Faculty Council Corner

Faculty Council Corner is a regular Thursday morning-ish feature (that sometimes shows up later) , presenting an open thread for you to bother your HWFC members with pressing questions (or for us to post the pressing questions that you have). Also, you can expect this to be the forum where we post regular updates about what is happening with Faculty Council and when.

Last “Week’s” Pressing Questions:

The Realist asked: Um, what came of the meeting and/or the unofficial holiday faculty gathering? Just wonderin’…

Taking the second part first, there was fun and frivolity (and beer and tequila) and no major injuries (to my knowledge) except to Jenny Armendarez’s bank account because she got stiffed with the bill (so if you were there, slip her a finsky this week to make her whole, or give it to me and I’ll give it to her. Honest.

As for the first part, you might be wondering, “What meeting?” This one, of course, with the Prez and the VC of Security and the Chairs and the HWFC and so on. It happened on December 8th. Backtracking a little to the results of the security survey, after a brief discussion, HWFC agreed that it probably made the most sense to send the full results to interested parties rather than post them for general consumption, so if you are a faculty member watch next week for an email with the results attached or, if you want it sooner, send one of your FC reps an email and we will send you what you seek.

The short summary of key findings from HWFC Secretary, Anthony Escuadro, looks like this:

1. 90% of the respondents feel HWC is a safe environment, but roughly 3/4ths of those who held this view think it can be improved;

2. Roughly 75% of the respondents did not experience any immediate or potential threat to their safety this semester; that number dropped to 65% when asked to consider other situations that made them feel uncomfortable about their safety;

3. A clear majority of the faculty that responded do not know how to access emergency plans and crime information;

4. Half of the respondents heard about or experienced a situation in which security was summoned to a classroom to address disruptive behavior; 86% of these respondents believed the security staff quickly and effectively removed the disruptor from the classroom.

Many faculty made suggestions, which Jenny A. ambitiously compiled into both a pie chart and a wordle for analysis (and a table with the full responses for ease of analysis). Her analysis of the suggestions yielded the following: 26 wanted more visible security; 23 wanted more information, drills, training; 15 people made no suggestion or said that security is doing a good job; 11 wanted limited access to the building; 3 wanted security phones in each classroom; and 9 were coded as Miscellaneous (e.g. there should be cameras and call boxes in the stairwells as well as call boxes in the bathrooms).

One thing we did not get from the survey was a clear and compelling argument against taking action to tighten up building access; we didn’t exactly discover a consensus, either, but Don was clear in his first meeting with us that his bias was toward action and he had explained why.

I got to the meeting about 15 minutes after it started owing to a simultaneous DEC meeting, and when I got there the Council (mostly Domenico) was presenting the survey findings, to Don, VC de Lopez, Chiaka Patterson (DO), the rest of HWFC and a couple of Department Chairs (Sherry and Sammy were there, and Domenico obviously, but I think that was it). Metoyer may have been there, too, but in silent mode if he was.

The meeting went for about an hour, and our discussions afterward (in the hallway, at the bar, by email over the next few days) were mixed. We were probably a little underprepared in that we had no plan for presenting our survey information and agreed, later, that we should have (we plead: “Finals Week”). There was confusion/frustration expressed by various people for various reasons, but primarily owing to one moment about halfway into the meeting, when the Vice Chancellor said that the “gates” (he kept resisting that word and using another, but I don’t remember what it was) were “a done deal” after telling us/letting it slip that they’d already made plans for us to get “Easy Lobby” (which is some sort of temporary ID software thingy, I think). Clearly, from the comment and his approach to the meeting that is what they were to him–speaking for myself, it seemed to me that he believed he was there to sell us on the decision he’d already made (which he didn’t do very well, at that).

There was disagreement among us about whether the same was true for Don (and whether if it weren’t he’d be overruled), but those ended up being counterfactual speculations since we had no case against their installation other than that they didn’t seem to address the primary concerns and issues that arose in the survey (and so other interventions were much more urgent (and much more cost effective)). Educating faculty and students about basic security plans, equipment, phone numbers, etc., seemed to us to be the first priority, and the situations identified by surveyed faculty were much more likely to involve students than non-students. Further, there was some concern that the “gates” might give people a false sense of security.

We discussed our general sense that faculty (at least) are generally uninterested in the topic owing to the dearth of feedback on the proposal and lack of push back to Chairs, us, or anyone. One suggestion was that perhaps the apathy was borne of a sense of futility (see: “done deal” above). One rep described the meeting thusly: “it was in the interest of making a top-down security mandate appear to be carried out with our input and consent.” The apathy on the topic seemed to surprise a lot of us and struck all of us, I think, as important to understand.

In later discussions, another rep expressed hope that automating the lobby access will “free up security resources to be distributed on the upper floors/library, where there seems to be a greater demand,” and we all hoped that the lobby system wouldn’t be what one HWFC rep called “a form of security theater.”

Both in the meeting and after, we discussed the possibility of another survey–this one “shorter, and more focused on the changes in lobby access” but the idea got no love from the admins and a mixed reception from the Council.

