FW: The Frog in the Frying Pan

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Wed Mar 5 16:20:53 MST 2003


Kate wrote:

Many thanks for the forwarded article, Steve. If you do receive more
articles like this and don't want to send them out (for very understandable
reasons), forward them to me and I'll do it. Many full-time, tenured faculty
(seemingly shielded from the unpleasant repercussions of their supposedly
free speech) are wary of discussing important issues here; for temporary and
adjunct faculty, this Faculty Forum is a dangerous place.



and Steve noted:

But the fact is that I'm not naive. Being political in this kind of
institutional setting _is_ dangerous, particularly in these kinds of times
when people's stress levels are ratcheted way up and anxiety over job
security is palpable in some areas of the school. All this is to say that I
don't want to be the one to send this kind of stuff out. I don't want to
draw attention to myself. I've put in my time for the cause, and I've taken
my hits. If you think that being overtly political as an adjunct (or
tenure-line, for that matter) is anything but threatening to one's career,
think again . . . no matter how seemingly harmless that political activity
is. I'm tired, and I'm afraid for the future of my career. Is that
uncomfortable to read? Well, the degree to which that makes you feel
uncomfortable has a lot to say about how well you understand what I've said.
If you get it, you get it. With all due respect, this is the last I'll
forward along until i have the protection of tenure law afforded a minority
of us.


Comment (Jim Craven):
Not to extend this thread too much, and by the way, reproducing the
statements by Kate and Steve are not to be taken as a criticism of them as
they are pointing out some realities, but it should be noted that such
"freedoms" as freedom of speech mean little to the compliant, cowardly,
sycophantic and/or those who do not know enough about anything to have
anything potentially controversial to say. Below is an example of a missive
I first sent many years ago when I was untenured and in a war with an
administration that literally was pushed out and/or fled prior to an
accreditation visit that got some longstanding corruption and incompetence
exposed.



The Frog in the Pan

Put a frog in a pan fully of boiling water (a cruel thing to do) and that
frog will immediately jump all over and try to get out of the pan. Put a
frog in a pan full of cold water and incrementally heat it up until the
water is boiling and the frog will sit quietly until it dies. Most often,
civil liberties and basic human rights are eroded incrementally without the
incremental losses of such rights being noticed or protested. When the nazis
came to power in Germany, it was through a process of progressive erosion of
basic civil rights rather than one dramatic coup or event; they never
formally abolished the Weimar Constitution, formally one of the most
democratic constitutions ever writen, nor did they need to to do what they
did.

At Clark College, if a student feels he/she has a grievance against faculty
there is a grievance process leading up to the Dean of Faculty and/or the
Dean of Students--and ultimately to the President. If Faculty has a
grievance against a student, again there is a grievance process. If faculty
or classified staff feel they have a grievance against the Administration,
where do they go?  Initially they will have to have the appeal heard against
the very Administrator against whom the appeal has been filed. If
unsuccessful at Stage I, they will have to file at Stage II and the appeal
will be heard by the President who probably directed and/or sanctioned the
action being appealed. If unsuccessful at Stage II, then the faculty/staff
will have to go to their respective unions to argue for arbitration; yet the
action against which a grievance has been filed may be framed in such a way
as to make it non-arbitrable from the point of view of a very limited
contract.

If the action is found to be arbitrable, the faculty/staff may have to incur
some of the costs of arbitration while the Administration has their legal
costs covered by the AG's Office (long known and well- documented to be an
in-house perk or free legal assistance for administrators regardless of
which side of a dispute actually serves the interests of The People of the
State of Washington and the particular institution) and a Tort Fund to
defray costs/settlements of litigation. Then one might want to contact the
Clark Board of Trustees; yet the formal channels of communication go through
the Administration against which one has filed grievance. Or, one could go
directly to a Clark Board Meeting and yet one will be told that they are
only a "policymaking body" and do not deal with particular disputes.
Further, the Administration has the forum of "executive session" through
which members of the Board can be lobbied and/or positions misrepresentated
against which the faculty/staff member has no right of rebuttal. One could
go to the AA/EEO Officer or Director of Personnel but there one would be
going to someone who is part of that Administration and who was summarily
appointed by the Administration without free and open competition for the
position.

