Friday, December 20, 2013

A Revision and Correction

My September 16, 2013 post "Patronage or just a reward for services rendered?" requires some clarification. I indicated that eight administrators had received raises in the past two years that averaged 17.65 percent. I should point out that one of the administrators I mentioned, Dr. Yvonne Harris has enjoyed only a 7.9 percent raise in the past two years. Dr. Harris began her employment at Chicago State on August 16, 2010, at a monthly salary of $9833. I mistakenly used the university's ISL 2012 fiscal year submission as Harris's annual starting salary (103,247) in 2010. Based on her monthly salary I should have calculated it as $117,996 annually. This recalculation results in a change in the percentage raises for the eight administrators I mentioned in the post. Instead of an average raise of 17.65 percent for the past two years, their average raise stands at 17.5 percent for the past two years.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

More Administrative Lies and Blatant Cronyism: Angela Henderson, Wayne Watson and the University of Illinois Chicago

Wayne Watson's Crony Handbook: Chapter Three

Rule 1. Don't let your commitment to cronyism waver in academic situations.
Rule 2. Don't limit your patronage activities to simple bread-and-butter issues.
Rule 3. Make sure that your friends obtain the degree necessary to provide cover for their outrageous promotions.
Rule 4. Don't be satisfied to pollute just your own institution when you can tarnish the reputation of another school.

By now, most of us know some of the things Wayne Watson’s administration stands for: crony hiring, retentions and promotions, interference in matters that should be the province of faculty and turning a blind eye to lies by high-ranking administrators with personal ties to him or his friends. He likes to style himself an “educator,” a meaningless term when applied to someone with his meager teaching credentials. His admirers are always careful to refer to him as “Dr. Watson,” a title he earned in 1972. Since then his non-existent scholarly production has made a mockery of the “privileges and responsibilities” of the degree. His contempt for academics seeps through in various ways, most recently in the appointment of a completely unqualified interim Provost.

Angela Henderson recently completed her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois Chicago. A brief glance at her dissertation reveals a couple of interesting things: first, in what can only be classified as a stunning example of cronyism, Wayne Watson, who clearly desired to promote Henderson to her current position, and who was represented in March 2013 by Henderson's husband, sat on her dissertation committee. Certainly, Henderson stood to benefit materially from Wayne Watson's presence as one of her examiners. Second, one portion of her dissertation proves that information she provided on official documents when she was hired in 2011 was a bald-faced lie.

In part, a university provost is expected to advocate for faculty. That may sometimes result in the provost disagreeing or opposing the university president. Since Wayne Watson’s voice comes out of Henderson every time she speaks, is that the case here? In fact, Henderson idolizes Watson, as her dissertation acknowledgments clearly demonstrate.

Here is the composition of her committee:

Here is Henderson's acknowledgement of Watson's presence on her committee. The word hyperbole hardly does this groveling, adulatory encomium justice:

Now, let us take a look at the lie Henderson told on both her resume and application in 2011. On November 6, 2013, in my discussion of her application and resume I described her claim that she would receive her PhD in June 2011 as "apparently untruthful, and at best misleading." Here are her documents. The application submitted March 18, 2011:

The resume:

I can now say with assurance that she knew for certain that these claims were false when she submitted the application and resume. For her project, she had to receive IRB approval before beginning her research. That did not come until February 13, 2012. Here is the form from her dissertation:

As you can see from the IRB form, Henderson could not begin her research until February 13, 2012. In the coming days, I look forward to reading the rest of Henderson's dissertation.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Flim Flam Man as University President--Wayne Watson's Curriculum Vitae

Wayne Watson's Crony Handbook, Chapter 2: Sweet Home Chicago, or how to parlay non-existent scholarly activity and virtually non-existent university teaching experience into a lucrative urban administrative career.

Rule 1: Don't publish anything.
Rule 2: Don't teach very much.
Rule 3: Keep your C.V. a secret.

For his most ardent supporters, Wayne Watson's greatness is indisputable. In early 2010, I overheard Leon Finney call Watson "the finest educator of our time." In March 2013, Watson's attorney compared his client to Jesus of Nazareth and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Just yesterday one of Watson's top administrators rose at the Board of Trustees meeting to bear witness to Wayne Watson's greatness as a "leader." Watson has garnered numerous awards from outside groups with which he has close political connections attesting to his greatness as an "educator" and "leader." This is the narrative that his most fawning acolytes have disseminated through a variety of media outlets. For my part, I would be satisfied with simple competence.

