UW Struggle: Sparkle Pony Fainting-Couch Edition

I'm a sparkle pony, and you hurt my feelings!
I’m a sparkle pony, and you hurt my feelings!

Before I get to the brush fire of hurt feelings, I’d like to point you to Nick Fleisher’s crib. The hospitality is nice, the furniture is comfy, and the latest post is as rock-solid of an update as you’re going to get after the town hall at UW-Milwaukee that has all of the serious folks fainting on their couches. There have been many “my word!” and “oh lordy!” ejaculations since Wednesday.

Exhibit A:

Well fat frog’s ass! We can’t have regular folks asking questions of their leadership in a spirited but entirely civil way! I mean, there may be a lot at stake, but I reckon y’all could use some manners! Well I never! Faints on couch

Those professorial brutes!
Those professorial brutes!

And then there’s Regent Falbo, fetishizing authority before fainting on a UWM couch provided by millions of taxpayer dollars:

Cross quietly accomplishes a lot that faculty and others aren’t aware of, Falbo said. “Why should anybody, without knowing everything he does, be able to ask for his resignation when he is doing everything he can to go out of his way for them?”

My word! A superior has been asked a question!
My word! A superior has been asked a question!

Academic freedom may allow a faculty member to ask for a superior’s resignation, an angry Falbo said, “but that freedom should be honored, not abused.”

Oh my, what is this bad behavior? I mean, it’s not like people abuse faculty and question their ability to do their jobs, let alone a “superior’! This is beyond the pale! Also, someone fetch me a definition of academic freedom! faints on couch clutching pearls

This is now conventional in academic dickcourse discourse—this hyper-policing of tone—as evidenced by the response to a spot-on editorial and review written by Audrey Watters and Sara Goldrick-Rab about Kevin Carey’s new ed-tech advertisement. These women had such strong opinions that Joshua Kim fainted six times in less than 200 words:

What I worry about is that the review by Watters and Goldrick-Rab crossed the divide that separates criticism from attack.

Your delicacy, did those ladies upset you?
Your delicacy, did those ladies upset you?

Oh lord is me! I’m worried! These two ladies are pointing out that someone with zero experience with teaching and learning is offering a lot of unfounded opinions about teaching and learning. Oh lordy, someone do something! faints on IHE web server

To review: whether or not you agree with Richard Grusin’s position, or anyone else’s for that matter, the questions asked of President Cross were entirely appropriate and a perfect example of what we should be encouraging and cultivating in the university as an institution. Do we fetishize authority so much that we are offended by the slightest questioning? Do I need to quote Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” in this space? And for the record, Grusin’s request was not an example of academic freedom; it was an example of basic human freedom. You know, asking a question. Yet, the response has been the predictable, Oh, the faculty! See how in need of control they are? Don’t they work enough? Aren’t they lazy? Who do those people think they are?

And when you think that this bold, questioning spirit represents the type of people public universities should be producing, the motivations for defunding and bringing such people to heel are obvious.

I have lived and worked in Wisconsin for over twelve years. Not one week has passed where a public figure, a special interest group, a roadside billboard, or any host of citizens have not demeaned my worth and results as a professional. As a teacher and public employee, I’ve come to accept that every day is one where I am devalued and my performance questioned. I’m pretty sure Ray Cross can handle a minuscule dose of what his employees experience incessantly. He’d also be the first to agree with me on this.

Update: President Cross does indeed agree and sees it as no big deal and an example of what’s great about us (seriously, this is obvious). So three cheers to Ray Cross. And to everyone else, nothing to see here.