(With thanks for Brooks for the title)
Just to let you know, we don’t talk much about the furloughs anymore—we have heard that the CSU isn’t even considering them for next year. Why? No one knows. What does it mean? It probably means layoffs and salary cuts. But all that is still a secret. If academic years had themes, this one would be “The Year of Secrets.”
This will be a long blog, but I’ll tell all the secrets I can.
There are a number of places at CSUSM where you can hear secrets, if you can define them as such. Often people will preface something with “no one knows this, but . . .” and then tell you something that you have already heard from at least three other people. The campus rates high on student confidentiality, but in regards to nearly everything else, well . . . forget it. You can hear secrets behind closed doors, over email, in the parking lot, and in the bathroom.
But, strange enough, the best place to learn secrets is in large meetings.
One of the first meetings of this year was an Academic Senate meeting. It was a special session (though not secret) and it focused on the proposal to increase the course load. I came late and when I walked in, I thought we were having a raffle. People had submitted numbers and the senate chair was calling them out. I said to myself, “Here’s a way to raise money.” It turned out, if your number was chosen, then you got to speak. No toasters, no George Foreman Grills, or movie tickets. And they had given out the numbers for free, so . . . no money raised there. No wonder we have a problem.
In an effort to combat what I assume would be a H1N1 outbreak, the moderators passed around the microphone wrapped in a paper towel. However the towel was never changed, so everyone just used the same towel over and over again. I’m not so sure about our strategies for disease control. But I came late, so perhaps the towel was being used to prevent electric shock from malfunctioning equipment. That would cost the university a considerable sum in lawsuit if a faculty member with sweaty palms was electrocuted while trying to speak at a meeting.
At this meeting, the faculty made impassioned pleas to preserve the quality and uniqueness of the university as well as for the maintenance of faculty jobs. The administration made no response here—that was the agreement for the meeting. Why, I’m not sure.
Subsequently, there have been forums and town halls, more and more meetings. I’m spending more time on university service than on students.
I’ve been going to meetings for as long as I recall. My father was an elementary school teacher and I remember at about age four being at a PTA meeting in a large dark auditorium. That is all I remember. But my family says that I had a friend, another four-year-old, and we spent the meeting running across the back of the room and colliding head on with each other.
This is kind of like the meetings we have been having.
The faculty makes their case. Then the administration makes their case. Then the faculty ask questions and either don’t get responses or don’t get the responses they want. I’m sure that the administration feels they don’t get the responses they want either. The faculty for years has asked for a clear accounting of the campus budget and for years, it has remained secret. The administration has insisted that the faculty workload hasn’t been transparent—but, as faculty member, I don’t get what that means at all. Collisions in the dark.
I could detail every meeting and every argument made on each side. But it would be about as interesting and as current as watching a game of pong. Every few days, things change and all news seems dated.
So here are the highlights and lowlights.
The 3+3 committee, which is a misnomer because it gave people the wrong impression that our workload would be three courses a semester, discovered that the work load didn’t have to be increased. Courses and jobs could be preserved.
Hope rose and everyone waited for an announcement. It didn’t come.
The President had a forum. Most faculty wore black. It was a secret that we were all going to do that. The President, who usually wears bright and cheerful attire, was in black as well. (I don’t believe that she is reading our emails. She is a person of fair play and good nature. I do believe that someone advised her to wear black.) The faculty asked her to take a workload increase “off of the table.” She didn’t but said, “it wasn’t for everyone, forever.” (It isn’t like diamonds?) One of the truly most reasonable people in the College of Arts and Sciences–he keeps a supply of refrigerated water and a vacuum in his office–asked her to address the impact a course load increase would have on the educational quality. He asked twice. She didn’t really answer the question specifically and, frustrated, most of the faculty rose and walked out. She seemed puzzled but carried on.
Still, no clear announcement about the workload came. Then Academic Senate held a meeting in executive session, which excluded all administrators. Robert’s Rules of Order bound us to secrecy. But I will tell as much as I can:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.
[Professor ______ looks like he has a headache.]
[What a great shoes.] XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX!!! xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ . . .
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.
[I remember teaching a night course in this classroom and I got the stomach flu during the class. It was awful.] XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
xxxxxxxx @?! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
[Who is that? I’ve never seen him before.] XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX !!!! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX [Should I add something?] XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
[This chair is uncomfortable, no wonder students squirm.] xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [huh?] XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX [It is almost 3:00]
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXX “>XXXXXXXXXXXXXXxxxxxxxxxx [hunger] XXXXX
The following Friday the Department Chairs in Arts and Sciences went to a meeting—still no announcement but they went through some information on layoffs. Later that afternoon, they received an email asking them to come to a late meeting on Monday with the President and Provost—no substitutes allowed and no agenda specified. Word spread and everyone assumed the worst.
False alarm. It turned out the President wanted to “reset the tone.” She talked about where the faculty and administration agreed and encouraged everyone to work from there. She also stated that we would solve the problem together in creative ways.
Elation reigned until around noon the following day. The Provost was going to accept the recommendations made by the 3+3 committee. But, as people started speculating, it became apparent that once the enrollment targets were given to the departments, it was going to be impossible to meet those targets without increasing the course load. There would be no other solution to the problem as presented.
Just before they took their furlough last Friday, the administration released the targets. No one was available to assist the chairs in “interpreting” the targets.
This week another senate meeting–will we be sworn to secrecy again? Hard to say. Each day brings new news.
What you don’t know, will hurt you, I’m almost sure.