The controversy over the university’s ham-handed attempt to censor faculty and staff reached a crescendo yesterday as, according to several witnesses, at least one administrator felt the need to verbally accost and attempt to physically intimidate one of the faculty members who demonstrated the temerity to challenge this ill-conceived policy.
While the faculty member passed out leaflets at the Michelle Alexander program, the university counsel, Patrick Cage, esq., approached, and wildly gesticulating with his index finger, loudly berated the faculty member for disagreeing with the university’s new computer use policy, for which he (Mr. Cage) claimed authorship. Mr. Cage reminded the faculty member that he (the faculty member) was “not an attorney,” and that he (Mr. Cage) “stood behind” the constitutionality of his policy. In full view of several other members of the university community, Mr. Cage, with CSU’s chief of police standing silently next to him, continued his tirade for several minutes, all the while standing directly in front of and quite close to the faculty member.
I am not in a position to speak to Mr. Cage’s competence as an attorney, although I showed the computer policy to a friend who is an attorney and watched her read it with increasing amusement. When she had finished perusing the document she said, “no attorney could have written this--it is so vague and contradictory--it is simply unenforceable. If an attorney did write this, he or she should be fired.”
Nonetheless, I think it is fair to say that in the intellectual argument arena, Mr. Cage fell rather short in this situation. Rather than mount an intellectual attack on his opponent’s argument, he resorted to volubility and crude physical interposition to make his points, leading me to believe that his intellectual fuel tank must have been on empty. I wonder if he has any intellectual defense for his “policy?” In any event, this is an alarming way for a top university official to behave at a public university event.
On another topic, I find it interesting that the story on Wayne Watson’s lucrative sick leave buyout with the City Colleges has not appeared in any of the local newspapers. I guess in the political cesspool of Chicago, this kind of stuff really is not newsworthy. With city colleges doling out seven million dollars to various recipients, including our “half-million dollar man,” it makes one wonder how flush with money that system must be. Spare me the legal niceties over this issue, it may be legal under Illinois law (there’s an oxymoron), but that certainly doesn’t make it right, or ethical. Indeed, think of what this kind of payout really means. The state’s taxpayers are rewarding someone in an administrative position for simply coming to work, an endeavor for which the employee is already amply compensated. In this state, it is possible to work full-time while drawing a full pension and, in addition, to be rewarded to the tune of $16,000 per year of previous service simply for showing up. No wonder our pensions are under attack.