Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Once more to the bargaining table...

For those who may not have seen the latest about our "online time reporting" duty see the message below.  Thanks Laurie and the UPI team for keeping on top of this.
Heavy sigh...
Dear CSU/UPI Members,
You have probably already received notices from Human Resources about online time reporting for faculty starting on Thursday; ASPs have been reporting their time online since July. We had previously agreed to having our members report leave taken, known as negative time reporting (which is what the ASPs have been doing) but the current push is for reporting of hours worked (positive time reporting) to which we have not agreed. The university administration has ignored our demand to bargain their proposed change, as well as our demand that they delay implementation of any such change until bargaining has taken place. We have contacted our legal representatives and should hear from them before Thursday; meanwhile, if you do your online time reporting before we have an answer, follow the instructions in the form but then e-mail Human Resources (rmitch26@csu.edu), copied to me (lwalter@csu.edu) saying that you filed under protest. That way, they can't use your compliance this time as a precedent for future time reporting.
If you don't know how to fill out the form, don't hesitate to let HR know that the training opportunities were insufficient.
I will let you know as soon as we have heard from the lawyers.
In solidarity,

Monday, January 21, 2013

Response to the Human Resources Investigation

As one of the authors of the investigative report on the August Criminal Justice hiring, I find the investigative report by Renee Mitchell a truly disappointing misrepresentation of the events surrounding that search. Since the Senate investigation dealt with only one of the three allegations she was charged to look into, my response will deal only with that allegation.

The October 5, 2012, charge from Dr. Napoleon Moses asked Renee Mitchell to “Determine if institutional faculty hiring procedures were followed with particular emphasis placed on whether faculty representation was present on the Search Committees for each faculty member hired.”

The response to that charge should have been short and straightforward: no on both counts. Here is what the investigative finding should have been: 1) The August Criminal Justice hiring contravened institutional faculty hiring procedures. The Search committee included only administrators (the Criminal Justice Department Chair, the Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and an Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences), a clear violation of university procedures. 2) Of the three new faculty hired subsequent to the search, only one non-tenured faculty member examined the file of one successful candidate: Lewis Myers. At the time the search commenced on August 9, this faculty member had the responsibility for the pre-semester advising of hundreds of students. This faculty member did not recommend that Lewis Myers be hired. In fact, of the 119 applicants for the position(s), Criminal Justice faculty vetted only 14 prior to interviews commencing. Neither of the department’s tenured faculty saw any of the files, and no faculty, tenured or otherwise, participated in the interviews for any of the three candidates who were subsequently hired.

Ignoring these already established facts, Renee Mitchell's report reads like this: “Allegation #1 is unfounded. While faculty members did not participate in all of the interviews, an opportunity did exist.” However, by the time one of the tenured members of the department discovered that interviews were being conducted, several had already occurred. The Department Chair did not officially notify the faculty of the interview schedule until the evening of August 14, at which point five interviews had already taken place. Eventually, one tenured faculty member interviewed three candidates and the non-tenured faculty member interviewed one. Instead of a faculty-driven process, the search unfolded with three administrators on the search committee vetting the applicant files, determining the list of candidates for on-campus interviews, doing the majority of the interviews and determining the final candidates to present to the administration for a hiring decision. As I have pointed out before, University policy clearly vests in the department faculty the responsibility for reviewing applicant files, determining the best candidates for interview, conducting the interviews and formulating a list of potential hires. I have to ask how anyone could conclude that a faculty hiring process that almost totally excludes faculty conforms to University policy.

The troubling conclusions of this report are underpinned by some questionable assertions. The report indicates that “CJ Faculty Member #1 (Dr. Thomson) provided three (3) names: two (2) names from the search under question; and one (1) name previously recommended from prior search. Of the two names recommended from the search under question, one (1) candidate was hired” This is untrue. Dr. Thomson’s top three recommendations included no one who was hired. He had not interviewed April Bernard because her interview occurred before he arrived on campus on August 14. Neither he nor anyone else from the Criminal Justice faculty interviewed Lewis Myers or Andre Grant. In addition, Dr. Thomson made his recommendations more than one hour after the Department Chair requested contact information for three persons subsequently hired, an indication that the decision had already been made.

The report also indicates that “the Dean was also aware that two (2) faculty members were assigned to the search committee for the criminal justice hires. This official records from Human Resources render this assertion false. In fact, the three members of the search committee included only administrators.

I will not again go into the Board of Trustees policies that define who is and who is not an administrator, that information is available on the internet for anyone who wishes to peruse it. Suffice to say, administrators are not faculty and a search committee composed exclusively of administrators simply does not include faculty participation. Of course, an investigation conducted by an individual who serves at the pleasure of the president might be expected to contort itself to creatively interpret those policies and reach conclusions about the administration’s activities than differ from those articulated by the earlier investigators.

While this Human Resources report will undoubtedly provide ammunition for those individuals who think the opposition to this president is misguided, it also provides a useful insight into how this administration responds to faculty concerns. Simply put, the administration hijacked this search, violated university policy and created unnecessary uproar. This cynical and self-serving administrative whitewash does not change those facts.

More on the Criminal Justice Search 2012--now compare the narratives

At the complaint of faculty in the Criminal Justice Department over the hiring of three new members in August the Senate conducted an investigation which condemned Administrators, notably the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Chair of Criminal Justice, for failure to follow established proper academic procedures and especially the failure to involve the Criminal Justice faculty in any meaningful way.

