Friday, March 8, 2013

"Just what happened here?" "Is this church?" "Again with the delay?"

...Well, I looked at my watch
I looked at my wrist
Punched myself in the face
With my fist
I took my potatoes
Down to be mashed
Then I made it over to
That million dollar bash
Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
It's that million dollar bash...

--Bob Dylan

Ah yes, another go-around on the CSU Merry-go-round and where it stops, nobody knows...

At any rate, after a week of thinking about it, the CSU Board of Trustees decided to play it cautiously once again, as one commentator said, a Neville Chamberlain-like appeasement policy. I was thinking of my fifth-grade nun, Sister Mary Reginette, telling us that a dilemma is like a mule tied evenly between two feeding troughs who dies from starvation because he can't decide which one to eat.

So just what happened here? The Board voted NO to Dr Watson's sabbatical (uh-oh, shoulda taken that deal last week--$250,000 for a year off of "research" although Dr Watson seemed ultimately to need a family leave, but why quibble at these distinctions now). So that deal is off. The Board also said it found enough evidence to pursue an investigation into various allegations about Dr Watson's actions (was this in hiring? I can't remember) and they were giving him and his attorney some time to respond to these allegations--June? Unfortunately, this is going to drag out through April, May and into June. No resolution about this until the end of June of this year. The board also voted to delay election of new board chairperson. The next board meeting is in May.

So just what happened here? What does this all mean? Not sure yet exactly. The church and community leaders and I guess Emil Jones seemed to take it as a vindication of Dr. Watson with all the righteous Jesus language and promises to be more involved in CSU. These same folk said more or less the same thing when Leon Finney brought them up to advocate on Emil's choice in 2009 at the Trustee meeting back then. They come, they go, they really are disconnected from the place. I am not their audience why should I listen to them?

So just what happened here? There was no vote to retain or dismiss Dr Watson as president. He is still in the president's office. No police force is hustling him off campus.  But there is a big matzo ball hanging out there. Is he a lame duck? Death by a thousand paper cuts? What does the Trustees' investigation have on him? If he and his lawyer can't explain himself then will we be going through all this in June? Does the board plan on firing if he can't explain this item? Since there is no money on the table any longer can we hope for him to just resign and leave peacefully? (I know, I know LOL).

Matzo Ball #2. How  is governance on this campus going to take place? Relations between the President and the Board, the President and the faculty, are now so abysmally low with many sides distrustful. Can these relations heal? Does anyone even want to try? Not a lot of love lost across campus constituencies. 

Public Comment after the Board's announcement of all the above.  I stopped listening to it after the third or fourth minister got up and started talking Jesus to us and fire and brimstone about putting Wayne Watson on trial as if we all weren't sinners. Oy veh.  I wasn't their intended audience anyway so why bother listening.  What do these church people really know about CSU? And puh-leeze, Victor Henderson, VP Angela Henderson's husband, Dr Watson's "personal" attorney, spouting scripture in his public comments? This after a week of slimey tactics maligning two board members, the provost and the president of the faculty senate and a most aggressive campaign to portray his client as, well, a modern-day Jesus Christ. What is the definition of blasphemy these days?  Hypocrisy seemed to rule. Self-described "taxpayer" Hermene Hartman, publicist for the southside politicians, bitterly claimed her right to 20 or 30 minutes of fame at the microphone (or that's what it felt like anyway) when told her two minutes were up exclaiming on something or other about Dr Watson. Alderman someone or other was there, but no Jesse Jackson, some rep. I was really hoping to hear that guy. I left when godfather Emil Jones got up to bloviate about the challenge to his power over his personal fiefdom we call CSU. As a faculty member, I wasn't his audience anyway.

The highpoint of this long afternoon as it often has been was our students. They are tuned in and turned on to us and most spoke more eloquently than all the bluster coming out of the southside minsters' mouths. This was where the sincerity was all day, their hearts were in it. I only wish it hadn't had to end in tears for a couple of them. At any rate, we'll see them and ourselves through the next few months of limbo.


