Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Guess This is What University Presidents Do With Their Time: The Administration Wants to Invalidate the Election So Sir Wayne Can Vanquish the Senate

"it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it." Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of The Universe, quoted here: http://www.angelfire.com/ca3/tomsnyder/hg-2-28.html

I wonder if there is anyone left out there who does not realize what is now afoot here at Chicago State. Since 2009, Watson has attacked what faculty influence existed upon his arrival. A review of some of his efforts: the seemingly arbitrary reorganizations of the Colleges of Education and Arts and Sciences; the DAC fiasco of summer 2012; the improper crony hiring of Criminal Justice faculty in 2012; the several attempts to stifle faculty dissent, including the computer usage policy, communications policy and the recent attacks on the Faculty Voice; interference in faculty hiring; the on-going conflict with the Faculty Senate over its “representation” that masks a simple desire to eliminate that troublesome body; and the recent contract with a “Workplace Intelligence Firm” to do some kind of an investigation on “certain conduct relative to University procedures.” The most recent Watson memorandum about the Faculty Senate is simply another tactic in the Watson effort to consign to irrelevance the faculty of Chicago State.

One of the key components in the Watson attack on faculty has been its mendacity. His recent memorandum purports to be concerned with alleged problems in the balloting for the Faculty Senate amendments. Watson’s e-mail of March 3, 2014, claims that “The University has since received various complaints from eligible faculty indicating that they neither received notice of the election nor cast their ballots.” I wonder who he could be talking about since no one from the Unit A faculty has complained to anyone in the Senate about the allegations made by Watson. Certainly, if the administration communicates (or if the individuals themselves contact me or some other representative of the Senate) the names of those persons who claim to have been denied a ballot, I would be happy to determine their eligibility to vote and whether or not their names appeared on the e-mail list I used to disseminate election material to Unit A faculty.

Otherwise, allegations on behalf of anonymous persons carry little weight, except with an administration determined to dismantle what remains of legitimate faculty governance on this campus. Imagine what a legislative body created and assembled under the watchful and approving eye of Wayne Watson would act like.

Between February 10 and 18, I sent out no fewer than three e-mails regarding the Senate election. I’ve attached PDF copies of those e-mails. A post on the CSU Faculty Voice on February 18 reminded all unit A faculty that the election’s conclusion was that day and that if they wished to vote they should do so. I am in possession of all ballots cast as well as a master list of all faculty who cast ballots. I verified that all persons voting in the election were eligible to do so.

The vote approving the Senate amendments was about as close to unanimous as possible. Altogether, 98 unit A faculty cast ballots. The smallest margin of passage was 94-3. Some faculty did not vote for all the amendments on their ballots, but overall, of 878 votes cast for individual amendments, 869, or 99 percent favored the amendments. Faculty cast only 9 total votes against the 9 amendments.

The trajectory of this contretemps is instructive. The Faculty Senate operated under the representation that Watson finds so objectionable for two full years before the administration decided that the current configuration possibly made the senate’s actions “invalid.” Watson sent out an ultimatum to follow the procedures in the 2011 constitution on January 28, 2014, with a deadline of February 26, 2014 to hold an election as required by the document. Almost immediately after being notified of the unpalatable (to him) results of the election, Watson sent the request for documentation to which the Senate President responded. Since he obviously did not like the Senate President’s response, Watson and his crack legal advisor filed a FOIA request for the material they claim to need in order “to verify that a proper election was held and that the appropriate notices were sent.”

That’s all nice rhetoric but it ignores some simple realities. First, there are no concrete rules for elections in the Senate Constitution. The only criterion is that the faculty election be by “ballot.” Second, eligibility to cast votes in Senate elections is restricted to faculty who are tenured and tenure-track (unit A), according to articles III and IX of the constitution. The recent election complied with both those requirements. Unfortunately, this vote did not result in the outcome Watson and his minions desired.

We have already seen the administration toss out a student government election, now they are trying the same tactic with the Senate. However, they do not get to determine who is eligible to vote. Neither do they get to weigh in on the “propriety” of the election procedures. Both those subjects are the purview of the Faculty Senate, per the constitution to which the administration eagerly wishes us to adhere. Copies of e-mails attached:

As you can see, election announcements went out via e-mail on February 10, 14 and 17. On February 18, I posted a final reminder on the blog.

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