The Anonymous Letters

I only learned of them yesterday, but they sound quite forceful. One is up on the Truman Lounge. Apparently they were sent (one on Thursday, I believe, and one on Friday) to some faculty, not others (one person said they were sent to all faculty, but then pulled out of the system and so were only seen by those who opened them in between the time they were sent and the time they were pulled. I don’t know about any of that; I only know that I didn’t see them until yesterday).

I must admit that I am not a big fan–ok, I’m downright derisive–of anonymous letters that purport to speak for groups, especially groups as vague as “the taxpayers of Chicago” (I would not entertain a list of demands in a letter that came from “the students of Harold Washington College”). Maybe that’s just me. I happen to think that, until they take away our tenure, one benefit is that we can speak truth to power, and say what we think with relative impunity. That’s a good, and rare, authority, worth exactly as much as we exercise it.

It is of course, possible that the letters have not originated with tenured faculty but rather students, or staff, or a rogue administrator, or a taxpayer or two.

That’s me, though. What are your thoughts and feelings about any of it?

16 thoughts on “The Anonymous Letters

  1. I thought it was great. It occurs to me that perhaps the board and the mayor have no idea how inept Hyman is at her job. I’m glad someone thought to inform them. I would have liked a more representative letter with a better grasp of comma use, but all in all……LOVED IT!

    BTW- Dope slap for PhiloDave. While certainly not purporting to represent us all, you certainly encourage anonymity on this site. Are you saying Realist is not a tenured faculty? Perhaps a clue!

    • Ha. I’m sure I deserve a dope slap, though I’m not sure I deserve one for this charge. I don’t think of myself as encouraging anonymity on the site, though you’re right that I don’t discourage it either, at least not here. And I don’t mind it here, either, most of the time. I think it adds some nice intrigue and nuance to the conversations by eliminating some of the expectations that readers might have of particular people, putting more emphasis on what is said rather than who says it. Still, I don’t think enabling and informing others of the possibility is the same thing as encouraging. If modeling is the key indicator, then I’d say, if anything, I ENcourage owning one’s opinions (I suppose you’ll just have to trust me on that one though, as it would be hard to prove that I don’t post under a pseudonym). It’s an interesting aside, though. I definitely want to think about it some more.

      Anyway, I can’t tell you the Realist’s reasons for wanting to be anonymous; I haven’t asked. I will only say that if Realist were writing a letter to the Chair to complain about something, I’d encourage the Realist to sign it with the Realist’s real name. Anything else undermines the purpose and effectiveness of the project, I think.

      And, for the record, I am neither confirming nor denying any speculations about the Realist by not responding to the speculations about the Realist. So perhaps it is a clue. Perhaps not. I will only say what I have told everyone who has asked about the identity of the Realist–it isn’t me.

      • Tenured will not save you if you incur the wrath of da boss.
        They can make life very miserable for the poor sap, tenured or not.
        I know…

        • There are far worse things than incurring the wrath of a boss; I’d rather be a poor miserable sap with my integrity than comfortable without it.

          • I, of course, agree with all you state; but I was only trying to make the point that tenure is not a medieval warrior’s protective armour standing in the way of your weak flesh and wooden arrows. No, not when they come at you with GPS smart C-band and X-band interferometric synthetic aperture radar based guided missiles. Do you see my point?

      • Hmmm….
        I have to think about this one. If time permits in the very near future, I will address this matter. For now, only I can and will claim to be the author going by the name of the Realist.
        Again, once the dust settles on some more important and pressing matters, (this one isn’t) I’ll have answers for y’all.
        Fact: I am a faculty member at HWC.
        Fact: I have definitely learned to use “we” when referring to myself and the mouse in my pocket (see previous replies when PhiloDave questioned the use of that pronoun).
        Fact: I do not have the time, energy, nor the brains to do that kind of reporting.
        Fact: I am humbled by all that I’ve learned this past year on The Lounge
        Most important fact: I have nothing but respect for all of my fellow faculty members.

        Great observations LOVE IT!

        • And for the record, I did not mean to insinuate that the Realist wrote the letter. I am as close to positive as I can get that s/he did not. I just meant to say that I’d recommend a signature to anyone.

  2. Wait, we are speculating on who each other are? I thought being heirapparent is pretty straightforward, clever actually. Although, it would depend what I am an heir to. A school district rife with conjecture and speculation. A student body unsure and uncertain of where their place is in CCC. We are besieged not by a tyrant, it would seem, but by the voices that have maybe been too long unheard.

    WHO are they?

    • I asked myself the same question when the email arrived in my mailbox.
      More power to them, or her, or him.
      Per the earlier replies, yes, I would put my Lounge name on the piece of paper IF it were me. A name provides validity to a document, whether it’s a psudo-name or formal name.

  3. We(me,my alter ego and the mouse in my pocket)would like to know if the Vice Chancellor for security(De Lopez) at district is a resident of Chicago like the rest of us.He was the Winnetka police chief.

    • That is an excellent question – do we have any private investigators we can hire? 🙂

  4. I was bothered by the poor grammar in the first missive: “As chairman of the CCC …, we the concerned citizens of the ….” and “Now more than ever is there less transparency ….” I think these errors are serious enough to weaken the important points the letter made. The anonymity makes it impossible for me to quietly approach the author with an offer to proofread and make suggestions for future letters, so I’m doing so on this site publicly. I will of course respect the anonymity of the author.

    Imagine if the letter had been published in the Tribune with these errors. Whatever the important points, the public could focus on the poor grammar. “No wonder CCC students can’t write! The CCC faculty can’t write either!” So I really hope this letter was not written by faculty, but I fear that it was.

  5. Has there been any word on the reaction(s) to the letter (from any of the places/people it was sent to)?

  6. Wait, you guys still don’t know who wrote the letters ?? Seriously ?

    I can only tell you that the letters were not written by faculty ( so don’t you worry , Charlie ! )

  7. And um , I know I’ve been repeating the same thing over and over again …

    But I totally agree with Philodave that the term “WE” is not accountable and can not represent others in school .

    Who the hell he think he is , anyway ?!

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