Category: Uncategorized

On The Cost of Silence

For MARTIN NIEMÖLLER

First they came for the adjuncts, and I did not speak out —because I was not an “adjunct” faculty.

Then they came for the untenured and I did not speak out — because I was not an “untenured” faculty.

Then they came for the senior faculty and I didn’t not speak out — because I was not a “senior” faculty.

Then they came for the “activists, the outspoken, the union members” and I did not speak out — because I was never one of them who spoke for the “oppressed.”

Then they came for the Humanities  and Social Sciences — the Foreign Languages, Art, History, English, Sociology,  Anthropology, Philosophy, Ethnic Studies and Gender Studies, I did not speak out— because I did not belong to “these less profitable disciplines.”

Then they came for the Sciences that were not generating enough revenue, but I did not speak out — because I was in the “Sciences” but in the more profitable sector.

Then they came after a few in the Business, Health Sciences, Sports and Nursing, particularly those who showed signs of empathy for their “less fortunate” colleagues,  but I did not speak out — because I did not have any empathy for the less fortunate.

And then they came after me and my discipline — and there was no one left to speak up for me.

“On Going Out Of Business” OR How to Screw Your Faculty Who Are Not Good For Your Business (SATIRE)

Action Plan: A Memo from President Mickey Hedgefunds
 MEMORANDUM
To: Faculty at Freedom College
FROM: President Mickey Hedgefunds
DATE: October 11, 2019
SUBJECT: Our Business Is Going Down
By now you must have all read the October 10, 2019 New York Times article “Radical Survival Strategies for Struggling Colleges” that made it clear that “Mergers, acquisitions, shorter degree programs and major shifts in course offerings are just some of the tactics being employed to lure more students.”
Let me cut to the chase. Our business is going down. Like other colleges our business is “flagging.” Our flow of customers has fallen to an all time low.
Make no mistakes, our business is going down! And you are all commodities up for sale. We have not determined each of your appreciation or depreciation values yet, because it all depends upon how much our “new” customers are willing to pay for your various useless services.
If your majors/programs have been revenue-generating in the last five years (based on the reports prepared for us by the premier consulting firm Screw Your Faculty that we had hired 2 years ago for 1.5 million), then rest assured that your valuation and buy-out incentives will be much higher than the rest of your colleagues who are just occupying spaces. Screw Your Faculty have rated the departments and programs that are teaching our customers “to imagine this and imagine that” to have very low yields, and have made a special recommendation that many of these faculty offices should be rented to local businesses to generate revenue. Our CFO have concluded that renting out office spaces will help the college significantly in addressing it budget gap of 1.5 million dollars.
Our business is going down! And we need to change the name of our college immediately from Freedom College to Freedom Corporation, LLC. A new survey by Bogus.com has indicated that the majority of our current customers have never heard the term “college,” but 89.3% of them are familiar with the model of a limited liability corporation.
Our business is going down! And your retirement benefits are being too expensive to maintain for the long-term survival of our corporation. So, we have decided to cut them into half. Our BOT, which mostly comprises of CEO’s from Fortune 500 companies, have endorsed this idea with much enthusiasm.
Our business is going down! And who needs tenured faculty when they can be replaced by all newly minted PhD’s and adjuncts living below the poverty level and are eager to join our limited liability corporation. Our BOT has also approved that we can now hire cheap contract labors for programs that are experiencing growth. As a bonus we will provide our new employees with free parking permits and dental insurance for free flossing for their first year of service at Freedom Corporation.
Our business is going down! And we need acquisitions and mergers. Although the Chronicle has clearly said that “A Merger Won’t Save Your College,” but we don’t care. We have just begun negotiations with “The Home Based Business Institute,” a for-profit company located in Los Angeles for a potential merger with Freedom Corporation where our customers can be their own bosses. This is exactly what “private companies [sic] do to increase their size and cost-effectiveness.” We will market this new program in “Home Business Management” with a simple message: If your goal in life is to become rich, then you have come to the right place.
We will also be offering a certificate program in “Fulfillment by Apricot” (FBA Program) ––which will allow our customers to market their own products through the world’s largest retail platform in the world. Our budding entrepreneurs will only be paying a small monthly storage fees while FBA will be handling all customer service queries. This will be one of our distinctive programs minting money like never before!
