conduct our affairs. Please provide your impression regarding each value [i.e., click one of three bubbles] and whether it is a core value of IVC that should be included in a values statement.
     Next, we’re asked to “indicate the extent to which each value [in the list that follows] is a core IVC value that sheds light on how we fuflill [sic] our mission.”
     At long last, here’s the list. It offers, of course, exactly the uninspired, dishonest, and cliché-ridden crapfest that one expects:
A positive spirit
Access
Accessibility
Civility
Collaboration
Collaborative leadership
Community
Conservation
Diversity
Effectiveness
Efficiency
Equity
Excellence throughout the institution
Innovation
Integration of CWE and internships
Integrity
Intellectually rigorous curriculum
Mutual respect
Partnerships
Quality
Resourcefulness
Respect
Responsibility
Responsiveness
Stewardship
Student success
Sustainability
Transparency
Other (please specify)
     (I wonder if anyone on SPOBDC thought to offer sentences, even paragraphs, in expressing our values?)

shit-for-brains
     Some items on this list—civility, collaboration, mutual respect, respect, transparency—seem inspired by the college and district’s current Accreditation travails.
     Yeah, we’re crafty, we are. To convince the Accreds that, contrary to Accred visiting teams, we’re a seriously civil, respectful, and cooperative bunch down here, we’ll insert these terms into our “values” statement. I mean, any college that would tweak its “values statement” just to please the Accreds must have something on the ball, civility-wise (and integrity-wise), right?
     Most other items are just the usual vogue/cliché blarney: accessibility, conservation, diversity, innovation, responsibility, student success, sustainability, transparency, etc.
     Obviously, a less imaginative or distinctive list cannot be imagined.

     Is it just me? Or do others find this buzzword approach to identifying “the college’s values” offensive?

* * *

     The root problem, of course, is that the people in charge at IVC have no values.
     Or they have them, but they’re seriously F-ed up.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

OTHER:
arrogance
cronyism
Machiavellianism
nepotism
incompetence
totalitarianism
deceitfulness
psycho/sociopathy
malfeasance
misfeasance
sadism
opportunism

Anonymous said...

assholery

Anonymous said...

Love this post and the comments. At a real college, determining what values are held and put into action would proceed with face-to-face, multiple, searching, extensive conversations. A multiple choice survey??? EGADS.

Anonymous said...

Douchebaggery
Oneupsmanshipitude
Keeptheotherguydownsmanship

Anonymous said...

Reading down the Spbod-dicks' list--"positive spirit, civility, collaboration, etc."--IVC is not exactly the first thing that comes to one's mind, is it? Converting each term into its antonym, however...bingo! IVC in a nutshell! E.g.,

Incivility
Antagonism
Unilateral leadership
Ineffectiveness
Inefficiency
Inequity
Mediocrity at the top of the institution
Mutual disrespect
Resourcelessness
Disrespect
Irresponsibility
Unresponsiveness
Dissipation
Opacity

I guess they just forget that last little step.

Anonymous said...

This is really outrageous and utterly laughable. So what's the difference between "sustainability" and "conservation"? What's a "positive spirit"? What does it mean? How could anyone get at meaningful (useful) information when the terms one is supposed to react to are vague, undefined, and essentially meaningless? Note that people are being paid big bucks to develop these survey instruments. I think IVC monies could be better spent. Developing good surveys is not an easy task. It requires lots of careful thought so that the survey will yield information that is useful for a defined purpose. This survey does nothing to advance anything.

Anonymous said...

The researchers will always struggle to convert qualitative data into quantitative so it can be inputted to mathematical formulae. Unfortunately the only way to do this is by reducing social and phychological phenomonae into buzzwords. That will always be the fundamental problem here. Measuring the unmeasurable.

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