Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday roundup

Not much time for blogging today--I haven't even dared to read the comments as of yet.  A few quick things you've probably already seen.

The leadership of the FA put out an "Open Letter" attempting to respond to the Faculty for Sensible Negotiations--I'll past it beneath the break. The FSN themselves have just struck again, albeit only by reminding us about their picnic. They also announce a Facebook page, which at this early stage consists of their past announcements, including this last one, which I will therefore forego posting here, as I hunted their FB page down and just provided you with a handy link. Various confused things in the DE, including confusion attributed to me, correctly and incorrectly, follow as well. 

A story on the decertification push in the DE rather comically attributes to me the power to elect both members of the Union's DRC and members of the Faculty Senate. This was due, the reporter has told me, to an editing error. I did manage to put my own foot in my mouth when responding to the charge, unquoted in the story but attributed by the reporter in our conversation to Professor Eichholz, that members of the DRC are not elected. They are elected, I responded, but granted that elections aren't exactly hotly contested. It's more a matter of rotation, at least in my department, where most FA members take their turn sooner or later. Faculty Senate elections are, of course, only a bit more contested (I was elected in an election that saw a 25% turnout). The reporter was trying to get some sense for which body was more "representative" (in one of the many senses of that ambiguous word). The DRC has representatives from more departments, though not from all; the Senate has representatives from all colleges, but not from most departments (in part because it is not designed to have that many members, in part because some departments, at least in my college, "hog" FS positions by doing a good job of getting their faculty to run and vote).

Marvin Kleinau has what frankly strikes me as a terribly confused op-ed in the DE in which he notes that tenured faculty were fired in 1973 and repeatedly refers in glowing terms to the AAUP.  But while he notes that the AAUP blacklisted SIU in 1974, he fails to draw any moral from that story, nor does he engage substantively with AAUP guidelines for financial exigency. His conclusion is that the faculty must trust the BOT to declare financial exigency as they see fit (despite 1973), while the Chancellor should "give faculty a voice" in determining who would be fired. "Having a voice" falls rather short of what the AAUP suggests--does shouting at a protest outside Anthony Hall count as "having a voice", perhaps? He seems to conclude that we should all just get along and trust each other. Perhaps that could happen if some one individual, say me, were empowered to elect all members of the Faculty Senate, DRC, and BOT. I promise you all that if given the ring of power I would be completely trustworthy.


  1. We (outside the FSN, of course) all trust you, Dave.

  2. You all haven't been reading your Tolkien, then, unless you mistake me for a hobbit. There' s a good reason no one elects all those people--something to do with democracy, I think.

    See, look how quickly I turn even on those who trust me!

  3. Tongue in cheek, Dave. But, at least, you don't turn as often as Jonathan Bean who really should relinquish his tenured status if he has a problem with it,

  4. I did wonder, after typing that, if you really meant to express such unequivocal trust. Even the dream of the power to appoint everyone to everything took away my ear for the tone of your comment, transforming you, in my mind, into a flattering lackey. Just imagine what real power would do to me . . .

  5. Also, Dave, since you mention "tone" does this not reveal the key difference between traditional personal debate and distance learning where the nuances of language can never be used? This is why some of us oppose distance learning being forced on us.

  6. 2:48, you make a nice point about tone. Of course some DL techniques (video conferencing, perhaps) might help with this. But anyone who has conducted a phone interview, for example (from either the interviewer or interviewee perspective) knows how vastly it differs from the face to face interview.

    Some things are simply going to be lost at a distance, and while technology has given us many new tools to use (take blogs, though at times we've had our doubts about the efficacy of this medium, haven't we?), those tools are available as supplements to traditional classes--though faculty can't routinely spend as much time with such supplements if they are indeed only supplements and not the prime method of instruction.

    I don't think that anyone has yet mentioned the most obvious problem with distance education--which comes not from the faculty but from the student end. Distance education in the forms known to me takes more discipline and commitment from students than traditional classroom work, where regularly scheduled meetings (if the students can be convinced to attend) will at least provide the student with a regularly scheduled time commitment to the class and some social expectation for a level of performance in that class. Many of our students fail even in this setting. Drop out rates in the DL classes I've heard of are far higher than those in traditional classes (where the rates are already too high).


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.