Thursday, February 5, 2015

Our concern about freedom is manifest


     Item 14 of today’s meeting of the Irvine Valley College Academic Senate is:
Resolution in Support of the US Constitution and Academic Freedom 
     What’s that all about?
     Yesterday, I learned that this resolution concerns an upcoming a recent college event called the “You are amazing talent show.”
     Well, that’s a stupid name. Whatever.
     Evidently, some have concerns re the “general guidelines” for the event. Here are the 8 guidelines. Please note guidelines 4 and 5 [the entire document appears at the end of this post]:
1. Performers MUST attend the auditions and any scheduled rehearsals
2. Acts must have at least one IVC student present
3. Must adhere to the time limit of 3 minutes (maximum)
4. No knives, fire, guns or other dangerous or inappropriate performances (i.e., nudity, vulgar lyrics…etc)
5. No lip-syncing
6. Acts must provide their own recorded music in C.D. format only
7. You can audition for a maximum of two acts
8. Must sign emergency information form to participate
     Given the issues that have occupied faculty of late, it may be difficult for some of us to get excited or concerned about a goofy talent show and the cluelessness of those running the dang thing. Plus it’s pretty clear that the people who created the “guidelines” document inhabit a peculiar universe (of illiterates) that some may hope to utterly ignore.
     Nevertheless, yesterday, as one of the Senators for my School, I dutifully informed my colleagues of this issue.
     That opened the flood gates of snidery and snarkery, Humanities style.
     Here are some of their remarks:
     I am very concerned with how this will affect my plan to lip-sink a performance of the Vagina Monologues wearing nothing but my two shoulder holsters and guns. Darn. I guess my fire-eating routine is also out. 
     And what about my act? – lip-syncing to Allen Ginsberg’s recording of his “vulgar” poem “Howl” whilst covering myself in free-trade dark chocolate?
     And then there’s this doozy:
     I had planned to demonstrate my dog’s amazing facility with profanity, demonstrated by her instantaneous disappearance at the utterance of any curse word, even in the mildest tones, as shown just a few minutes ago when I dropped a twelve-ounce T-bone on the kitchen floor. (The other dogs, of course, rushed to see what food item had just become available.) 
     If that didn’t work out, I planned to recite Chaucer’s “The Miller’s Tale” in its original middle English (then the “vulgar tongue”), while firing flaming arrows at a blindfolded audience volunteer. I guess I will now have to leave out the flaming arrows (anyone who has seen me practice archery will know that I am no danger to anyone but myself), and read Chaucer in translation. 
     Thus ever must art suffer at the hands of a bourgeois audience.
     Stay tuned.


UPDATE [7:00 p.m.]: at today's senate meeting, senate leadership explained that the resolution originated in concerns that certain recent actions/decisions at the college look worrisomely like the beginning of slippage down a slippery slope toward serious threats to free speech and Academic Freedom. In the end, the group strongly supported the resolution, though there were two or three who voted against it, in one instance because the resolution referred too broadly to the U.S. Constitution.


23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ganz prima!

Anonymous said...

You guys are just giddy because you prevailed with Women's Studies.

But really "vulgar" - who get to decide that? And what is up with the ban on lip-syncing?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I can't wait to see the Faculty Nude Review with Vulgar Lip-syncing!!!!

Anonymous said...

Please get your facts straight before your bloviate about rights being taken away. The IVC Student Ambassadors decided to hold a talent show for family, friends, and the campus community to raise funds for student scholarships. Being a family event with small children in attendance, the students wanted to let the participants who agreed to perform know that nudity and vulgarity would be inappropriate given the audience. They asked the performers to acknowledge their understanding, which they did (IVC faculty members who participated, by the way had no issues). If the Academic Senate felt this was such an egregious affront on the First Amendment, then it should have been presented to the Student Ambassadors for their consideration. To bring up this issue after the fact is an embarrassment and a slap in the face to our students.

Anonymous said...

So, the students wanted to have a family friendly event and the Faculty objected to it? Way to go Faculty! Thanks for setting a great example for classy students who want to uphold some level of decency for familes and young children. Dear Faculty: GET A LIFE!!!!!

Anonymous said...

When you see a phrase such as "some level of decency for families and young children" you know that the speaker is a person of modest intellect, who is greatly concerned about the evil free thinkers who would contaminate the impressionable minds of youngsters and the pious. Obviously an O'Reilly fan.

Anonymous said...