There is also an extant counter-narrative. In this narrative, Watson is portrayed as a petty little dictator, a cowardly bully with a profound ignorance of academic matters and a proven propensity for vindictiveness. In this narrative, Watson, has been a colossal administrative failure at both City Colleges and here at Chicago State. These competing narratives have different types of evidence, much of which has been presented on this blog. However, there is one piece of evidence that has heretofore been missing: the C.V. of the great man himself. According to one member of the 2009 Presidential Advisory Committee, that committee did not see Watson's C.V. during the selection process for Frank Pogue's successor as Chicago State President.

Now, thanks to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, we have the opportunity to examine Wayne Watson's C.V. As you do so, I would ask that you keep in mind what you think are the desired qualifications for a university president then see if they are present in Watson's resume. I would also ask you to consider why this document has been such a closely held secret, after all, the president of Chicago State is a public figure who should be delighted to share his formidable academic credentials with the outside world.

At the PEC meeting on November 6 (the same meeting at which Patrick Cage discovered the existence of the Faculty Voice blog), Watson bemoaned the "incivility" of the posts on the blog and reportedly asked someone (paraphrased) "how would you feel if your resume was on the blog?" After today, Watson will have no need to ask that question, he will know how it feels to have his resume on the blog. This is the C.V. Watson submitted to Chicago State during the search for a new president in 2009.

The first six pages are basically a catalog of Watson's "accomplishments" in various administrative positions at the City Colleges. It begins with Watson as Chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago:

On page two he continues his catalog of achievements as City Colleges Chancellor:

The parade of achievements as Chancellor continues on page three:

On page four, Watson finishes his narrative about his Chancellorship and talks about his presidency at Kennedy-King:

On page five, Watson details additional administrative experience:

Page six concludes Watson's narrative about his City College administrative experience:

On page seven, Watson describes his position as Headmaster of Boggs Academy in Georgia and his first job with City Colleges:

At the bottom of page eight, Watson lists his only "scholarly" achievements. They are under the description of "Major Papers" and are presented without reference to any venue and for two of them no dates. This is the sum total of Watson's scholarly production since receiving his Ph.D. in 1972. This page also includes Watson's only full-time teaching experience:

The final page of Watson's C.V. details a variety of materials including his additional adjunct teaching experience. This brings his aggregate teaching experience to three full-time years plus two adjunct courses:

This concludes Wayne Watson's curriculum vitae. In my estimation, it explains much. Based on his various "accomplishments" since receiving his Ph.D. he is not even tenurable at Chicago State, let alone fit to be president. Thus, he has no conception of what it means to be a faculty member much less an administrator at a university. Wayne Watson simply lacks the requisite qualifications for the position he holds, as do many of his top administrators: Angela Henderson, Cheri Sidney and Tyra Austin, all of whom lied on their applications and/or resumes. As is Angela Henderson, Watson may be qualified for an entry-level position as an Assistant Professor. My final questions are these: this guy decides which faculty applicants are worthy of employment at Chicago State? he decides who is worthy of retention, promotion and tenure? What a scam perpetrated on the Chicago State community and the taxpayers of Illinois.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Wayne Watson Crony Handbook--How to Fund Your Unqualified Girlfriend's Administrative Job

"In the public sphere . . . cronyism . . . undermine[s] the common good. When someone is granted a position because of connections rather than because he or she has the best credentials and experience, the service that person renders to the public may be inferior. Also, because favoritism is often covert . . . this practice undercuts the transparency that should be part of governmental hiring and contracting processes."

Excerpted from:

Now, how do I slide my girlfriend into a plum senior administrative position?

This is the first of two blog posts that will detail the administrative machinations that brought us Wayne Watson’s girlfriend as a senior university administrator and allow her to remain in that position. In subsequent posts, I will discuss how if you are the president's girlfriend you can lie on your application and/or resume and retain your position. I will also have the privilege of sharing with you the sterling C.V. of our president. As you may recall, Watson officially assumed his duties as president on October 1, 2009. Less than a week later, the university hired Sidney into a newly created position: Associate Director of Human Resources. The university started Sidney at a salary of $90,000 per year, with $60,000 to be paid between her starting date in November 2009 and the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2010.