Our business is going down! And we desperately need to create various training facilities to create a workforce where our customers will become entrepreneurs. For instance our newly formed “Innovation Council” has decided to bypass your cumbersome faculty governance process and have just approved a new major in “Storage Management” starting in Spring 2020. If you have not noticed, storage facilities are a booming business.
Our business is going down! And we are changing the mission of Freedom Corporation to reflect the mission of trade schools. While we can no longer afford to provide our customers an all rounded liberal arts education, we are committed to “graduat[ing] students who will make a tangible and constructive difference in the world.” Our new customers will be enrolling in courses for writing memos, designing brochures and pamphlets, a two-week language proficiency requirement to say “hello” and “thank you for your business” in at least two different foreign languages, along with a brief practicum in public speaking. In addition, our students in the Nursing and Health Sciences programs will fulfill their requirement in “Empathy Studies” by selecting ONE COURSE ONLY from art, theater, music, philosophy, English, creative writing, religion, sociology, political science and history.
Our business is going down and just like those “other institutions” we are also “trying to cash in on the growing impatience among students and their parents about how long it takes to earn degrees.” In our 3+1 year model, our customers will graduate with a Bachelor in Entrepreneurship Management along with a Master’s degree from “The Home Based Business Institute” PLUS a certificate from our distinctive Fulfillment by Apricot program. This will be our model of survival of the fittest!
Our business is going down! And we have to pay attention to who exactly are our new customers. My cabinet (that does not include any faculty) has discovered that we need to lure the large demographics of first generation students of color.
We will be reaching out to you soon to write brief letters in Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Tagalog, Chinese, Hindi, Somali, Cantonese, Mandarin, Maay-Maay, Hmong, Swahili, Thai, Cambodian and others. Our Spanish faculty will be writing letters to our large demographics of Hispanic customers, but we would like the rest of you to acquire some customer service skills. We strongly encourage you to contact our “Provost for Letter Writing” indicating interest in the language of your choice. Provost Rosetta will provide you with a brief software called “Hoogle Translator” to help you write these letters. In these letters we highly encourage you to mention that our goal is to make the American dream accessible to our “first generation” customers of color by guaranteeing that they will become rich if they chose to join Freedom Corporation. We will also be inviting their entire family (admitted students only) for a potluck dinner organized by our “Empathy Studies” faculty and sponsored by our Multicultural and Equity in Education Programs.
Finally, I cannot emphasize enough that our business is going down! But we cannot not hire more administrators. The gains from cutting your retirement benefits permanently is allowing us to now hire two new administrators: Provost of Brainstorming” and “Chief Amazement Officer” for the promotion of neoliberal innovations.
Please join me with a great applause in embracing these changes as we shift our outdated nonprofit model of serving our students in our precious Freedom College to serving our customers in our “for-profit” model (where everyone is we guaranteed more debt) in Freedom Corporation, LLC. I am looking forward to seeing you at the faculty retreat where I will unveil my plans for our Freedom Corporation, LLC. Please bring your own granola bars and Kombucha drinks. These are hard times!

 

This satire has been published in Entropy.

On Diversity and Inclusion Statement for Liberal Studies— A SATIRE

A Diversity and Inclusion Statement for Liberal Studies

September 27, 2019
(Published in Inside Higher Ed)

 

 

To: Provost JollyMolly Daft

RE: Draft of our diversity and inclusion statement

From: Department of Liberal Studies

Dear Provost Daft,

It is the hiring season again, and we have revised the diversity and inclusion statement that your administration is forcing us to add. We reluctantly do so, but in the spirit of transparency you impose (but do not hold yourself to), we would like to offer full disclosure about our campus culture to our potential job candidates. Thank you again for approving the rare tenure-track position in Liberal Studies.

Revised Statement:

We are a predominantly white, elitist and ableist liberal arts institution located on stolen Native American land in a small but beautiful rural area in Wokeland, N.Y. The campus is surrounded by hazelnut trees, peach orchards, German bakeries, French cuisine and statues of tall white cisgender wealthy men (several of whom were slaveholders) whose ill-gotten monies have helped uphold our elitism. We will be hiring a dynamic faculty for a tenure-track position in Liberal Studies.

