Friday, November 1, 2013

Dissent's weekly "Hallway Blather"

Wanna engage in some
alternatives consideration?


IVC's new mascot: Mr. Moldy
     “I have an announcement to make,” she said, standing at the end of the hallway, where they keep the troublemakers (i.e., our most pointy-headed intellectuals). And so we all gathered around, standing in doorways and whatnot.
     “You’ll be getting an email soon explaining that Building A200 has been inspected and they’ve found some more mold. They found mold in this office (she points to the office next to mine, which houses a couple of Spanish instructors, who are present). You two will have the option of moving out temporarily to another office while the problem is addressed.”
     And so on it went. We were a little puzzled. For instance, why would they find mold there and not right next door, in our office, where actual pools of water used to form in the corner during storms?
     After a few minutes I interrupted her and asked, “Did they hire a blind man to do the inspecting?”
     Miss Zendy (she of the Anthro digs) was there, exuding dubiety. I exuded amusement. We were all exuding something. The building, of course, exuded spores.
     One denizen of the moldy office got caught up in the practical question of whether to move out of her office. Her pronouncements seemed to take most of the oxygen out of the hallway.
     I changed the subject: “So why exactly should we trust these inspections? They realize—don’t they?—that, at this point, their assurances mean nothing to any of us?”

A200's last mold episode was pretty serious, back in 2005. Actual mold (but on pie).
Update (8:33 p.m.):

     “Miss Zendy,” who is running for office (73rd Assembly District), has gone even more public about the A200 mold fiasco. Her Facebook page now sports the following remark:
     Black Mold at IVC update: After some insistent, pointed emails and personal contacts, the entire A200 building was tested for mold contamination. Apparently, when one classroom, A205, tested positive for black mold contamination, we were informed that the entire building was tested and it was only one classroom that tested positive for black mold contamination.
     That did not turn out to be the case. Once the issue was pressed and the entire building was actually tested, another classroom tested positive for black mold and a faculty office tested positive as well. We were informed that it is a "tiny little bit" of black mold. There will probably be more classrooms and faculty offices closed as the testing continues.
     A "tiny little bit" of black mold is kind of like "one termite."
     [Naturally,] We have not received any communication from the administration other than classrooms are closed, faculty offices are closed. My request for Union intervention was met with "file a workers comp complaint". Nobody is addressing the larger issue: What about our students? What about students who do not have health insurance and cannot file workers comp complaints? My students are my daughter[s].
     IVC Administration dithers and blunders as always. There's been no communication with anybody (aside from the informal hallway announcement mentioned above, which was much appreciated by all).
     Earlier today, I did notice that another classroom has been closed. Still, we hear nothing. 