As the FY 2010 Fiscal Year Request for Funding indicates, only $28,392 existed in the budget to cover the expense of Sidney’s salary, a shortfall of $31,608. As the memorandum of October 13, 2009 from Renee Mitchell to Wayne Watson demonstrates, the university made up the difference by transferring funds from two sources: the University Contingency Reserve and the General Administration Personnel Budget (pages 15 and 17 of the 2011 Chicago State University Internal Operating Budget).

In order to pay Sidney her $90,000 salary in fiscal 2011, it was necessary to transfer $35,796 from the General Administration Personnel Budget to Human Resources, as the Budget Change Form dated 10/29/09 reveals:

This seems like a nice job with a good salary. However, when you are the president’s girlfriend, you get promoted quickly at Chicago State. On June 1, 2010, the administration elevated Sidney to the position of Director of Enrollment Management, another newly created position. This promotion included a $5,004 raise, taken out of the budgeted salary of the the Vice President of Enrollment Management, as is apparent from the Budget Change Form.

From the Personnel Change Notice, you’ll discover that the Associate Director’s job held by Sidney terminated on May 31, 2010, never to appear again in the Chicago State budget:

Sidney’s next promotion came quickly again. On September 1, 2011, she ascended to the position of Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management. Again, her previous job disappeared from the university budget. As the Personnel Change Notice reveals, this promotion included a $15,000 raise, meaning that Sidney’s salary had increased 22 percent in less than 2 years:

Since her only qualifications for any of the jobs seemed to be her personal involvement with Watson, it seems fair to say that It really pays to be involved in a romantic relationship with Chicago State’s president.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Board of Trustees Meeting on Friday the 13th: "Are we better off than we were in 2008?"

It's perfect isn't it? The Board of Trustees will meet on Friday the 13th to vote formally on retaining Dr Watson's "services" for another 2 years. Another day for an unlucky university. The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers often refer to the "beleaguered president" of Chicago State but it's really the other way around, the beleaguered university that has to endure decade after decade as the political football of the state of ILL's university system.

Disconnects at and about CSU exist on so many levels. On Thursday morning, Nov. 21st, the week before Thanksgiving, I received a news link from a colleague that the story on Chicago State’s ‘cease and desist’ letter that had gone viral had made it across the Atlantic. A British publication,The Times Higher Education, made it the center of Chris Parr’s The Scholarly Web - 21 November 2013, “Weekly transmissions from the blogosphere.”

Many university employees like to blog. They do it to gather their thoughts in one place, pass comment on current affairs, or vent their frustration at the annoyances of everyday life…However, when their posts get too close to the bone for their employer, it can lead to conflict, as has happened at Chicago State University in Illinois. The institution’s lawyers have sent a “cease and desist” letter to staff running an online publication

Yet by the time I was heading home in the early evening a copy of the Nov. 21, 2013 Chicago Defender appeared in our department (compliments of Interim Provost Angela Henderson who made sure every department on campus received a copy) with its front page dominated by a picture of Wayne Watson with the caption: “Chicago State’s Dr. Wayne Watson: Having a Golden November…” The article describes the awards he has garnered this fall. In case you want to know what they are see the CSU website’s main pages that act as a living c.v. for him—or see birobi’s previous blog post. Since N’Digo Magazine seems to be on its last legs, I guess Hermene Hartmann’s torch as shill for the southside politicians and their friends has been passed to The Defender—although its editors too have been long-time bffs with Dr. W.

In reporting on the “Educational Leadership Award” Dr Watson received from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Ronald E. Childs, Interim (they have them there too) Publisher/Executive Editor writes very oddly that “November 2013 has proven a prophetic month thus far for Chicago State University (CSU) president Dr. Wayne D. Watson.”


And further on:

“…Though HBCUs stand strong, more viable and more necessary than ever, it’s a vulnerable time. He [Watson] shared that vision personally and passionately with the editorial board of The Chicago Defender earlier this year, when his tenure at CSU appeared threatened by anonymous forces within. As the time-honored saying goes, you just can’t keep a good man down.”

