27.8.13

THE VICTIM WITHDRAWS HIS SANCTION.

Merrimack College sociologist Michael DeCesare pronounces the word.
More and more is being demanded of professors. We are told that we must standardize our syllabi and textbook selections; that we must satisfy those aspects of teaching on which the institution was “dinged” by the accrediting body; that we must earn approval from the local institutional review board for any and all research projects, even those that do not involve human subjects; that we must assess virtually everything that we and our students do; and that we must [insert your favorite personal example here]. In short, we must do whatever administrators want us to do.

All of these administrative “musts” come on top of the traditional, truly important job requirements in the areas of instruction, scholarship, and service; namely, teach effectively, present and publish important research, and serve our institution, discipline, and profession. The list of additional “musts,” which seems to be generated annually by administrators, cuts deeply across all three of the traditional areas of faculty responsibility. What eludes most faculty members is that administrators’ requests are often only that—requests. They are rarely “musts.”

“Just say no,” therefore, seems an apt motto for every local, faculty-led revolt against administrative/corporate thought and behavior.

Admittedly, refusing a request from a dean, a provost, or a president is difficult for some tenured professors and seldom advisable for probationary and contingent faculty. Other means of less visible and less vocal resistance are, however, available to everyone. In some ways, in fact, contingent faculty, more than probationary faculty, can effectively gum up the increasingly complex administrative works.

But it is tenured faculty members with whom I am concerned here. Put simply, we need to refuse to submit to ridiculous, arbitrary, and just plain wrong-headed administrative demands much more often than we currently do. We must realize that just saying “no” is an important action, both symbolically and practically. On a symbolic level, it conveys the crucial message to less outspoken faculty, as well as to probationary and contingent faculty, that while administrators are free to ask us to do this, that, or the other thing, we are just as free to balk, hesitate, and object. That realization alone is an important message for our faculty colleagues to internalize. In practical terms, simply saying “no” more often should stunt the rapid growth of the list of administrative demands placed upon faculty; ultimately, refusing to comply might even shorten that list, and reduce the time and energy we devote to nonsensical “work.” Saying “no,” in other words, is a simple and direct tactic of opposition in what increasingly resembles a war with administrators.
Professor Rees revises and extends.
More bureaucratic costs, of course, mean less resources for actual education.

Since professors are the ones on the front lines of education, we’ll be the ones held to account for our universities’ bureaucratic failures despite our opposition to their creation in the first place. Since we’re in a lose/lose situation anyways, we might as well get used to resisting now.
Do you want to know who is John Galt?  "The man who retires from public life, to think, but not to share his thoughts-the man who chooses to spend his years in the obscurity of menial employment, keeping to himself the fire of his mind, never giving it form, expression or reality, refusing to bring it into a world he despises-the man who is defeated by revulsion, the man who renounces before he has started, the man who gives up rather than give in, the man who functions at a fraction of his capacity, disarmed by his longing for an ideal he has not found-they are on strike, on strike against unreason, on strike against your world and your values."

Withdraw your sanction.  Withdraw your support.

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