We are legally required to say we are open to diversity, so we encourage people of color to apply so we can ultimately hire a white cisgender male candidate who (coincidentally!) had the same Ph.D. adviser as our department chair. We are especially interested in candidates willing to participate in various activities related to our collegewide symposium on “What is all this fuss about race, gender and white privilege?” generously funded by benevolent right-wing billionaires with no interest in politics.

All candidates are required to provide a brief statement about the following: a) their scholarship about social justice that can be implemented without producing any discomfort and b) anticipated contributions to our diversity and inclusion efforts related to our All Lives Matter initiatives.

We will interview promising candidates from a highly selective pool of stellar diversity candidates whom we have narrowed to the white people. This will meet the requirements of an inclusive search process required by our HR department.

Given the unlikely chance that we do hire a diversity candidate, we have made a commitment to create equal opportunities for their success. These commitments include, but are definitely not limited to:

  • various modeling appointments and Photoshopping opportunities for our public relations campaign;
  • having our newly hired candidate pose on college brochures and promotional materials to highlight our commitment to marketing diversity;
  • asking the new faculty member to respond to racist incidents on the campus; and
  • making sure they are bogged down in committee, advising and other service work we don’t ask of other new hires.

This approach is consistent with our long-term practice — and our new dean’s reaffirmed commitment to paying lip service to diversity and inclusion.

In addition to the above requirements, candidates of color must be willing to serve as symbolic figureheads on diversity committees, where their presence will be noted, their voices unheard and their written objections to various racially biased ideas and incidents respectfully ignored.

We assure our newly hired marginalized faculty member that they will experience long periods of isolation and frequent micro-invalidation in our department and throughout the campus. This isolation will provide them with the time and space to move their research agenda forward. Our all-white faculty members in Liberal Studies have agreed to be willing participants in this isolation. (They assure us it isn’t personal; it is just about the “right fit.”)

We will interview our top 10 to 12 candidates at the National Liberal Studies Conference to be held in New Orleans from Dec. 24-27, 2019.

We look forward to receiving your application. Our commitment to diversity lip service remains a top priority.

Respectfully,

Dr. Don White (Chair, Liberal Studies)

Dr. Becky Wise

Dr. Tommy All-Smiles

On Racial Violence in the Academy

 

“The institutionalization of Black Studies, Feminist Studies, all of these things, led to a sense that the struggle was over for a lot of people and that one did not have to continue the personal consciousness-raising and changing of one’s viewpoint.”
bell hooks

 

Every faculty of color in this country is under assault. Every faculty of color in this country is exhausted and overworked. Every faculty of color in this country is undermined, glossed over, and tossed aside. Every faculty of color in this country is depressed. Every faculty of color in this county is outraged. Every faculty of color in this country is silenced.

This is a national story. This is a national epidemic. This is violence on and to our bodies, on our minds, and in our internal lives. This is our #MeToo moment.

I have been listening and listening for a while. There are too many stories to tell. One of these could be yours. And this is not the beginning. Our predecessors have endured even worst circumstances. Some of them survived. Many didn’t.

These are just a few of our stories. You know these people and so do I. They are everywhere.

Violence # 1

Joni applied for tenure and was denied.

Joni is a sociologist by training and teaches about structural racism and race relations in the United States. She has published extensively, speaks her mind (when necessary) and is considered a good citizen of her university. Some of her colleagues do not like the “auto”-ethnography aspect of her research. Every year a few white students have complained how Jodi’s teaching have made them uncomfortable. She spends two weeks in her “Race Relations” course teaching about the origins of white supremacy grounded in history/herstory.
There is also plenty of evidence in her teaching evaluations that suggests that she is an effective faculty, including students saying that she changed their lives. Her department chair and her colleagues, however, are not convinced. They focus instead on the “discomforts” felt by her white student in the last 6 years. They said that such discomfort has created a clear pattern, a pattern that her department chair said, “cannot be ignored.” A couple white students called her a racist. One even called her “a bitch.” These are documented in her evaluations. Her colleagues (all white) stated that Joni is driving some potential sociology majors away from the department.
Joni appealed her denial of tenure on grounds of discrimination and violation of academic freedom. Her appeal is denied.
#PriceOfDiscomfort#