It is an Orwellian universe, isn’t it? The Defender’s obfuscations notwithstanding we know there were no “anonymous forces within” CSU trying to threaten Dr Watson’s tenure. The Board of Trustees had a full-on investigation of him at least from November and December and from what we now know that Board was going to terminate him until Governor Quinn and the political machine stepped in to gut the board instead. The Faculty had already voted no confidence in Dr. Watson; the “forces” at CSU were far from anonymous.

And so the two narratives of Dr Watson and his deeds exist side by side: criticized and lionized. Care to guess which narrative the Board of Trustees will buy?

“I Am CSU”
On Friday the 13th the Board of Trustees is supposed to vote in open session to grant Dr Watson a two-year extension to continue doing what he's doing. It’s a board with people connected to Dr Watson—not at all the independent board HLC our accrediting agency claims universities should have oversee them. Tom Wogan, formerly of the Chicago Democratic political machine, has been working very hard this year to get Dr Watson his extension from the Board of Trustees and it’s been like watching a cult of personality develop—all the p.r. that is sent out is about the president. Is Dr Watson the face of CSU?

So, in light of the politically-appointed Trustees’ imminent plan to maintain their politically-connected friend in power, I was thinking of that old chestnut politicians like to ask: "are you better off than you were...?" which made  me think of Peter Laslett's book, The World We Have Lost, that deals with how industrialization changed England and I’m thinking of the world we have lost here at CSU.  So, I ask the question, "Are you better off than you were in 2008?" I'm sure others could add to the list I've been keeping in no particular order; I offer: 

 “The World We Have Lost At CSU”

 1.     Departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Education were smaller, not something verging on community college divisions (btw where did the money go that the forced reorganization was supposed to save?—see #11below maybe?)

2.     Department Chairs were 3-year appointments with a learning curve for their occupants, not 1-year (virtually interim appointments)

3.     No one had ever heard of a 3-year "interim" dean

4.     Presidents understood that faculty hiring was to be in the hands of the faculty; deans and the provost had their roles, but the president’s role was pro forma. Now the President’s role is not just central it is the only one that will count—his decision. This is not an academic institution it is a political ward.

5.     Presidents did not interview faculty candidates (see #4)

6.     Presidents did not conduct their own searches for candidates outside the established bodies.

7.     We actually had provosts who had once been university deans and tenured faculty.

8.     We never had to be vigilant against a president trying to change department DACs.

9.     We never had to be so vigilant against a president trying to micromanage the faculty’s purview over curriculum.

10.  Administrators actually had Ph.D. degrees in research disciplines, not "doctorates" of leadership management.

11.  No one ever heard of 23% raises for administrators when others on campus got 1-3% on average.

12.  We had a real College of Graduate Studies

13.  We had a Dean of Graduate Studies

14.  Enrollment management was focused on enrollment, not a catch-all division or training ground for a provost-to-be.

15.  Lawyers remained in the General Counsel's Office; they did not populate the upper administrative bureaucracy, acting as VPs, let alone as the faculty's contract administrator.

16.  Faculty chose the faculty members to serve on the Presidential and Provost’s searches

17.  Faculty made up @1/3 of the membership of those committees.

18.  At least one president saw herself as the "lead donor" in university fundraising efforts and put her money where her mouth was.

19.  Low morale on campus, especially in the faculty ranks, would not be blamed on “a few disgruntled faculty.”

20.  Faculty actually believed that at least “some” of their service on campus committees was important, not simply “advisory only” [“advisory only”= “we’ll let you spin your wheels for many hours in tedious committee meetings at inconvenient times but in the end we’re going to do what we planned to do without you anyway…”]

21.  Students had a newspaper—(granted it wasn’t as good as it could be, but its last issue was in 2009 and no attempt has been made to revive it). I wonder when the students will be reimbursed for being charged for a non-existent newspaper?

22.  We never had so many politicians populating the pages of our website

 Please feel free to share your additions to the world we have lost at CSU.



Plumbing the Depths of Desperation--The Non-Existent Investigations by the Watson Administration

Wayne Watson’s vindictiveness and propensity for retaliation is well established. The myriad lies told by Watson administrators are well documented. What happens to management when the polluted streams of vengeance and mendacity merge? The confluence creates an administrative “style” devoid of integrity, with a president willing to say or do anything to damage his opponents and to retain his power. Look at some of the highlights of the Watson administration: James Crowley, unwilling to violate the Illinois Ethics Act for Watson–fired; Mary Butler, apparently irritating one of Watson’s cronies in Enrollment Management–fired; Glenn Meeks, openly opposing Watson’s continued presidency–fired; Resche Hines, transgressions unknown–fired. In addition, a number of persons (like Lois Davis) in part unable to stomach the administrative style of Watson and his minions, have either resigned their positions or retired.

