Tuesday, December 22, 2015

DtB's Year in Review, Part 1: the WOMEN'S STUDIES controversy is finally resolved

From the GC handbook
     February of 2015 saw the sudden resolution of the Women’s Studies (WS) controversy here at IVC. (See Resolution of the Women's Studies imbroglio Feb 3.)
     For various reasons, WS has had no real home at this college, in part because the School of Humanities (formerly, the School of Humanities and Languages) wanted to “do” such a program “right,” and none of its faculty was prepared to make that kind of long-term commitment (given their other commitments, etc.). And so WS bounced around a bit but never really rose above half-assery, program-wise. The program—or, better, the bundle of courses—eventually ended up in the School of Guidance of Counseling (GC), where it languished. Indeed, though it had once attained programhood, WS had been allowed to lapse into a non-program on GC’s watch.
     Meanwhile, the School of H hired new instructors, including several faculty with strong backgrounds in Women’s Studies and related fields. In 2013, one of these whippersnappers (very qualified, very gung-ho, very untenured) sought to finally develop a decent, full WS-ish program, and so she made non-threatening overtures to the GC crowd (according to which GC could keep some courses)—who immediately responded with defensiveness, paranoia and worse. In a way, that was odd, since GC had done little with WS, and, as I said, had allowed it to languish. Further, GC was offering courses that, at least on paper, were distinctly outdated. Indeed, the course outlines were an embarrassment. The important point was that WS (and related or associated studies) are precisely the sorts of enterprises that fit in the Humanities, where critical discourse of the WS sort is routine, or perhaps in the social sciences, where of course much the same can be said. For what it's worth, a brief survey of colleges and universities (including community colleges) will reveal that WS and related areas are invariably housed in the Humanities or the Social Sciences and never in something like Guidance and Counseling. (See HERE.)
     And that, of course, is precisely what one would expect.
     Owing to (at least some of) the GC faculty’s curiously unprofessional and hostile conduct, our untenured instructor judged it prudent to hold off on the WS initiative, though, of course, she had received much support from her colleagues in her own school, who had had other curious run-ins with the counselors over the years. (See HERE.)
     Time passed. Eventually, the moment was right to finally pursue the program, starting with a realignment—as per the college’s Program Realignment Policy, which had been created exactly because of the nastiness of past program realignment skirmishes, especially Fine Arts’ notorious grab of Art History about ten years ago.
     So the issue was broached at the Academic Senate.
     Alas, once again, despite our professionalism and carefulness (our maven was advised to sink somewhat into the background), the GC crowd immediately responded with wild hostility and anger. Two full-time GC faculty in particular seemed to make it their business to work the system and push buttons, however preposterous, to preserve GC’s continued “ownership” of WS—including inflaming the passions of the apparently clueless corps of part-timers who have always done the teaching for GC. (“J’accuse!” they said, virtually, at a special discussion session. Somehow, they had been rendered incapable of reason.)
     In truth, all of the arguments were on H’s side, none were on GC's side, and, crucially, the realignment had the support of both the Academic Senate Prez and the college VPI. GC finally backed off, but not before it had pushed faculty* skepticism of GC honesty and competence to new extremes.
     So that was that, I guess.
     A few months later, the two apparent leaders of GC’s dismal realpolitiking popped up in another popular DtB story, a story about faculty salaries over $200k ($201k, $229k).
     Karma, baby.

*Yes, yes, I know. "In our system," counselors are regarded as faculty.



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That program, while well-intended, was so embarrassing for so long. This is real progress. Congratulations.