Last week a memo was circulated to faculty which offers the Administration's perspective on the hiring process in Criminal Justice. Dr Renee Mitchell of the Human Resources Department of Chicago State University conducted the investigation and that report as well as the report of the Senate are available at the link below. If I read it correctly H.R. absolves the administration from any wrongdoing paradoxically she recommends that the CSU hiring policy be revised.

See what you think about these competing narratives--the Senate report and the H.R. report. Both are linked below.

I wonder what the Illinois Inspector General's Office would say about the situation presented here?

Criminal Justice Search --Senate Rept vs H.R. Investigation Rept.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Is the plagiarism warning on syllabi racist?

The office of the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences has asked all faculty to include the following statement on their syllabi:
Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct : ‘Academic misconduct includes but is not limited to cheating, encouraging academic dishonesty, fabrication, plagiarism, bribes, favors, threats, grade tampering, non-original work, and examination by proxy. Procedures regarding academic misconduct are delineated in “Student Policies and Procedures” article X, section 2. If an incident of academic misconduct occurs, the instructor has the option to notify the student and adjust grades downward, award a failing grade for the semester, or seek further sanctions against the student.’
I objected to this statement. I wrote the following: "I do not wish to put this statement on my syllabi for principled reasons. First, the statement is in quotation marks (oddly using the British convention rather than the American), and no source is given, violating my stipulation to my students that any quoted matter must be properly cited. Second, the statement conveys a hostile and threatening tone, one I do not wish to convey to my students; I go to great lengths to convey to my students that I am there to help them become more capable, a message at great variance from the tone and message of the above statement. The statement replicates several from the administration threatening sanctions if we do not do what the administration says. I do not wish to speak to my students in that fashion.
"What do others think?"
Only one person from the dean's office responded, and that person is to be commended for engaging the issue. The response was this: "The plagiarism statement has quotation marks around it because it was copied word for word from the statement used in the syllabus of a colleague in the college of Arts and Sciences. I asked permission to use it, and the faculty member said sure, but that it had been copied work for word from somewhere else. The quotation marks are therefore an artifact of the unclear provenance of statement but a recognition of the fact that it was copied word for word. There is no conspiracy."
I replied: :"Of course, the remark about the quotation marks without citation was not my main point but a 'dig' at the failure to cite in a remark about plagiarism. To repeat my main point:
“'I would prefer to assume that, of course, no one would cheat and then deal with misconduct as it may arise. If one person says to another, "I expect you to be honest," it expresses the possibility that someone might not be honest and is an insult to that person. We assume honesty; it goes without saying. We deal with dishonesty if we must.' [I was quoting from a response to my coordinator's efforts to justify the statement; I had forwarded the correspondence between myself and the coordinator to the deans and chairs.]
“What do the rest of you think about this point as an objection to the plagiarism statement on a syllabus?”
Again, among the deans and chairs only a single dean responded, writing, “I suppose the same could be said about almost anything – traffic rules, house rules, what is considered a criminal offence, tax laws, property transfers,… there are rules and regulations, and they are [usually] written down.  And they do not suggest that everyone is dishonest unless proved otherwise. Academic integrity is at the foundation of our enterprise – and maybe it appears to some individuals  that all students and faculty understand and adopt it, but a university education is also increasingly a credentialing process, a means to an end, where  the exigencies of the deadline or grade affect performance and practice.  ….
“… it makes more sense to arrange a forum/teach in – faculty, students, judicial affairs, journalists, researchers, etc.
“If you yourself choose to have some other statement about academic integrity, have it as a topic of learning and discussion in your classes so that students know the issues, consequences and concerns, you could do so.  Keep in mind that when a student does cheat, the university takes it seriously, and we do not want to hear ‘everybody does it’,  ‘I didn’t’ know it was wrong’, ‘you didn’t say we couldn’t copy’.”
I replied: “I would love to do a forum on the topic. I believe it would be immensely helpful. But it should be phrased as a question: how should faculty deal with cheating? Or something like that?
“NO ONE should infer that I tolerate cheating. I don’t. However, I deal with it as the behavior of an individual, not the class. The only thing I say (I don’t write it down) is that I am there to help them to read with better comprehension of complex texts and to help them to write more clearly and precisely about complex ideas which may not be their own ideas; then I say, “When you write I want your own bad writing. If you wrote like a professional you would not need to be in college. So give me your own writing so that I can help you to write better.” And I spend a lot of time with students in one-on-one or small group sessions going over their papers (because they have to rewrite them; they weren’t good enough).
“I do not believe that a schedule of assignments for a class is the same as saying ‘you need to be honest’ to students. The former represents a schedule of what we will do so that students understand the class requirements. The latter is an insult to the student.
“The point about the change in the nature of universities is obviously relevant; so also is the observation that, in a predominately black university, racist assumptions about student behavior may creep in. In my classes I have read aloud the university’s ‘Code of Excellence’ to illustrate how negative racial stereotyping of black people plays out at Chicago State. The bookstore will not let students into the textbook aisles ‘because they might steal.’ Students sign up for financial aid at the last minute ‘because they are ghetto.’ Do you think that the University of Chicago requires that all syllabi contain a statement about academic misconduct?
“[to the dean who engaged my objection to the plagiarism statement] thank you for engaging in a conversation on these issues. What do others think?”
Since writing that I checked what NCATE asks for, and that don’t ask for a plagiarism warning.
And what do readers of this post think? Is the plagiarism statement racist? Am I off base?