Given his seemingly insatiable desire for revenge on his critics or those who do not bend to his will, Watson likes to operate in secret. However, the Illinois Freedom of Information Act enables us to have a look at how he and his administration work to discredit detractors while it simultaneously rewards Watson cronies in spite of their numerous official lies and unsatisfactory performances.

In February and March 2013, Watson fought to retain his job as president of Chicago State. He enlisted the assistance of powerful local politicians who mobilized the “community” in support of Watson’s presidency. For his part, rather than make a positive defense of his performance, Watson chose to hide behind his attorney Victor Henderson (you may remember their appearance on local public television). Their rhetorical strategy revolved around positioning Watson as the victim of a number of conspiratorial forces. As part of this strategy, Watson made a series of accusations against Chicago State board members, the University Provost Sandra Westbrooks and the Faculty Senate President Phillip Beverly. These accusations appeared in a draft of a memorandum which circulated and was viewed by both Westbrooks and Beverly. I published excerpts from this memorandum in a previous post but now offer an unexpurgated version in order to demonstrate the depths to which this administration (and this president) will sink to retain power.

These paragraphs come from page 2 of the Watson memorandum:

Given Watson's claims, I filed a FOIA request for access to the alleged investigative records mentioned in the memorandum. There are some other persons mentioned in the FOIA request. I will explain their inclusion below. Here is a copy of the request:

In truth, there were no investigations, as the university's response to my FOIA request clearly demonstrates:

So, did Wayne Watson lie in his memorandum? I will leave that for you to decide. Just as interesting, despite Renee Mitchell's assurance on November 1, 2013 that the university had taken "appropriate personnel actions" against Cheri Sidney and Tyra Austin for the falsification of official university records, the December 9 FOIA response indicates that apparently no one in the university conducted any investigation on those clear falsifications. Are there different sets of personnel and performance standards for persons who, like Cheri Sidney are involved in a close personal relationship with Wayne Watson? Again, I will leave that for the reader to decide. As for Delores Balogun, she was allegedly terminated from her administrative position at Chicago State because she falsified her resume.

Just as an aside, what do you think of the level of civility demonstrated by the Watson memorandum?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Anatomy of a Scam--How to be the Perennial "Educator of the Year."

Flim Flam 101

Introduction to Fleecing the Rubes--How to Win the Same Award More than Once:

One of the great things about the internet is that often things do not disappear, they sort of float out there waiting to be recovered. Many of you might remember the announcement of Watson's "Educator of the Year" award in 2012. If you look at the news releases on the Chicago State website, it is, unfortunately, gone. However, it is still possible to retrieve the news release by doing a simple search of the site. As a result, we can see how our communications (or whatever they're called) people participate in scamming the university community. Do not take my word for this, however, look at the two announcements side-by-side and decide for yourself if this is an example of the old o-ke doke.

Because of Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 Thurgood Marshall awards gala had to be cancelled. Thus, the organization did not actually present any awards (including Watson's award for "Educational Leadership") in 2012. This is the announcement of the event's cancellation: Nonetheless, the day after the scheduled gala, Chicago State's website carried an announcement that the Thurgood Marshall College Fund had "coined" Watson as "Educator of the Year." Here's the October 30, 2012 announcement from the Chicago State web site (I've put the link into the text in case anyone is interested) of Watson's award in 2012:

Here's the announcement from the Chicago State web site of the same award to Watson in 2013:

Now we know how to turn a single award into multiple awards, simply have a hurricane blow through cancelling the event. When it is held a year later, you can say again that you've been acclaimed the "educator of the year," or something like that. I can only echo the artist on "Cougar 4 Life." "Really?"

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Entertainment and education

So as a political scientist, I understand there are a number of ways that civil discourse or protest or political speech can exist in the public domain. For centuries, music has been one way of expressing dissatisfaction with an oppressive regime. And now a student has ventured into the storied domain of resistance music. For your entertainment and edification I humbly present the following.

