Blaise Pascal, Penseé 347: “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this. All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.”

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Logo: Consultation by Osmosis

Between what I have already said about “declarative consultation” and Dean Vida Samiian’s statement at the last Senate meeting, there is little to add about the logo. Like it or hate it, the Senate was not consulted about it.

At the April 9 Senate meeting, scrambling to address the problem, and having only 3 more days until the logo was “unveiled,” Jacinta Amaral wrote the motion which was the subject of debate at the last meeting, by hastily writing it out on the back of an envelope and presenting it on the floor. She was doing what the faculty in the Senate have been doing since November: reacting to an emergency created by the administration. These emergencies are not accidents. They are a strategy to keep the main body of the Academic Senate, the committees, and the faculty at large, in the dark until the last moment about policy changes (e. g., minor changes like getting rid of two schools) and initiatives that are likely to be very unpopular. To put it bluntly, it’s a strategy to blow things by the faculty.

It is clear now that the main problem the Senate needs to address is lack of consultation about the logo, not cost, but Amaral’s motion, like Chris Henson’s original motion about cohort hiring, was the finger plugging the hole in the dike, buying the faculty time to learn more and make amendments. Clearly, the resolution needs amendment to focus on the way the Senate was cut out of consultation. That can be easily done at the next meeting.

There are two weak attempts going on in the Senate to derail the motion on the logo. One was the suggestion that motions ought to go to committee first. Had the faculty used that strategy this year, we’d have two fewer schools at this point. Again, the administrative policy of concealment is what has injured the normal functioning of the Senate, forcing the body of the Senate to respond as it has.

The second attempt was a suggestion that because two people from Arts & Humanties were in the group working on the logo, one of whom was Joe Diaz, the associate dean, that surprise to the faculty was avoided. This might be referred to as “consultation by osmosis,” and take its place along “declarative consultation” in the lexicon of administrative legerdemain. The point is, the faculty was supposed to be surprised: that was part of the schtick that was offered to us on April 12; certainly people on the task force developing the logo were told not to publicize it before the big event. Come to the great “unveiling.” Find out what’s behind curtain number 1. You can’t give people a logo surprise if you’ve consulted them about the logo any more than you can give your wife a surprise anniversary present after having consulted her about size, color, fabric, brand, and catalog page.

Well, the surprise worked. But we would rather have been consulted. 

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