* * *

     COUNSELORS' DEATH GRIP ON WOMEN'S STUDIES. Lately, there’s been a bit of noise in the hallway concerning IVC’s so-called “Women’s Studies” (WS) program. I decided to do a little digging about the status quo at IVC.
     Years ago, nobody really wanted WS, and so it was pretty much orphaned and WS half-assery was the predictable result. We in the School of Humanities and Languages had an interest in WS (see footnote at end), but we knew that that sort of program needs a strong champion, and nobody in our school (until recently) was prepared to sustain a fight.
     Back to now. The first thing I noticed about WS at IVC is that the program is housed in the School of Guidance and Counseling.
     Guidance and Counseling? Who would suppose that counselors are qualified to teach a subject like Women’s Studies? “Academic Planning,” “Stress Management,” “Introduction to Assertion”—sure, I get why they teach those things. Counselors are no doubt really good explaining to students how to get to their classes on time. (“Be sure to purchase a reliable watch. Secure it firmly to your wrist.”) But WS involves history, literature, philosophy; it demands argumentation and criticism. What do counselors know about any of that?
     Nothin', near as I can tell.
     The college website explains that “The [current WS] curriculum includes courses designed to provide students with assistance and support as they examine career choices and goals. Students investigate feminist theory and consider alternatives for men and women in our culture.”
     As an academic, when I think of WS, I think of all manner of theorizing and reflection against the backdrop of history and the usual intellectual concerns: what are “gender” roles/norms and how do they come about? Is it possible to critique them? What has been the fate of women in our history? What does history teach us?
The counselors' contribution to the college community is subtle
     —That sort of thing. It's the kind of history-based critical reflection I (as a philosophy instructor) do in class all the time. We all do it in the Humanities.*
     But the above verbiage seems to emphasize, not criticism and theorizing but, rather, the peculiarly practical: career choice and the consideration of “alternatives,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.
     What do the counselors have in mind by “alternatives for men and women”? They wouldn’t be so utterly benighted—would they?—to be referring specifically to, oh, gay and lesbian lifestyles?
     In any case, given the vague verbiage, how are we supposed to tell?
     In IVC’s course catalog, WS courses are explained thus: “Students investigate feminist theory and consider alternatives for men and women in our culture.”
     There they go with “alternatives” again. What on earth are they talking about?
     “Upon completion of the women’s studies program,” we’re told, “students will be able to … identify connections between specific people, groups, events and ideas and larger sociological, psychological, historical and gender studies specific themes, developments and topics.”
     Huh? Identify “connections” between “people, groups, events and ideas” and “larger … gender studies specific themes, developments and topics”?
     That's gibberish. Words and phrases pulled from ass and splattered upon page.
     The college website announces that Guidance and Counseling offers three WS courses:
     Naturally, the links don’t work.
     The current IVC Course Catalog does describe a WS 10 that is indeed entitled “Intro to Women’s Studies”:
This course … reviews the history of the women’s movement and examines the development of women’s power and autonomy through the prism of feminist theory and practice. The course examines the role of gender in a range of societal contexts and issues, including sexuality, relationships, work, health, religion, and violence against women….
     (Those pesky counselors: writing isn’t their strong suit, it seems.)
     I can find no WS 100 in the course catalog. (Which “experiences” did that course highlight? One wonders. I cringe.)
     I did find a modified (or alternatively titled) WS 120:
WS 120 - Women and Work
. . .
Do you choose your work or does it choose you? This course briefly explores the history of work. It will focus on gender issues as they influence work choices students may make. It explores workplace social elements of work [sic] such as sexual harassment and leadership. Women balancing work and family will also be explored….
     As a kindness, I will refrain from making the obvious points about the thinking and writing displayed above.
     I found a course in the catalog not mentioned by Guidance and Counseling’s list of courses:
WS 20 - Women in Contemporary Society
. . .
This course explores the experiences of women and the perspectives women have on their lives. It focuses on how gender is constructed, how people learn to become women and men and how major social institutions (i.e., work, school, and the family) can reinforce gender roles. It then examines how women and social movement groups have sought to change gender relationships in the United States. The course emphasizes the importance of personal reflection and encourages students to link personal experiences to broader trends in gender experiences….
     That last sentence is a doozy. It makes two assertions:
• The course emphasizes the importance of personal reflection
• The course … encourages students to link personal experience to broader trends in gender experience
     The first assertion is awfully vague. The second assertion borders on the unintelligible. What is it to “link” one’s experiences with “trends” in “gender experience”? --Linking experiences: a fun new game for the whole family! And just about anything can count as a "link"! Zany! Wacky!
     I guess they’re not into writing (or, anyway, good writing) over in Guidance and Counseling.
     They sure are into squawking, though.
     Recently, a member of the Humanities and Languages (with the backing of her department and School)—a terrific new hire—asked to meet with G&C; at the meeting, she dared suggest the possibility of locating the WS program in the Humanities—an academic area often associated with WS, gender studies, and the like. (The Social Sciences also commonly house such programs.) This could be done, she said, in a manner that preserves existing G&C WS courses.

