Setting Down the Cups, A Tale of Two Speeches, Pt. 2

Two days ago, I posted on our college president's attempt to shame us into compliance (how dare we be unhappy) by drawing a metaphor of someone serving you pee punch at a party and them blaming you for ruining the party because you wouldn't drink the pee.

Most of us know it's pee and drink the punch anyway because we've been coerced into believing it's for the good of the college and our students. We drink because we believe that in doing so, others will benefit. Yowell & Co. know we'll drink because it's who we are: we care about our students and colleagues. We drink because we might be worried about what will happen if we don't drink, that we'll be fired for not drinking, demoted, arrested, or what ever form of retribution is available. We drink and watch friends suffer or leave, maybe even feeling relief that it wasn't us who bore the brunt the administration's inexplicable whims. And all for the "greater good" of the college.

It's time to put down the cups, stop drinking the pee.

Most of us are silently protesting. Some are visibly and vocally protesting, often at great personal cost. These people are our heros. In standing out, they are telling KY & Co. that they will not be coerced or threatened to accept what isn't right. This, of course, infuriates KY & Co. because their destructive actions require our cooperation.

Ayn Rand's character John Galt gives a 65 page speech outlining Rand's principles of Objectivism in Atlas Shrugged. The novel attempts to illustrate that when the powers-that-be call for continued sacrifice of the individual for the great good of a group, nobody benefits. Galt calls it a society of cannibalism: “As a basic step of self-esteem, learn to treat as the mark of a cannibal any man’s demand for your help. To demand it is to claim that your life is his property--and loathsome as such claim might be, there’s something still more loathsome: your agreement. Do you ask if it’s ever proper to help another man? No--if he claims it as his right or as a moral duty that you owe him. Yes--if such is your own desire based on your own selfish pleasure in the value of his person and his struggle."

My sister is fond of quoting Elanor Roosevelt: "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." Essentially, Galt (and Rand) are saying the same thing.

Galt/Rand's solution to this sort of problem is to stop playing a part in our own destruction:

Now that you know the truth about your world stop supporting your own destroyers. The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction to give it. Withdraw your sanction. Withdraw your support. Do not try to live on your enemies’ terms or to win at a game where they’re setting the rules. Do not seek the favor of those who enslaved you, do not beg for alms from those who have robbed you, be it subsidies, loans or jobs, do not join their team to recoup what they’ve taken by helping them rob your neighbors. One cannot hope to maintain one’s life by accepting bribes to condone one’s destruction. . . Use your mind and skill in private, extend your knowledge, develop your ability, but do not share your achievements with others. Do not try to produce a fortune, with a looter riding on your back. Stay on the lowest rung of their ladder, earn no more than your barest survival, do not make an extra penny to support the looters’ state. Since you’re captive, act as a captive, do not help them pretend that you’re free. Be the silent, incorruptible enemy they dread. When they force you, obey--but do not volunteer. Never volunteer a step in their direction, or a wish, or a plea, or a purpose. Do not help a holdup man to claim that he acts as your friend and benefactor. Do not help your jailers to pretend that their jail is your natural state of existence. Do not help them to fake reality. That fake is the only dam holding off their secret terror, the terror of knowing they’re unfit to exist; remove it and let them drown; your sanction is their only life belt."

This sounds hard. It may seem next to impossible. It may seem unfair to your students. It may seem unfair to you, asking you to give up doing what you love. But how do you benefit from giving away your abilities? You, who goes beyond what you are contractually obligated to do, who takes overload hours either because you need the money or your department is short staffed, who serve as de facto administrators, advisers, IT Support, Custodial, or delivery staff--who benefits from your work? Is it you from extra compensation or recognition? Is it your students, who appreciate what you are doing? Is it the college, who, in turn for your extra work, reduces your pay, increases your duties and your restrictions, fires your colleagues and replaces them with sometimes under-qualified and always under-paid part time replacements, and expects you to remain silent?

Put down the cup of pee.

Our departments are strung along with promises and excuses of "it will get better," "it's only temporary," or "it's beyond our control." How many of us are suckered, coerced, or forced to go beyond what would normally be expected of us for that single catch-all: it's for the good of the college or for good of our students? There are departments without chairs, where the dwindling full time faculty act as undesignated department chairs without recognition and without pay.

Yes, there is a clause in our contracts stipulating "other duties" of our position. Who is to decide what those duties are? What if we were to stop doing all of our extras? It's not your job until you're asked to take it, so stop doing it. If you have no department chair, go to your Dean for every decision you need to make. If you're the Dean and are over-stretched, over-burdened because your VP's refuse to give you support, ask your VP to decide what can fail. If your VP says nothing can fail, ask how you're supposed to do the impossible.

Let's stop doing what's best for the college and focus on only doing our jobs well. How many gaps will that expose? Let's stop attending non-required events and meetings, those mindless social gatherings that make us wonder "where is the money coming from to support this when my department can't afford XYZ?" If they bemoan our lack of attendance, ask if they require us to come to the party to pretend everything is OK. For Academic Senate, stop sharing your good ideas for the collge and simply turn to KY & Co. to ask "what would you order us to do?" Create your ideas, share them with each other, but only bring them out when the "destroyers" are gone. Many faculty take on overload hours. Stop. The school is having trouble finding adjuncts to fill classes--too bad. For those of you leading clubs or acting as unpaid advisers, give them up. Is your program or work giving back to the people who use your work against you? Stop doing it. What sort of press releases would Jack Kramer write if nothing was happening on campus?

As an adjuct, who had hoped for the opportunity to interview for a full-time position once a full time faculty member retired, I know now that there is no future for me at Edison as long as KY & Co. are in charge. My department's chair retired and then another full time member was fired. As enrollments increase, there is no justification for this firing--especially since every student has to take a class in my department. My ideas, lessons I've developed, will remain mine. I will be silent in departmental meetings unless I am asked to contribute something, even though I hold the people in my department in high regard and consider many to be friends. There is no future for me at Edison, there is no future for any adjunct at Edison except for the continued need for adjuncts. So I plan to take my talents elsewhere, even though I am doing it more slowly than I like.

It's the hardest thing to ask of you, to give up what you love to do as a member of the college. It's your love of your discipline that KY & Co. are exploiting. You can still do what you love, but do it for yourself.

You will point out that the college will suffer, that students will suffer. It's true, they will suffer, but only on campus. You can still give your time to your students, but don't do it as part of the college or pretending that you're being compensated by the college. KY & Co. decided that they could run a college like a business and treat us like common barristas rather than the educated professionals we are. Their vision of short-term gain and self-interest through cutting the very heart of the college is destructive and unsustainable. A department cannot exist with one full time faculty and 20+ adjuncts, no matter how much money it saves.

From now on, when you hear the words "for the good of the college" or "for the good of your students," know that the person telling you this really means for the benefit of the administration, who don't care about you at all.

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