“Race was the color of the system, but the system was not about race; it was about power.”
Then there is this one, with a Miles Davis soundtrack:
“Race was the color of the system, but the system was not about race; it was about power.”
Then there is this one, with a Miles Davis soundtrack:
These shoes are the Merrell Evera Shift and they are heels for biking. I do not need them but I have decided I should indulge my shoe obsession at the planning level as much as possible. I am still learning what I can wear, so this is not a fetishism, it is research. One thing knowing what available will do as well is protect me from buying in desperation or without having all possible options in mind.
Meanwhile, there is this interesting post and thread. I learned to be depressed from psychotherapy, and caught anxiety because I knew that what psychotherapy was having me do, the ways it was asking me to think, were destructive. Everyone said: “Change is frightening, and of course you resist by saying it is destructive, but this is only denial; you should suspend what you think is your better judgment, ignore your own reactions and views, and follow instructions.”
Now, of course, I am as clever as clever and I realize how false all of this is. I think depression comes from having incredibly negative views of yourself — as I said to a friend during Reeducation, “I have been taught self-hatred, and now I cannot seem to shake it.” It is interesting to notice how negative so many people are without being fully aware of it, and it is very interesting to be able to imagine being free.
This, I think, is another reason I am so opposed to advice — you have authorities recommending discipline, and assuming you do not know what you are doing, all the time; if you want to speak as something other than a subject of standard advice, you are not even on the map. I love to discuss strategies, but that is a different activity as it involves actual conversation, which much talking does not do.
In any case I am still learning to be as non-negative as I once was, and there is quite a trick to it although I am advancing.
I wish I still had this bicycle, but I hereby memorialize it, as it was stolen in March. At our institution attendance at graduation is required of students if they wish to receive the degree, and of faculty every term. It is as though the institution insisted on keeping us as captive audience for one more day, and showing us its power one more time. I am not going and it is wonderful.
I started summer today. There are many things to do here and I am going to do more of them than I usually do. Today I read a very interesting article, and submitted the one I have been in a quandary about. It is not going to be accepted there in its present form I want it out of my hair for two months, which is how long it will take the journal to get it back to me with interesting commentary. In this time I will write my piece for the writing group.
I started my summer work schedule Thursday and I am exceeding it, although I am not in rhythm for it yet; I did not write what I was supposed to write Thursday, and I still have not finished writing comments on all the student papers. Still, things I will do today include going swimming and going to the movies. Tomorrow I might shop at the Mexican store and eat caldo de res.
Already today has been surprising; I read a riveting article I had not known about, and submitted my article. And Friday I did thirty minutes of research for the piece I am supposed to be working on. And one of my blog commenters turned out to be a real-life friend of mine in disguise, and the result if this conversation is that I am going to New Orleans and the beach.
Things I want to do this week: work on my new essay, drop off the car, do nails, apply for a job, go to the bank, paint the door and the window, work in the garden, visit the prison, do a little planning for California. It think this is all but there may be more … the first week of June I am going to clean the office, and be in touch with painters for the house.
Eric Margolis, one of the people I met by starting an academic Facebook page, has this idea of the ‘hidden curriculum’ which I think applies to my project. I was at one point using this very old idea from Eagleton, cognitive and emotive discourses, but I like the idea of a hidden curriculum better.
The same author has a new piece coming out, “The Changing Hidden Curricula: A Personal Recollection,” in Contemporary Colleges & Universities: A Reader, ed. Joseph L. Devitis, Peter Lang Publishers, 2013. It and John Lombardi’s 2007 article are two essays that will help me expand my own on this matter.
Now my piece is definitely finished, and I do like it. Of course it could take another form but I like this form, too, and I want to publish this version, not hold it until I have something longer, or more lasting than bronze. I thought I had made a decision but my most recent advice is that it is such an indictment, I might be in danger. Do you really think? What about academic freedom?
