6 thoughts on “Tabula Rasa Sunday

  1. As August gets closer, I have become less and less excited by the advent of a new semester. Typically, at this point in the summer, I have started to think about how to revamp my courses, what activities to include, exclude and how to utilize class time better. I start writing the syllabus at the end of July and happily go through the academic calendar for us and CPS so I can include both days off in my daily schedule (it helps students arrange for child care). And by the time August rolls around, I am excited to see my colleagues and meet my new (and some old) students.

    I don’t have that feeling this summer. I feel dread. I can’t help but wonder how administration will insult and revile me this year. I understand that this year we will be expected to justify our existence. So, art, music, theater, what is the benefit of offering these courses, majors to our students? Do our students really need to “know” about Freud or Descartes or Locke or Aristotle? Why should we spend the money on ceramics and the equipment that is necessary? Why are we teaching geology or biology? Do our students make money from these disciplines? No matter what our justification is you get the sense that district really wants us to teach PROGRAMS. Let’s not expect our students to succeed as artist, musicians, actors, scientist or doctors…let’s set them up to be technicians. They can ASSIST artists, musicians, actors, scientist, doctors or a hundred other professional careers but without a true liberal arts foundation, they can’t actually BE any of those things. It is clear that this administration wants our students to be the assistants and will further relegate our students to a lower socioeconomic class existence by “justifying” a true liberal art foundation right out of the City College of Chicago. And all of this while pushing graduation rates. Well, here is a question of economic value for administration: what is the benefit of any of our students getting associates degree from CCC? If you believe the reports and statistics mouthed by our Chancellor, a degree from CCC doesn’t mean much.

    So, how will administration insult us in the upcoming semester is one part of my dread. Another part of my dread relates to how administration has already insulted us. If you get off the elevator on the eleventh floor, you’ll see a new group of pictures hanging on the wall. And the pictures are of students putting on the new orange-grey t-shirts to reflect HWC’s new colors. The faculty’s response to the new color scheme has not been a secret. Most of those who are asked, hate the colors, wish for the old colors back and NEVER anticipate wearing an Orange-Grey HWC shirt. So, what does administration do? They hang up pictures at the entrance to their enclave celebrating this slap in the face. Well done! The US/THEM mentality so well fostered by our Chancellor is alive and well on our own 11th floor. And every time I read about the president wearing an orange tie or I actually see him wearing it, I realize that he just doesn’t get it or he just doesn’t care. Who knew tie wear could so effectively communicate disdain?

    Finally, the hiring process. Don has mentioned, several times, that we are going to hire 20 people. Does anyone believe this? We’ll see but many of us are going through the hiring process with hope in our hearts. But guess what, our candidates don’t just have to get past us. Once they get recommended by the department, interviewed by the VP, then check in with the Pres, they get to go to District. Now, apparently this is an old rule that is being reinstated by the top-heavy down leadership from our Chancellor (if she actually knows about it). Here is my question, given how incredibly incompetent district has always shown itself to be is there any chance they will be able to interview all the candidates and make a decision in time for a fall hire. Answer: NO, there isn’t. Perhaps we can get some spring hires. Of course, this is even assuming that any hiring happens at all. This is about the 4th time we’ve gone through a hiring process and previously we weren’t allowed to hire anybody. I know District believes that Prof-in-a-Box is coming soon to a Wal-Mart near you, but until it does, we do need to hire actual people.

    So as August nears, I feel dread. One thing I will do to make myself feel a bit better is wear black and gold to the Chancellor’s convocation on how to alienate, during registration and on the first day of school. If we have new faculty, I will council them to NOT wear orange and gray. Such a small thing but as the color change is emblematic of the disregard administration has for the actual people at the college, so will my wearing of black/gold be a sign of my support for faculty, staff and students and of a happier, less dreadful time.

    • I almost never write on here, but I did want to chime in and say that I agree with everything you said here. I have been feeling dread as well. I was sitting in our interviews of new candidates last week and one of them asked us what we thought of working at HWC. For the first time, I realized that I’m genuinely not happy working here. Remembering back to my interview six years ago and how thrilled I was to have landed this amazing job, I was so saddened to realize how much my sense of this place has changed.

      I particularly want to emphasize your point that “the color change is emblematic of the disregard administration has for the actual people at the college.” I know that some have seen it as a red herring and argued that it doesn’t really matter, but in that I see *no* purpose for it other than to display power and destroy morale, I think it is extremely symbolic. Though I worry about many of the other changes district has made, I can see them as being (possibly misguided) genuine attempts to serve our students, but not the color change. I can see absolutely no purpose for it *other* than to display centralized power. (PLEASE, if someone from district is reading this, EXPLAIN to me what you saw as the purpose!!) I’m surprised that there has not been more of a collective response from faculty and students. If district wanted to make orange and grey our *graduation* colors, fine, but I am disappointed we as a HWC community have not had more of a collective response to administration really explaining why we think it is important to go back to our original colors. If Don approved this without consulting faculty or students, I think that was a huge error on his part and it would display incredible respect for the HWC community and amazing leadership if he would fight with us to get the colors changed back.

      Do we have an alumni association? I’d be interested to hear what alum think of this change. If this were a private college, a change like this could never go through because alum would be outraged.

      • @Dread Friend’s of Harold Washington College…they are like the superhero retirees of Loop/Harold Washington College. Great read, as well, @43 days.

  2. Fellow peeps,
    I understand your concerns. I truly know what you are going through. I’ve had similar feelings. However, before you feel as if your hands are tied, or that there isn’t much we can do, or how there’s a dark cloud over our heads I have to say that I do see (and use) the one bright spot realted to our institution: The Harold Lounge.
    We need to keep the discussion going. As Dave has mentioned many times, this is NOT a CCC site and it is not on CCC servers. This is an independent blog and it is here to serve you.
    Keep the replys coming and vent all you want. Give suggestions and provide solutions and let’s see what we can do for our community college.

    • Realist; long time no screen, or see, or something.

      I’m not sure what everyone is supposed to be thinking or feeling…hell they wouldn’t tell me anyway. I do know that there is a vast majority of the student body oblivious to what your institution or mine or any other is doing for them.

      So, there are and have to be ways that we reach out to students
      …social media anyone?

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