The "links" don't work, natch  

     To her astonishment, she was met with manifestly specious arguments and utter hostility. So unreasonable were the G&C crew, that she's decided to drop the subject at least until she's tenured.
     What's the hostility all about? I'm told that the counselors are afraid that they’ll soon be recategorized as non-instructional. (There are such moves afoot statewide, evidently.) And so, one might speculate, G&C is desperately hanging on to anything remotely academic that they presently “own.”
     Even if they are utterly sans clue.
     And, judging by the above, they are.
     Luckily, the college has a program realignment policy, developed by the Academic Senate after the "Art History" debacle about ten years ago.
     Eventually, we'll turn to that process. Let that decide.
     [Counselors, please do respond in your new sub-collegiate manner. Bring it on.]

* * *
Nearly a quarter century ago, depictions of the upcoming and much-needed
"Humanities Building" hung on IVC walls.

     DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' BOOKS. As you know, at long last, the college is in the process of constructing a building to house Humanities & Languages (along with the Social Sciences). Plans to build a much needed H&L center were in existence in the early 90s, but when Raghu Mathur became President (in 1997), his pettiness was such that all H&L desiderata were put at the end of every line or list.
     But here we are in 2013. Naturally, Roquemore and his crew have made big noises to the effect that the faculty (who will occupy the building) have been regularly consulted during the entire process!
     If so, such consultation has been a pretty unhappy experience, at least thus far. We've reported this previously.
     Here’s the latest. Turns out that our new offices will require furnishing that does not comprise regular desks--or bookshelves of any significance. Nope. There won’t be much room for books, it seems. CORRECTION: a very reliable source informs me that no decision about these furnishings has yet been made.
     Yeah. Roquemore’s endless march to thorough High School-level anti-academic shittude continues.
     And, it appears, the trustees just think that’s swell.

Coming soon: the new-and-improved A400
A400: 2nd floor
Faculty offices (detail)
Detail of single office: chairs and "desks" [proposed]
Rooms: about 11' X 12' (almost 12 X 12)
Bookcases: 30" X 72" (i.e., 2 1/2 feet by 6 feet)
*Readers are invited to compare these G&C WS courses with H&L courses about women: HIST 51 (Women in American History) and LIT 45 (Women in Literature).  Descriptions are available in the IVC College Catalog (a pdf).


Anonymous said...

This president needs to go! He doesn't understand what FTE means or WISH (in any sense of the work). Sad that so few damage so many.

Anonymous said...

"Awareness of the Female Experience" ? Do these course articulate, transfer? I don't see how. I've taken women's studies courses. These are NOT women's studies courses.

Professor M. said...

Who you you have teaching these Women's Studies courses? Doesn't the state require a certain number of hours at the graduate level in the discipline in order to teach the course? Where I teach they do and I teach in California. I can't imagine anyone with graduate work in women's studies writing such courses, let alone teaching them. Of course there is always someone unqualified who wants to teach a course but we don't let them otherwise it would be a serious accreditation violation. Irvine is still in California isn't it? Who oversees this at your campus?

Anonymous said...

The black mold scandal wouldn't be a scandal if the admin were responsive and communicative - because it isn't people don't trust them. Women's Studies departments are generally located in Social Sciences or Humanities. And yes, in order to teach in a discipline, you need to have done graduate work in that discipline. It can't just be that you want to teach a class and your colleagues and dean all say it's okay. There's needs to be some leadership here from someone with some integrity about what coursework at the community college means. Does Dave Bugay know about this?

Anonymous said...

Can't we put bookcases against the wall where the door is?

Anonymous said...

No you can't. What is it about you people and books anyway? What do you think this place is, a college?

Anonymous said...

Will the new A400 building come with its own black mold?

Anonymous said...

The board just gave Roquemore another three-year contract.

Anonymous said...

More black mold found in A213, many of those classes are being moved to a location not conducive to teaching. Why? Because there are no empty classrooms to absorb another evacuated moldy classroom. Here's a suggestion ... have a spare classroom set aside in case of a health hazard. Where was everybody to make important decisions? A huge lack of leadership and horse sense,

Anonymous said...

Which location are they using? How many classrooms have been closed?

Anonymous said...