On the Value of an Independent Faculty Senate
The rhetorical sleight of hand used in the attempt to discredit AAUP principles on academic freedom and tenure as well as to justify the marginalization of faculty senates resembles that used to discredit traditional university education and promote for-profit institutions and MOOCs. As academic blogger Undine indicates in her discussion of a promotional piece on MOOCs from the April 29 New York Times, faculty criticism of outsourced education is represented as fear of losing status. The defense of face-to-face teaching is reinterpreted as a lack of care for students “shut out” of traditional courses. The sharing of original insights based on current research is the dull practice of “writing one’s own lectures” or “one-way delivery of content,” while the use of class time to administer a commercial educational product is “student centered” and modern. These tactics, designed to sideline expertise and experience in the name of democratization and modernization so as to market and create markets for such products, as well as to “flexbilize” staffing in our increasingly corporatized educational institutions, are increasingly evident and have been much discussed. Less obvious to the casual observer may be that the same rhetoric is also used to erode academic freedom and faculty voice in governance.
On the AAUP, former University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett suggested in his June 12, 2012 statement on AAUP censure of Northwestern State University and Southeastern Louisana University that this mainstream professional association only aspires to relevance, and that only 4% of university faculty ascribe to the professional values and standards the AAUP has been articulating and defending for nearly one hundred years. The Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, one hears, is outmoded because it was promulgated in 1940. Indeed, it serves the neoliberal paradigm well to reframe academic freedom and other rights as concerns of alien centuries, unconnected to our own. Moffett’s April, 2012 assertion that recent changes in system rules on tenure were merely appropriate updating was another instance of the rhetorical sleight of hand that presents major policy shifts as minor mechanical retooling or slow evolution:
While many of our Board rules and policies related to faculty are based on AAUP’s principles of academic freedom and tenure established in 1940, our rules have evolved over time with appropriate constituent input and approval.
In the 2012-2013 academic year I had occasion to observe the use of similarly soft language in an attempt to revise and “update” the Constitution of a Faculty Senate. The proposed changes were presented not as amendments but as “edits,” although some were more substantial. There was also discussion of possible future changes to “make the Senate a more effective body,” as one administrator put the issue. The comments I offer are based on documents distributed to Senators and relevant administrators, and on discussion at Senate meetings. As such, they are the remarks of an observer without inside information or additional context.
My intention here is not to impute motives or designs, but to call attention to a pattern of rhetoric that can be seen now in many discussions of education in business and government. This rhetoric is not neutral and does not serve us well; we should not take it as our master. Its hallmarks include a call to revise or abandon allegedly outdated practices which in fact are either (a) straw men such as the deadly “one-way” lecture or (b) principles such as academic freedom, that are time-honored because they are valuable. The composition of our Faculty Senate is structured so as to support greater institutional conservatism than might be ideal. Some of the changes proposed however, might have recreated the Senate not as a more agile body but as a more obedient one.
The discussion of possible changes to the structure of the Senate was framed in terms of increasing democracy as well as participation and effectiveness. Comments made by some administrators and Senators, and questions posed in a survey taken of Senate opinion, suggested we might (a) limit the number of Full Professors who could serve on the Senate at any given time; (b) institutionalize the number of faculty now in administrative roles who were voting as Senators and chairing Senate committees; (c) radically reduce the total size of the Senate.
Language was also proposed for the Constitution stipulating that the Executive Committee meet to plan and “design” each Senate meeting, insinuating that Senate meetings were not an entirely “regular” process in University governance:
[Senate] meetings will not determine University policy nor shall they undermine the regular processes through which the faculty has input into University affairs. The meetings shall be designed to complement the input through existing channels and to provide an exchange of ideas on broad areas of concern.
The existing Constitution (Article I) defines a clear role for the Senate and assumes a far more cooperative and collegial relationship between faculty and administration:
As the only authorized, representative body of the faculty under the administration of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, this Faculty Senate is constituted to promote and implement, consistent with the purposes of the University, maximum participation of the faculty in university governance. In this capacity, the Faculty Senate will assist . . . advise . . . communicate . . . .