  1. Anyone who is interested in knowing how Wayne Watson uses City College resources to aid his friends and promote himself, look at this article. It has two videos imbedded, one Watson had made for Emil Jones (that cost City Colleges dearly), and one a shameless self-promotion.

  2. You found the students the highlight? I found us the worst part of the day. While the VERY few that showed did a fine job, and the frustration manifested in the tears of Ebony an Anacastia were truly from the heart, 98% of the student body continue their bovine indifference to how the corrupt administration is destroying the value of the investment they are making in themselves.

    We won't act in our own best interests, and thereby allow the preachiticians who really run the school to act in THEIR best interests.

  3. C'mon TP you know your stats are off. Our students are far more interested and involved than I think we have a right to expect. And for this spectacle that Dr Watson has dragged us through for the past two weeks no university should have to have gone through. In fact, I wonder what other university has seen so many politicians come out over what should have been a slam-dunk academic matter?

    Emil Jones told the board last week he wished to give his foundation's lousy $200,000 to someplace else because of their persecution of Dr Watson. That tells us how much these politicians who put our "president" in power really care about the "students." The problem isn't that the students don't know this, they do, it's that they shouldn't have to be spending their time on campus shouting these liars down.

    What I would like to know is when the likes of Emil Jones and Wayne Watson are going to step aside in favor of the younger African American leadership in "the community?" WVON is crowing about the attack on African American male leadership, what about the women? Instead of tarring Trustee Rozier for trying to run CSU like a university instead of a political football field, they should be supporting him and encouraging new leaders. We have them, we know them on campus, but I wonder why they are so cowed by the likes of Jones and Watson to come out from their quarters? The students' tears were genuine and I'm sure they represented more than themselves in honest emotion compared to the cynical pontifications of the ministers and politicians.

    1. I am wary of Corday's assumption that Rozier and other trustees would, if given the chance, put professional (bourgeois) leadership in place at CSU. Perhaps but perhaps not. Perhaps there is truth to Watson's accusation that they represent different interests. One of my principles is that politicians never tell the truth--except when they are saying negative things about other politicians. (That explains negative TV ads: they are the only way that politicians can simultaneously say something true and helpful to themselves.) In any event the important thing is for students and faculty to organize themselves as voices for the educational functions of Chicago State and maintain our integrity and independence of political figures.

  4. TP, please keep in mind that this student body is largely made up of full time working adults who not only are working to obtain a degree, they are also raising children and supporting their families. When they leave work at 5pm, they put on their coats and head to CSU to slowly chip away class by class for a degree. This is not an issue that students should have to be fighting for when in fact, they are struggling to just get to class to learn. As for the younger people who attend CSU, how are they to know that they should react when their instructors are scared to even express their concern regarding the issues at hand and the news media publishes propaganda that shows Watson in favorable light?

    I am not trying to make excuses for the students for not being involved, I'm just stating why they are not involved. I myself am in awe and total disbelief at the colossal mismanagement of this university. I cannot believe that the Board of Trustees did not have the balls to take a stand against this man. They just pushed the entire issue aside until June in hopes that the entire thing will die down. Well now we have 3 months to get everybody on campus informed and involved, and we should look positively towards that goal. Let's not be afraid of Watson and his political bullies who only come out of the woodwork to back him up.

  5. The corrupt administration, spineless board and bovine student body have FORCED me to re evaluate continuing my education at Chicago State. Am I better off staying on schedule to receive my MA in history in May, 2014 at CSU, or am I better off delaying finishing my post grad degree to a later date, and borrowing more money to get it, at another campus? I'm less than two miles from the UIC campus, for instance, and I am SURE that an MA from UIC will not be snickered at, while an MA from CSU will carry with it the danger of being all but without value.

    I will take part in ONE MORE effort to awaken the sheep that make up the vast majority of the student body on the Chicago State campus and mobilize them to take part in the May, 2013 BOT meeting. But, at the end of the day, if lil Wayne survives the June 30 deadline set by the board to complete their investigation into his wrongdoings, I am outta here.

    I have to protect my investment.