I would invite those more learned than me to weigh in on the specifics of this form of expression.

The Flim Flam Man, His Administrative Clown Show and the "Big Con" at Chicago State

In just the past four weeks, Wayne Watson’s Chicago State administration has increased its output of lies, misrepresentations and cynical distortions.

On November 11, Patrick Cage, the university’s lead counsel (and suddenly another Vice President) sent out the now infamous “cease and desist” order citing trademark infringement as a rationale for ordering the faculty voice blog “disabled.” At the time of Cage’s letter guess how many registered trademarks the university held? None would be the correct answer. On December 2, the university responded to a FOIA request for trademark numbers. An examination of the material sent by the university reveals that Chicago State applied for three trademarks on November 14, 2013, three days after Cage’s communication. Anyone interested in following the progress of these applications (one has already been voided because CSU failed to meet minimum filing requirements), can go to the US Patent and Trademark website ( and look up application numbers 86119380 and 86119007. The misfiled application was 86119147.Here is a portion of one of the applications that displays the application date of November 14, 2013:

Around the same time, we found out through the Chicago State Marketing and Communications folks that our wonderful president had received two prestigious awards in November 2013. First, he had been elected Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), second, he had received the Educational Leadership Award from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. It seems like the administration and its mouthpieces want the rubes to believe that these awards somehow mitigate the myriad failures of the Watson administration.

Not surprisingly, given the performance of our flim flam president and his clown show administration, these announcements were not entirely truthful. Watson had been elected as the NAFEO Board Chairman several months earlier, perhaps as long ago as January or February of this year. This link to an announcement of NAFEO’s upcoming conference on April 14-17, 2013 shows Watson as the Board Chair-Elect: As a point of interest, Watson’s predecessor as NAFEO Board Chair, President Ernest McNealey of Stillman College, was abruptly placed on administrative leave by his school in early September and subsequently resigned his position as the college’s president on December 3.

In a similar vein, Watson’s award from the Thurgood Marshall Fund is not exactly what it seems. He originally won the award in 2012 and was to receive it at the fund’s twenty-fifth gala. However, Hurricane Sandy forced the cancellation of the event. Instead, the twenty-fifty gala occurred in 2013 and all of the major award recipients from 2012 received their awards in 2013. While Watson indeed received the award, the recent announcement gave the impression that it was a recent honor, rather than something more than a year old. Here is the 2012 announcement from the Thurgood Marshall website: Anyone taking the time to compare the 2012 announcement with the 2013 university press release will note the similarities, including the theme: “Developing Minds and Delivering Dreams.”

On December 3, 2013, the interim provost claimed that she had never referred to the “invalidity” of the Chicago State Faculty Senate. However, her memorandum of October 31, 2013 to the faculty senate and subsequently the entire university faculty renders her December 3 assertion untrue. Here is the significant paragraph from the provost’s memorandum:

That sounds to me like the provost is talking about the senate's "invalidity."

All these falsehoods are part of the big con that Watson and his minions are running on the students, staff, faculty, alumni and other administrators at Chicago State as well as on the citizens and taxpayers of the state of Illinois. We have an upper administration populated with persons who have falsified their educational or experiential credentials. We have an administration that consistently fails to follow its own policies and procedures while paradoxically being interested in the activities of other university bodies--particularly those bodies that have been or are critical of the president and his administrators. We have a president who cannot even begin to solve the various problems that beset the university but who garners personal awards which can cynically be used in a public relations effort to offset criticism of his activities. Should we next expect an announcement that some political ally of Watson has contributed money to the school?

In the past four years, the Watson administration has proven itself to be venal, incompetent and arrogant. This rancid administration has inflicted severe damage on Chicago State University and will continue to do so as long as it retains its control over the school. In a subsequent post, I will detail the lengths to which Watson will go to retain his "power."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mandela's legacy and racism at Chicago State--a communist view

I would like to offer few words about Mandela’s legacy and the lessons of that legacy for the struggle against racism at Chicago State.