Given that the role of the Senate had always been advisory, the intention of the additional language was not clear although its probable effect, especially if enacted in combination with other proposed reforms, was plain enough.
Since the President of the University is President of the Senate and all Full Professors are Senators, it was possible to use the term “patriarchal” to describe the Senate structure. The Full Professors were described more than once as “non elected members” of the Senate. To increase democracy and reduce patriarchy, it was suggested, Full Professors should stand for election and the ratio of less experienced faculty on Senate should be increased. At the same time the size of the Senate should be reduced, so that all members would be fully engaged.
Voiced was the idea that with all Full Professors eligible to vote in Senate, they as a class had a disproportionate amount of power relative to the rest of the faculty and were a force for institutional conservatism. Discussion of these possibilities displaced mention of the value institutional memory and deep professional experience might have, or classed these as negatives. The assumption that opinion would be divided by rank in broad areas of faculty concern such as research, teaching, and institutional policies affecting these was not challenged. At the same time voting in Senate as faculty by administrators also holding faculty titles was considered unproblematic, as though the administration would not be interested in a clear view from faculty currently functioning as such.
It was not lost on all that these reforms would have caused the composition of the Senate to tend toward less experienced and also more vulnerable faculty. Some still remembered that tenured faculty have a fiduciary responsibility, and not mere seniority in the institution. When it was proposed that the membership of the Executive Committee be expanded to include the chairs of all Senate committees, who are appointed by the Senate Executive Officer, it was pointed out that this measure would not in fact increase democracy.
Reflecting upon the proposals for reform it became clear that innovations like these would not only limit the already moderate powers of the Faculty Senate but also marginalize it as a body. A small group of mid-level to contingent faculty may not always be as strong or as representative of informed faculty opinion as is a large group including as many as possible of the faculty most likely to be national figures. That is, a recommendation or resolution from the latter kind of group is the most likely to carry weight. Desirable in any case is a Senate actively, not merely passively engaged in shared governance and also strong and independent enough to work directly against the death by budget cuts being inflicted on our institutions by the state.
I once took Faculty Senates and the AAUP for granted, working instead on unionization efforts and in advocacy groups on human rights issues. I never expected I would need to use my organization skills to defend something as mainstream as shared governance at universities. I am disturbed, however, when I see how high the average age is at AAUP meetings, and when I hear newer faculty voice the assumption that Faculty Senate is an empty form.
Perhaps they are right. Perhaps the neoliberal model is already so well entrenched that these modestly democratic institutions have already lost their purpose. Considering the quality of my colleagues here and elsewhere, and their embodiment of academic values, I doubt this. However, as I increasingly hear faculty refer to department heads as “bosses,” administration as “management,” and students as “customers” or even “clients,” I would like to articulate some older principles which remain true, namely that: (a) the quality of the university is still that of its faculty and library; (b) having tenure means working for the integrity of the university and its academic mission; and (c) the administration also serves this mission and supports faculty in carrying it out.
These ideas may not hold much longer, but I would urge we take a good look at them once again rather than simply let them fade. It is worth keeping firmly in mind that we are not in a period of lean budgets but of structural adjustment, and that economic shock is not the same as natural disaster. As the present governorship wanes we may be able defend our democratic, academic institutions and thrive despite permanent changes to the way we are funded. Now is not the time for faculty to disengage but to increase participation, and to stand together with colleagues in institutions state and nationwide.
Do you remember that baile de cuna I got waved into, and that jinetero? Well, somebody caught it on film, and here is the evidence. I am the one in black jeans. We do not have enough pictures on this weblog, so we do what we can.
This is in a new dancehall that is made to look like one of the old dancehalls, and that is an old-style zydeco band. Everyone should wear cowboy boots. Men have straw hats in summer, and black felt hats in winter.
This was from Spanish 4, and Student is making sure everyone knows ze can use the imperfect subjunctive correctly.