Violence #2
Mark has been working on his book for the past 4 years. His work is interdisciplinary and intersectional drawing from graffiti, music and its relationship to political philosophy in Cuba. He is overjoyed that he was just offered a contract from a state university press. When he declares this news to his white colleague (who has received tenure two years ago by publishing only a few articles but goes to happy hour with his students every Friday) he say, “Mark, that’s great. Did you not manage to get a bite from the more respectable presses?”
In less than two years this “happy hour” colleague with “only a few articles” will be writing for Mark’s tenure review. Mark starts having panic attacks. For the first time he decides to take anxiety medications.
#WhiteSupremacyIsNuanced#

Violence # 3
Padma is a visiting professor and is in the job market to secure a tenure track job in Renaissance Literature. In one of her campus visits she is told by a senior colleague that his department is obligated to hire a faculty of color. “It’s this diversity thing you know!” During dinner another faculty, a middle aged Americanist leans and whispers to her that she loves her culture and the Bollywood dances. “But I don’t know if I have the guts to ever visit your country,” she adds. Padma is speechless. She wonders if she forgot to mention to the committee that her first book received a major award. For the rest of her visit she is reminded numerous times that her ethnicity is an asset.
#MicroaggressionIsARealThing#

Violence #4
“Go back to your country!” Right after the election of Trump Sheila came back to work and found this large note on her door. It was written with red ink. Sheila is born here. Her parents are from Kenya. She immediately brings this to the attention of her department chair. She never hears back.
““You are still here?” Sheila receives another note a week later. This time she is afraid for her safety. She complains to the Dean. The Dean asks her to inform the chair. She again tells the chair and a few of her colleagues. One of her colleagues say, “that’s not nice.” Another one asks, “Do you know who it could be?”
She finally tells this to a few of her trusted students. The students rally for her.
Sheila is called by the Dean and is told that she is being disruptive. She is being unprofessional. She must apologize to her chair. Her department chair stops talking to her. Her chair is a black woman.
#ThereAreNoAllies#

Violence # 5
Fatema is one of the three faculty of color on her campus. Fatema’s area of scholarly expertise is in International Relations with a particular focus on banking in the Middle East. She is not an angry woman of color. There are a few other underrepresented faculties on her campus too. In total they are seven, or maybe eight (if you count the faculty who claims she is really “kinda brown.”) Fatema is also tenured. She cannot say “no” to many of the service requests. Recently, her college has made a “serious” commitment to equity. Faculty voted to have diversity represented on every committee. She has served on the diversity committee, curriculum committee, several ad hoc committees (including one for parking) and was the only faculty of color on the college’s strategic planning committee. It was her idea that the college does a climate study of underrepresented faculty and students. Her idea did not make it into the strategic plan. Later a white male colleague suggested the same. He was asked to chair the committee for the climate study.

Fatema is planning on going up for full. There are only four other women on her campus that have been promoted to full in the last 20 years. She is not worried about her publications. She has a national and international reputation, but she is required to chair a major committee or a department. This year there is an opportunity for her to chair her department (and she feels quite ready for the undertaking). Yet, very recently she has been politely told that “Jerry” her male colleague is better suited for this position given that he will need to work with admissions to recruit students. Enrollments are an issue. And of course only Jerry has some special magic or formula that Fatema apparently does not. She does not even have an accent.

She recently found out (through another colleague who was consulted) that there was a new interdisciplinary major being proposed in Middle Eastern Studies. Most of the faculty proposing this major are white and there is one East Asian faculty (who does not work on anything to do with the Middle East). She is baffled that she is never consulted. Seriously baffled.
#GlossedOver#
#NormalizationOfBeingUndermined#

This is not fiction.
This is your life.
This is our life.
This life is not invisible.
This knowledge is being used, reused, misused.

The Bridge Called Our Back is broken
The Bridge Called Our Back is made to collapse
The Bridge Called Our Back is in need of serious repair
Racial capitalism in the academy is a serious crime
A crime for which no one is indicted
A crime that is just glossed over
as “unsubstantiated claims.”

#InDiversityAndEquityWeTrust#
#InDiversityAndEquityWeCommit#
There are their words, not ours.