I have worked at Irvine Valley College a very long time and had a good deal of experience in the Counseling Department as a member of the classified staff. While I appreciate anyone's concern over who teaches what and whether or not they are qualified, I do know that the counselor's I worked with and am close to today are educated folks with actual Masters degrees and beyond and none of them received their degrees in "Academic Advising." As always, its disheartening when one faculty member makes a comment such as "Counselors are no doubt really good explaining to students how to get to their classes on time." This is insulting to the counselors themselves, their profession and their expertise and believe or not, this expertise falls well beyond students getting to class on time or whether or not they are taking the right classes. In my tenure in the Counseling Department, I saw students inspired by and changed by counselors and routinely so. I am an expert in this regard and quite frankly, you are not. When we discuss morale at this institution and how it can be improved---mutual respect seems a good goal.

Susan Sweet

lady day said...

I winced at that remark too, Susan, but chocked it up to the blog's irreverent sensibility, penned by a philosopher whose primary aim is to get an audience to read. The blog is often an equal opportunity offender (And yes, on occasion, I am stung myself. Ouch. I can take it.)

However, I remain most concerned about classes being taught by instructors who lack graduate training in the discipline. I think that was his main point.

Anonymous said...

I can't go to the 2:00 meeting because I teach. Someone tell me what happens.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine any faculty would be concerned over who is teaching our courses. If the main point is a lack of graduate training in a discipline, I would suggest that the faculty in the School of Guidance and Counseling be asked about their graduate experience in this area. In the ranks of part time and full time faculty in that discipline, the experience is vast and impressive and in my opinion, rarely acknowledged or respected as it should be by their colleagues at the college.

Roy Bauer said...

Let’s be clear. My post was prompted by the unprofessional and hostile response by counselors when approached, by an admirably qualified instructor, about a possible new WS program that would have replaced the meager current “program” with a coherent one comprising courses from several schools, including G&C. That instructor, one of our most excellent new hires, was bullied into retreat by faculty that behaved as though someone were attempting to take their jobs.
Apologies, anyone? Regrets? Nothing of the kind has materialized.
--Roy Bauer

Anonymous said...

We hire excellent new faculty who then step up to the plate and seek to develop our course offerings. And what happens to them? They are treated abysmally by the likes of G&C who offer nothing but defensiveness and bullying. For shame.

Anonymous said...

FYI: Generally, accrediting bodies across the country stipulate that instructors at community colleges should hold at least a master's degree with 18 graduate hours in the teaching field. Most accreditation guidelines allow for exceptions, but, in my experience, they are rare. Exceptions require administrators who are willing to do the necessary paperwork and perhaps risk running afoul of their superiors.

Anonymous said...

Susan, I know that, as always, you mean to defend the underdog, but, in this instance, you are siding with the bullies.

Anonymous said...

If there is a specific situation going on that involves "bullies" or "underdogs" I am not aware of the situation so it seems pretty clear I am siding with neither.

What is clear to me is that the original post went beyond any particular situation involving curriculum, and who owns the curriculum, and bullying. It seemed that a great deal of time was spent criticizing a profession and a group of professionals I truly admire. If there was another point to be made in the original post, it got lost in all "the fun."

Have a good day folks----over & out ....

Anonymous said...

Some people seem to lack a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

The important consideration to take away from this post is that while G&C provide tremendous value to our campus, they are holding onto a discipline and this is clearly not in the best interest of the students or the school. No other university or college in the country has a women's studies department in guidance and counseling. Additionally, the full-time counselors do not have specific training in women's studies. No one is questioning their ability to be counselors. But, they are no more prepared to teach biology, engineering, history, etc than womens studies. And yet, they are controlling the discipline. A department, with related disciplines, and a school with cousin disciplines should be overlooking the women's studies program. There is no integrity in these courses as stands.

Anonymous said...

Time for the college to grow up in so many ways. Where is the leadership on these and other issues?

Anonymous said...

"Students investigate feminist theory and consider alternatives for men and women in our culture.”

I'd like to posit that the alternatives are sexism, misogyny, and inequality. I highly doubt it's presented that way in the current curriculum.

IVC Commencement 2018: Cloudy skies, smiling faces

Rebel Girl's favorite photo.  Once again Rebel Girl did her best to capture the spirit of the day as her faithful comrade and superi...