Well one could go to "The Independent" which is "dependent" upon the
Administration for funds and other means of existence and whose advisor is
dependent upon the Administration for tenure and/or faculty assignments. One
might go to "The Columbian" but as a commercial enterprise, "The Columbian"
is dependent upon the Administration for ongoing access to scoops and
stories and/or material for stories.

Finally one could go to the internet. But now there are attempts being made
to close off this avenue of discourse and expression of opinion. With the
suggestion being made that e-mail and internet cannot be used for the
expressions of opinions--clearly in violation of the First Amendment of the
U.S. Constitution especially when the matters being discussed have to do
with the structures, operations, interests and policies of Clark College and
therefore with the interests of everyone working here.

Checks and balances are as American as apple pie. Of course those who seek
absolute power and immunity from scrutiny and accountability for the
exercise of their powers are usually the types who find checks and balances
inconvenient--even threatening to their powers-- and will seek any and all
means to expand their absolute powers and minimize the scrutiny and
accountability to which they are subject. It is up to everyone to see where
such processes lead and to rise up to protect the institution, its
fundamental interests and the rights and interest of all who work there.

Fundamental human and civil rights are not a matter of the structure and
language of a given contract; they are a matter of the structure and
language of the U.S. Constitution and the extent to which people will defend
those rights at all costs. Especially at agencies of the Government of the
State of Washington or any Public agency, there is where one should find the
most not least developed checks and balances and protections of basic civil
and human rights.

                                Jim Craven

*------------------------------------------------------------------*
*  James Craven             * " For those who have fought for it,  *
*  Dept of Economics        *  freedom has a taste the protected   *
*  Clark College            *  will never know."                   *
*  1800 E. McLoughlin Blvd. *            Otto von Bismark          *
*  Vancouver, Wa. 98663     *                                      *
*  (360) 992-2283           *                                      *
*  jcraven at clark.edu        *                                      *
* MY EMPLOYER HAS NO ASSOCIATION WITH MY PRIVATE/PROTECTED OPINION *


For anyone who finds or sees illegal or unethical activities or policies
going on at Clark College, the number to call (you may call anonymously)
Mrs. Linda Long, Washington State Deputy Auditor at (360) 902-0367.
Note: to be aware of a possible felony having been committed and not report
it, is "Misprison of a Felony", itself a crime.

Further, as an Agency of the Government of the State of Washington, we are
governed by Federal as well as State laws and policies. Employment positions
at Clark College are not the property of insiders to be filled in ways that
make themselves feel comfortable being surrounded by their own mediocre
kind; they belong to the People of the State of Washington. Anyone who
witnesses insider fixing of jobs or is asked to participate in such is
witnessing/being asked to participate in violating the basic human and civil
rights of all the applicants who each individually have an absolute right to
free, fair and open competition for open positions and to be treated and
assessed fairly but with no special preference for or against. This is a
matter of Federal and State Laws. Contrived selection criteria, contrived
selection committees and/or contrived/discriminatory scoring to shape
selection of a favored insider may constitute Conspiracy to violate Federal
and State Laws governing discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Anyone who witnesses or is asked to participate in such has a moral and
legal obligation to document it and report it--as you would want others to
do if you were similarly victimized.

As my father used to say: "First-rate people hire first-rate people as part
of being first-rate is to be able to recognize, value and embrace competence
rather than fear it or attempt to suppress it; second-rate people hire
third-rate and fourth-rate people so they will look good, and the third-rate
and fourth-rate go on to hire fifth-rate and sixth-rate people so they will
look good--and mediocrity metastasizes like a cancer."



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