I think you are also missing the fact that the humanities department was also poking fun at the absurdity of needing to spell out a rejection of lip-syncing alongside the banning of weaponry and vulgarity and nudity. There is a kind of farcical aspect to the combination of these rules. Its all a little funny if you step back for a moment. The premise in and of itself of having faculty perform at a talent show is enough to make me laugh...

Anonymous said...

11:55.....typical of you and your sorts when posters don't agree with you or your hypocrite friends. Attack the poster and call them names. Now go away and play with your spellcheck and pretend to grade papers.

Anonymous said...

I kind of thought you'd like the O'Reilly connection. If you find that insulting, then there's some hope.

Anonymous said...

11:55 AM is correct...using "some level of decency" and "some of our faculty" in the same sentence would be an oxymoron. I am just surprised they are so vehement about students wanting to put on a fun program for their families that kids could enjoy. Of course, next year the faculty could show up and picket the show...mabe come naked and shout (or lip-sync) obscenities...I'm sure the parents and children would be impressed.

Anonymous said...

If this was a student hosted talent show, why the hell is the Academic Senate getting involved?

Anonymous said...

For the record, I think the original request came from The Arts and Social Sciences - not Humanities and Languages.

Anonymous said...

Since the student group receives feedback and guidance from its administrator/adviser, I don't see why faculty shouldn't be able to offer a critique. This is an American public college - in Orange County, yes, but still a college in America.

The terms "inappropriate" and "vulgar" have been often been used to eliminate views and artistic expressions other than mainstream views.

I would think this kind of robust discussion is good for the students.

Anonymous said...

..so good in fact that the student responsible for creating the guidlines was in tears when a fellow student told them about the "critique". It turns out, 17 year old over-achievers don't react the way you'd think they would when they find out they inadvertently offended the same faculty members they try so hard to impress in their classes.


Anonymous said...

Another learning experience, I guess. What are we teaching here? I think we are teaching that these ideas actually do matter. This is not high school.

Anonymous said...

Really? all of this discourse over a simple talent show hosted by students. I am truly disappointed (and frankly disgusted) with the faculty that wanted to make a big "to do" over something minor. OK, you made your "Bully Pulpit" point that you provided a "teaching moment" hurray for you...now go home and feel proud of yourself!

Anonymous said...

As I explained in the subsequent post, "all of this discourse" might not have been about only this one event. It was a move made to halt a trend at a district with a history of violations of civil liberties and Academic Freedom. Learn to read, my friend. --RB

Anonymous said...

" 17 year old over-achievers don't react the way you'd think they would when they find out they inadvertently offended the same faculty members they try so hard to impress in their classes." - there is a lot wrong with this depiction of students, teachers and the implied relationship between the two. One of the instructors most involved in this "critique" of general policy (not of the talent show by itself) is one who has distinguished himself through the years by his close working professional relationships with students. There is something paternalistic and infantilizing going on here.

Anonymous said...

Dear RB, as a friend I have read each of the comments and I still believe the faculty overreacted to the situation. This was a simple talent show initiated by students and faculty took them to task simply because (and I quote you) "it was a move to halt a trend at a district with a history of violations of civil liberties and Academic Freedom". The students had no idea of the history or the apparent long-standing issues that the faculty has.
If a faculty member or members were concerned they should have just had a simple conversation with the students....problem solved.

Roy Bauer said...

The “regulations” document for the talent show was unnecessarily heavy handed—an embarrassment, really—and was produced by someone who has no clue about higher education’s association with freedom of expression. I don’t think anyone blames student organizers for the document, even if they authored it themselves. Such events as the talent show are routinely produced with the oversight of college officials in Student Services. I do believe that our criticism’s are directed at those people. There’s no need for student tears. The root problem here, and it is a big one, is that the President of this college is a clueless non-academic who has no conception of collegiate values, and some of his hires, the people who provide student oversight, are similarly impoverished.

Anonymous said...

If the guy has a Ph.D. how could he be lacking academically? You're not making any sense, Roy.

Anonymous said...

Dear "friend" of RB - Don't you read what your "friend" writes? He also thought the faculty reaction to be problematic as well. Jeez.

Roy Bauer said...

He has a doctorate in rocks. He routinely alienates precisely those faculty with strong ties to universities and to liberal education. He runs the college as though it were a high school.

Half-staff: ten days and counting.

The flags outside A-100 has been flying at half-stafft for ten days now. even the one of the regular Jehovah's Witness women noticed ...