Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Goals and groundrules

I frankly don't know what to do about this crisis. That's one reason I'm blogging again: to feel like I'm doing something, and to seek, together with readers, for ways that we can all help. Here are some goals for the blog this time around.
  • Sharing information about the crisis at other Illinois public colleges and universities. I'm thinking in particular of our peers who are facing steeper cuts sooner than we are (including CSU, Western, Eastern, and Northeastern): there are things we can learn from their experience. For starters, check out the "Illinois Links" on the upper left.
  • Providing an outlet to talk about this crisis. I'm not sure this is the ideal case for a talking cure, but I do think that many of us have been too scared to openly discuss the threat we face. Even a blog may be a better response than silent dread. 
  • Figuring out what to do about this crisis. I don't have the answers, but will go looking. And I hope to pick up ideas from others, in comments and elsewhere. 
  • Promoting shared governance. Local decisions will affect how SIUC weathers this storm. Both the substance of those decisions and the way in which they are made need to be subject to scrutiny, and a blog can help. To the best of my knowledge, for example, the proposed cuts President Dunn just released were not subject to any sort of formal shared governance. That could be justified in special circumstances, but isn't a good sign. So I'll blog about local decisions, and welcome comments on them. 
Ah, speaking of comments, another goal after the break: Providing a venue for discussion of campus issues.
Image result for internet troll

I've been told that many readers came to the earlier incarnation of this blog in order to enjoy the flame-throwing in the comments. I cannot help but compare going to a Trump rally and hoping to see a protester roughed up. Trump has repeatedly said the protesters keep his rallies exciting, and I will cite the late Marco Rubio's comment that thanks to Trump our presidential candidates "are now basically Twitter trolls".

So, uh, sorry, I'm moderating comments, despite the huge loss in ad revenue that may bring. Submit something that's substantive and not vicious, and I'll post it. I won't post comments that simply express agreement or dissent (I'm not doing an opinion poll), unless you say why you agree or dissent. I do welcome vigorous dissent. If you don't believe me, try it.

If you want a definition of "vicious", I'll suggest, in keeping with my Research Program, any comments that fail to follow the following Socratic standard. Socrates seems to have believed, bless his heart, that people always mean to do what they think is best, where "best" doesn't just mean "best for me". All wrongdoing is thus the result of ignorance. Whether or not you find this a compelling position in moral psychology, it is a swell rule for public debate. So I'll regard attacks on the intentions of people, even myself, as prima facie vicious. This leaves plenty of room for vibrant debate—Socrates was not known to be shy about debate. Let me hasten to say that despite sporting an appropriate paunch and bald pate, I don't mistake myself for Socrates—but I do like to think I welcome criticism and debate. Try me.

I'll try to post comments promptly—say within 24 hours—but can make no promises.

Finally, I should say that this time around this is definitely my blog, Dave Johnson's blog. Last time around I started the blog with Namdar Mogherraban of Computer Science, handed it off to Jonny Gray during the strike, and encouraged others to post at various points. I'll be happy to consider posts (in addition to comments) from other again, and perhaps a collective identity will emerge—but for now it's just me. And by me I mean me in my private capacity: I'm not blogging as an Associate Professor of Classics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. This should go without saying but might make it harder to fire me.

1 comment:

  1. Again, Dave, this all goes back to "shared governance" of which we have seen none. I was amazed to learn that the Faculty Senate are still allowing higher administration to sit into their meetings (a procedure started by cheng (rather than ask them to leave. At a faculty Social years ago I saw a former Chancellor once an FA leader who used the position to gain high administrative experience there. Any European Union would immediately have thrown him out. Not ours. Many former members have used the FA for similar career goals and take the side of administration by supporting their illegal activities, both in the past and the present. I know of what I speak


I will review and post comments as quickly as I can. Comments that are substantive and not vicious will be posted promptly, including critical ones. "Substantive" here means that your comment needs to be more than a simple expression of approval or disapproval. "Vicious" refers to personal attacks, vile rhetoric, and anything else I end up deeming too nasty to post.