Gracias por ser tan buena maestra. De verdad me ha ayudado. Me gustaría que hubiera más profesores como usted. Nos vemos el próximo semestre.
I have solved my manuscript problem and the solution is very powerful. I am brilliant. This is why people fear me — I can get things done. I have also gotten someone into graduate school this week, fully funded, no mean feat from here, so I am jumping, running, winning.
I have remembered another technique for the use of time time time that I used to use before Reeducation. This is very important and it will go into my advice manual: you should schedule time to walk the floor. There is value in walking the floor but there is no need to let it take over your life. You can clear your mind for regular work during most of the day if you also make an appointment with yourself to walk the floor over the issues clouding your troubled mind.
In Reeducation, this technique was part of the evidence marshaled in the case against me. I was too efficient, a coldhearted scientist. “A healthy individual would not be able to work in these circumstances. You should be feeling the pain more deeply.” In reality the opposite is true; a healthy individual can put things into perspective. And person with a brilliant strategy schedules in floor-walking time — you can get a lot done and have a life too.
I want to apply for an NEH Summer Stipend for 2014. I can argue that my project fits into their Bridging Cultures program, and all. It has a funding ratio of 8% and that is from among people who are actually allowed to apply, after applying to apply.
Our university can nominate two people. In the past I never applied for this stipend because I am not in one of the disciplines the University says it wants to prioritize for them. You apply to the University for permission to compete; they choose their two favorites; those are allowed to compete. Since I am already at a disadvantage because of discipline, I should probably be as politic as possible and not publish an opinion piece that criticizes another part of the university.
I am fairly ill with worry over this since I want to be able to speak. This problem, however, is why the scientists are so coldhearted. They will not say anything, will not be at all controversial, because they need the green light the Office of Research and Sponsored programs. I am more coldhearted than these scientists because I can at least think: they will stop you anyway, so you have nothing to lose by autocensura and everything to gain by publishing the piece and writing the proposal. That is, I am a truly coldhearted scientist.
These are my least favorite things about academia: peer review is not blind, and you are constantly told and also shown it is unwise to speak freely.
I am walking the floor over this issue and I realize I have done it before … long ago, after the first time I had ever spoken up in a faculty meeting. It is the same, nothing ever changes. It was in a small apartment in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, of this man I was seeing. I had heard for many years that it was a terrible error to speak up in a faculty meeting, but I had done it and I was now walking the floor. For years after that this man who I just saw the other day was concerned I might walk the floor a whole night again.
I think it is terrible how they terrorize graduate students, you will never write, you must never speak. Now I am walking the floor over the question, should I really publish that piece I have already pulled. Walking the floor over the question whether I should ever write or speak.
I have been looking for a good version of Walking the Floor over You to illustrate this matter and not finding one I could handle, but I came upon something else, reminiscent of the same era: Tennessee Border. During this period of my first floor-walking I had gone to a very buttoned-down NEH seminar in New England and I was grateful to leave the region at the end. I could feel freedom flash in as I crossed the New York state line, and I had planned to go into the city. But near the level of the George Washington Bridge a fateful program came on the radio, Tennessee Border, it was called, and I thought, “I can be there by nightfall.” I merged right and the traffic eased, so I kicked the car into fifth and ran from New England.
In Tennessee I went to a diner. They had fried potatoes with vegetables from the garden as they do in Tennessee and Kentucky, and I had Louisiana plates and a New Orleans shirt. “You are on your way home.” “Yes, ma’am.” That was when I became a Southerner.
I do not know what to do with that fact but it is one. And I keep being told it is such a terrible thing (you will never write, you must never speak, you must take a job, any job, but you will die if you move to the South), and I must live in a bubble, I cannot know. But the ones in the bubble, explaining, have New York plates.
This culture and New England are actually the same: cultures of deference. It is in the Midwest and the West that you can speak directly. Louisiana, though, is also Mediterranean, and in Mediterranean countries you have to fight.