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UW Struggle: (Govern)Mentally Challenged Edition

PicardNobody conscious in Wisconsin needs reminding of this, but government here is truly bad right now when judging by any host of metrics. But if we focused on talking points, word salad would actually be welcome as delicious. So, if you are someone looking in from the outside, this is the daily horseshit we have to step through. Over to you, Governor:

On The University of Wisconsin: “I think it’s unfortunate,” Walker said of UW System president Ray Cross saying he would resign if tenure and shared faculty governance are eliminated. “This is exactly why you need to have these reforms and why you shouldn’t be able to have the faculty have a gun to the head of chancellors and administrators.”

Let us pause for a moment and think about how truly backwards this is, and deliberately so.

  1. Scott Walker really does equate state employees, especially teachers, with terrorists. This is the second time he has explicitly described such employees as being life threatening. “It’s just an expression!” you say? No, it’s a pattern.
  2. Faculty are absolutely powerless. If faculty were “holding a gun” to anyone’s head, or had any power, they wouldn’t be speaking out so much. Why? There would be no need! The whole point of making your voice heard—whether faculty, staff, students, etc—is that we are powerless. Everyone conscious knows this.

  3. Update for the confused: Chancellors are administrators.

  4. The problem is the budget. Do I need to post my chart for the 5th time? Faculty did not make the budget. Faculty did not hand out tax breaks. Faculty did not deliberately short the state on revenue. Faculty did not cause, nor do they control, a single element of this budget-cut scenario.

  5. Tenure is completely unrelated to the budget shortfall.

  6. Shared governance is completely unrelated to the budget shortfall.

  7. Those who do the state’s budget are entirely responsible for the budget shortfall and how Wisconsin will deal with it. As a faculty member, I can stand on my head while making armpit farts and it will not matter one bit beyond amusement.

  8. Newsflash: Ray Cross was asked a question. He chose to answer “yes.” He could have answered “no.” He could change his mind right now with zero repercussions. Faculty have no influence on any of that. The man could literally change his answer on resigning to “I know you are but what am I” and absolutely nothing would change. Zero. It’s completely irrelevant.

  9. Most importantly: only the privileged get to announce that they will willingly resign from a high-paid job. You know who doesn’t have this privilege? Pretty much everyone else in the UW System. I am tenured. If the state wanted, they could fire me under any number of bullshitisms right now, just ask the people in Michigan who don’t have pensions anymore.

Ray Cross saying he would resign is not a sign of pressure. It is a sign of privilege.

(Kudos to Ray Cross for knowing and agreeing with this, and actually emailing the faculty member to say he perfectly understood the context for the questions he’s been asked.)

So please, can people get back to doing their jobs? Especially the loudspeakers for “personal responsibility.” Yes, someone will say bad things (Try being a teacher!). Someone might hurt your fee fees (Ask a teacher about this some time!). That doesn’t change the basic, overlooked reality—you have a job to govern with the state’s best interests in mind, not whether or not some blogger (ahem) hurt your feelings.

My god, Wisconsin. Grow up.

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7 Comments

  1. Mike D. April 4, 2015

    Thanks, Chuck. I agree, faculty are speaking up as best we can, but we are also trying to keep our institutions afloat, and doing so in the midst of busy semesters. I guess Walker should be able to relate, he is simultaneously destroying unions, destroying public education, and endangering WI’s environment, all while meeting with rich people out of state to further his Presidential campaign of Hate. He’s put a lot on his plate, too.

    • Chuck Rybak April 4, 2015 — Post Author

      Mike, I wish I could document (via film) the conversations I have had with people about trying to work through all of this while feeling so devalued. It feels Herculean to try to lift up students while such forces are simultaneously pushing us down.

  2. Barry Liss April 4, 2015

    Thanks Chuck

  3. Barry Liss April 4, 2015

    Thanks Chuck.

  4. Jim Perry April 4, 2015

    How loudly are faculty speaking out? UWM seems to be doing so. Maybe UW-Madsion too. But the other 24 campuses????? How many others are trying to do something? And if the faculty really feel that powerless and don’t attempt something — anything — they know the fate, and are accepting it. (?) It would be nice to believe that many many faculty are contacting their legislators demanding that they not go along with this attack.

    • Chuck Rybak April 4, 2015 — Post Author

      Hey Jim– faculty are speaking out everywhere (in my view), and that’s part of what I’m getting at here–when faculty are quiet we abdicate our duty; when faculty speak then we are blamed for everything, including Ebola. In many ways it is a lose-lose. There is such a stigma, and misunderstanding, of who faculty are (they’re motives are conflated with central, or “the UW”), that it is literally a reflex now to elevate faculty to the cause of everything. Faculty derangement syndrome, or something.

      • Jim Perry April 4, 2015

        I believe people who are not faculty are jealous of the so-called benefits that faculty have. And the less education one has, the more this is so. Jealosy breeds this. “If I don’t have it neither should you.” And most people don’t know how hard faculty work (the hours they put in, the amount of time that is invested off campus, at home, etc.,) and how low the compensation is relative to the amount of time put into being educated.

        I hope the two forums on April 15 and 16 are helpful. If you can help get the word out (so people can watch the live stream) it would be appreciated. I can send you something to use in your next post if you would like.

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