It’s clear from what we saw in the survey that faculty have security and safety concerns that will not be addressed by the gates, and the most frustrating part of the meeting, for me, was that our guests kept trying to suggest, ridiculously, that the one thing (the “gates”) would help with the other (the faculty’s actual security concerns) and/or that non-relevant comparisons or analogies were good grounds for the actions they were interested in taking. But that’s really neither here nor there. The key thing is that, come August, you’ll need your ID to get in the building and so will students. There will surely be more opportunities to give input on relevant aspects of the policy, the design and more down the road, and we all hope that if you are interested and/or offered the opportunity to provide feedback, that you will. It’s important.

If I have missed anything or unfairly emphasized/failed to note any ideas of importance, I trust that my colleagues will provide addenda in the comments, or send me email corrections for amending the above.

At least we can take some solace in the fact that it could be worse. Their solution for Truman is to build a big fence.

This Week’s Updates:

~Officer Elections: Officer elections were held at our meeting in November, and the officers (Rosie, Me, and Anthony) were all re-elected (President, VP, and Secretary, respectively). Huzzah, to all.

~Our first meeting of the spring term is scheduled for Tuesday, February 14th from 4-5pm in Rm. 1046. All are welcome and invited. Watch your email over the weekend prior for the agenda.

~Over the next few weeks, the HWFC will be compiling our priority list for spring. If you have any ideas, please send them along. For the moment, some key areas include FC4 representation, continued Reinvention updates, and rank promotion. I’m sure there will be more (copiers/printers come to mind as a likely candidate, not to mention purchasing, advising, registration, and the other “key processes” that all need/needed some attention as of the last State of the College address. Post your ideas in the comments.

See you in the hallways, and have a great semester!

4 thoughts on “Faculty Council Corner

  1. Thanks, as always, for the update PhiloDave. I hope other faculty members ask questions in the future.

    My one observation is this:
    We, the faculty of HWC do not like the “done deal” culture that drives District; in general, not always. I couldn’t agree more. However, I do believe it is in our best interest to do something about this culture. We need to be proactive and do more when the opportunities arise. The more District tells us what they will do, and we sit there and take it, the more we perpetuate the culture. We need to be the solution to future concerns, instead of coming in at the 11th hour demanding change. I wonder if this security initiative would have gotten this far if we had given more support and strength to our faculty councils over the years.
    BTW, this is not a bashing of CCC, though I’m still on the fence with all the “centralized” changes that have taken place and the initiatives coming out of 226 W Jackson (riddle me this – what’s really, really, come out of Reinvention that has brought about meaningful changes?). This is a call to arms for all faculty to do what is needed in order to claim our college.


  2. So confused!

    I was looking for one component of the mission statement for HWC and looked on the website………..Apparently this is now the posted mission for the institution?


    As one of the City Colleges of Chicago, the mission of Harold Washington College is to provide a learning-centered urban institution of higher education that is accessible and affordable. The college offers opportunities for academic advancement, career development, and personal enrichment.

    City Colleges of Chicago has taken a big, bold step into its future with the launch of Reinvention. Harold Washington College plays a key role in the effort to transform City Colleges of Chicago into a world-class institution. Student success is the centerpiece of the Reinvention initiative, ensuring students are prepared to move into higher education and that they have the skills for jobs in the 21st Century.

    HWC strives to achieve these goals by providing liberal arts and career education, employing the latest technologies for students to thrive in a global and technological world, building local and global partnerships to stay current with the changing needs of a diverse community, and by sustaining an environment that promotes optimal learning for all students.”

    Don’t get me wrong…….I really like that the one above is more concise….but I do a lesson on the HWC and CCC mission statements and this is totally going to change things…..

    What happened to:

    Harold Washington College– “Harold Washington College is a learning-centered urban institution of higher education that offers accessible and affordable opportunities for academic advancement, career development, and personal enrichment. The College is committed to upholding high institutional and academic standards and to understanding and improving student learning.To accomplish its mission, Harold Washington College:
    • Demonstrates institutional integrity
    • Provides liberal arts and career education
    • Gathers and uses assessment information to improve student learning
    • Employs new technologies to enable students to thrive in a global and technological world
    • Builds local and global partnerships to address the changing needs and interests of a community comprised of a variety of cultures and backgrounds
    • Promotes and supports diversity
    • Encourages responsible citizenship
    • Sustains an environment that promotes optimal learning for all students” http://hwashington.ccc.edu/mission.asp?section=about&navpage=mstmt

    If it was going to be rewritten, shouldn’t the focus be on what the students will do? and what kind of people they become or are while they are with us? What is there experience? Why is the focus still on the institution and not on the students! Regardless, since I worked throughout the break and checked my email and Harold Lounge and Don’s Desk daily…….I must be losing it if I missed this.

    • Yes, that’s troubling. One of Don’s notable findings from his initial investigations was how “mission driven” the whole college was/is, and that was a key aspect of the Self-Study, I thought, too.

      Seems strange that someone would want to/actually change the mission statement of such an institution without at least notifying those who are supposed to carry it out.

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