Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Infinite Regress

1. We need to change this policy. The inherited policy makes no sense.

2. The forms we use are based on the old policy.

3. We need new forms.

4. We can’t just draw up the new forms. We need to run it by the union and the faculty governance group.

5. With multiple drafts.

6. Then we need to introduce the new forms at one of the three annual faculty meetings.

7. But they can’t take effect immediately. People need to know in advance.

8. So we’ll introduce them next year, to take effect the following year.

9. If we remember.

10. In the meantime, we’ll continue to use the forms that make no sense.

11. To respect the process.

12. While communicating that the forms will be changed.

13. But not yet.

14. But the union contract specifies the inherited form.

15. And the contract isn’t up for several more years.

16. So we’ll have to start the process then.

17. Or at least agree to start it. Coming to the table with a fully-formed form could be construed as bad faith.

18. So it’s resolved. We’ll fix the problem in five years.

19. (pause)

20. Oh, wait, there’s something else…

In the words of Dean Martin..."Welcome to my world, Won't you come on in!"

Yep... and what is probably actually going on is that the old form is used, in practice, for the new purpose. That new purpose would probably be ok with everyone involved -- and it probably HAS been ok with previous people in charge, who also didn't change it for the reasons you explain.
** sob **

You spell out so clearly why I'm not sure if I would be cut out for a full-time faculty job. Aye, aye, aye.
I have been in that meeting...on both sides (faculty and administration) of the table. And in that circumstance, I always remember a song ("Permanent Change") I heard Johnny Rivers sing:

"You only get what you give
The way you die is the way you live
And what you want is not always what you need
Yeah, you might want it today
But tomorrow you'll throw it away
And the only think that's permanent is change."
That's "the only THING that's permanent is change."

I didn't get where I am because I can type.
Yep! and no. Because I've been on faculty governance bodies that do manage to get such things done. Yes, it takes time. But last year, the representative governance faculty group at my CC managed to review 20 major policies and rewrite and submit them to the Faculty Senate for approval so they could be sent on to the Board. This was done by about 25 reps, plus additional subcommittee volunteers, and during the time that the faculty was undergoing a no-confidence vote in the college president. Of course, the n-c vote meant that we had several extra Faculty Senate meetings over the year, so we could get a couple of extra things done.

What I've also seen (and this is in no way meant as a rebuttal or defense of faculty -- just a comment) is that there are often old guard faculty and administrators who promise changes quickly -- and even decide what new policies are going to be -- without even thinking about the process or doing any groundwork. Lots of time, that means setting false expectations and causing unnecessary friction.
With our faculty union, we can draw up memoranda of agreement between the faculty and administration that implement such small changes, then they are rolled into the full agreement at the next negotiation.
At at least one school I've taught at, this would all require the hiring of a high level administrator, who would need a newly redecorated office and a personal administrative assistant... and then they'd have to hire someone else to do the assessment process.
Have Western Union send you a telegram in five years! It worked for Michael J. Fox . . .
Western Union doesn't send telegrams anymore.
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