My political development was partly honed in the anti-apartheid struggles of the 1970s. I recall organizing a rally at the University of Missouri—St. Louis comparing the anti-black violence occurring then in Boston (against racial integration of schools) with the violence in South Africa. Several times we showed the film Last Grave at Dimbaza, which made graphic the costs of the racist social and economic system, the high infant mortality, pervasive child hunger, slave-like conditions for miners in the great extractive industries of gold and diamonds, for black domestic servants, and for black workers in factories, the vicious apartheid laws—pass laws, homelands, identification checks—and white rule imposed to keep black workers down. In 1976 I was arrested along with three or four others as we tried to take an elevator to a Merrill-Lynch office to protest the sale of Krugerrand gold coins, used to fund the South African government. But the struggle against racism in South Africa was being led by South African children and youth, chanting “Liberation before Education,” leaving their classrooms to march in the streets against apartheid, refusing to be intimidated by police attacks. The townships, Soweto being the leading one, were centers of militancy, as police informants were “necklaced,” not a pleasant way to die.

In this context of mass struggle eventually Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years and led the African National Congress to power as the racist apartheid system, pass laws, and racial “homelands” were abolished. Now, with his death, he is being hailed around the world as a hero—by the capitalist press and other media. Why do the capitalists love Mandela so?

First, the transition from apartheid and white rule to a government elected with African suffrage was made peacefully. The struggle in the streets was replaced by political maneuvering and the ballot box.

Second, and most important, the control of the South African economy by corporations based in Britain, elsewhere in Europe, and the United States was maintained and expanded. Wealth from gold and diamonds still flowed into the capitalists’ coffers. Cars, steel, and other goods were manufactured profitably with black (and some white and “colored”) labor. The economy expanded under Mandela’s pro-business policies, and foreign investment increased.

Third, the social control of black labor was achieved more effectively and with less resistance when the visible political ruling class was composed of black Africans. A small African elite was allowed to prosper and share in the capitalists’ wealth. A somewhat larger African middle class was sustained. The vast majority of black workers toiled in extreme poverty. Along with Brazil South Africa today harbors the most extreme economic inequality.

Still, resistance continued. Workers are not easily denied. In 2012 miners at Marikana wildcatted. The response was violent suppression, leading to the deaths of at least 44 miners and shooting injuries to many others. Most were shot in the back. Many other South African miners went on strike.

So Mandela’s legacy is a racist South Africa where black miners and other workers still are violently suppressed to insure the capitalists’ profits. Still, the protests against these racist injustices are more muted than they were when the faces behind the guns killing black people were white. There is a lesson to be learned here, to fight racism regardless of the color of the face of the racist oppressor.

We experience racism at Chicago State as a thousand small slights, not mass shootings. Many things are inferior; these are racist conditions experienced by our students, mostly black: long lines for financial aid and at the bookstore, lost paperwork in the Cook building, chalkboards and whiteboards that have not been cleaned or maintained, broken concrete and stairs, bathrooms in need of repair. The need to focus on the racism of the oppression not the color of the oppressor applies to the struggle against the bookstore policy of excluding CSU students from the textbook aisles. The struggle against racism continues. Only ending capitalism and replacing it with a society run by and for the working class—communism—can end racism once and for all.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Response

So loyal readers, your humble narrator was forced by the circumstances of that most distasteful "cease and desist" letter to seek legal counsel to address the most unpleasant assault on our First Amendment rights. Joined by my fellow bloggers, The Crony State Eight, we sought the guidance of some very capable attorneys who advised us to continue blogging and let them handle the official response to the university. Below is the letter to the Vice President and General Counsel from our attorneys at Goodman, Tovrov, Hardy & Johnson, LLC. I believe their short missive speaks volumes about this situation. 

This I can assure you loyal readers, the threats of a failed administration hold no sway over my colleagues or me and should continued legal intimidation ensue, I would imagine more embarrassment for the regime.

Monday, December 2, 2013

This is What "Transparency" for Chicago State Students Looks Like Under This Execrable Regime

In the Orwellian world of Chicago State University, Wayne Watson's constant bloviating about "transparency" has become an almost comedic trope. As Paul points out in his previous post, the Watson administration, apparently so concerned about appropriate "process" as practiced by every other university constituency, consistently fails to apply those same stringent criteria to itself. This year's student elections are a prime case in point and offer a glimpse at two things that have been constants during this seemingly never-ending administration: 1) the ethically questionable, even corrupt practices of this administration are not limited to the university's faculty; 2) the administration does everything possible to prevent its activities being exposed to the light of day. This includes stonewalling legitimate FOIA requests, by either failing to respond or by offering ludicrous rationales for failing to respond (for examples see Public Access Counselor opinion 13-009, available here:, or the most extreme case, opinion 12-003, available here:

Following the administration's refusal to accept the results of the May 2013 SGA election, it resisted the effort by the aggrieved parties, Willie Preston and Brittany Bailey, to discover the actual results of the election. Following a legitimate FOIA request by Preston, the administration failed to respond and the matter ultimately had to be resolved by the Illinois Public Access Counselor. Preston made the original request for the election results under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act on May 7, 2013. Due to the administration's failure to respond, it was necessary for Preston to appeal to the Illinois Public Access Counselor who, on October 24, 2013, ordered Chicago State to release the results. Ultimately, Preston received the records on October 30, 2013. The following are excerpts from the Public Access Counselor's letter to Chicago State:

Based on the overwhelming victories achieved by both Preston and Bailey, both running (according to Preston) on a platform that included a proposed motion for the removal of Wayne Watson, it seems obvious why the administration tampered with the election results:

So this is what Watson's vaunted transparency means. If the administration does not get the result it wants from something as seemingly innocuous as a student election, it will simply set the result aside and hold elections until it achieves the desired result. Then, when called to account, it will make a ham-handed attempt to cover its tracks. Democracy and the wishes of the school's students be damned!

As a point of information, I am currently awaiting the results of an appeal to the Illinois Public Access Counselor for a FOIA request I made on November 7, 2013. This administration truly has no desire to see its operations exposed to public scrutiny. Also, all the material posted here is made public with the permission of Willie Preston.

SGA elections, real and bogus

In the spring of 2013 a Student Government Association (SGA) election was held to select an SGA President, Vice President, student representative to the Board of Trustees, Secretary, and Senators. This was the last SGA election held under the SGA constitution and by-laws. In that election Brittany Bailey was elected president by a margin of 292 votes to 80 for the other candidate. Willie Preston was elected student representative to the Board of Trustees with 236 votes; the other two candidates received 37 and 88 votes.

The administration voided the election. (Preston got the results under a Freedom of Information Act request.) Then Preston was suspended from the university for the fall semester. Subsequently he has been expelled from the university. I invite others who have more information about these disciplinary actions to post them on the blog.

This fall an “SGA election” was held. A “Board of Elections” was set up to administer the elections. (I use scare-quotes because the Board of Elections is a body under SGA by-laws, and this “Board of Elections” did not operate under these by-laws.) Brittany Bailey ran for student representative to the Board of Trustees. Eventually she was “disqualified” under the “election rules” of the “Board of Elections.” As far as I can tell her disqualification was illegal. Like Willie Preston, she is simply someone the administration did not want to hold the position of student rep to the BOT.

At the time of the fall “SGA election” the only operative constitution and by-laws were those for 2012-2013 since they had not been superseded by later documents. I have looked over the SGA constitution and by-laws and tried to study the Elections Policy, which is part of the SGA by-laws, more carefully. I have reached the following conclusions.

1.      The “Board of Elections” had no authority to make additional election rules besides those contained in the SGA by-laws Elections Policy.

2.      There is no prohibition of non-students campaigning for a candidate.

3.      There is no prohibition of campaigning in classrooms.

4.      There is no prescribed sanction for distribution of fliers which have not been stamped, only for POSTING unapproved fliers or posters.

5.      The BOE has no authority to issue sanctions for actions which are not violations of the Elections Policy.

As far as I can tell the “BOE” had no authority under the SGA Constitution and by-laws, specifically the Elections Policy, to strike Brittany Bailey’s name from the ballot for any of the alleged violations, none of which is a violation of SGA Elections Policy.

When the “Board of Elections” met with Students for Justice, I was told that the chair of that group, claimed that they were not operating under the SGA constitution. But if so, they had no authority to hold an SGA election, since that can only be legitimately held under the SGA constitution.

More recently, there was a disciplinary hearing for Brittany Bailey. I invite others to fill in more details here.

In summary: Brittany Bailey and Willie Preston were elected in the spring SGA election, which the administration voided. Preston was suspended and then expelled. Then a bogus “election” was held in the fall; Bailey was disqualified for actions which are not prohibited in SGA elections policy. Then a disciplinary hearing was convened for her.