Desperate Times at Campus Zero

Posted on behalf of Michael Heathfield

I couldn’t help but throw my hat into the ring, so to speak.  Who could have imagined that Soviet-style management would come back into fashion?  Deeds of dismissal continue to increase at an alarming rate as those who sit at the elite table are pulled even closer to the flame and given a big pay raise to help ease the discomfort they must surely feel at the parade of disastrous decisions from leadership.  As most of us know, the mortgage will not pay itself and metaphors don’t mix themselves.

Administrators must tread with care to negotiate the daily offerings from Campus Zero giving you the opportunity to thrive, survive or take the dive. As with many empires, the leadership is immune from a more ordinary sense of awareness. This may explain why in our most recent CCC budget District simply calls itself a campus. Of course, it is the most expensive campus of all – serving no students. Campus Zero.

The deeds of dismissal are varied and frequent and I sense that impetus for change will not come from within the politburo. I will begin by sharing at the personal and move outward from there. I have learned that leading with a poignant personal story is a good way to serve up dumb decisions.

I have been full-time faculty since 2006 and for eight solid years my paystub has noted that I work in the Foreign Languages department.  Now I know I am English, and that for my first few years in the U.S. I was officially an alien, but I have never taught a foreign language in my life. Thank goodness, especially since sometime ago we realized the inherent racism of “foreign” languages.  But not to worry about petty labels, all is good. Since fall 2014, I apparently work in the Social Services Department.  Now, I have very briefly worked in that department, but only when someone from Campus Zero decided to rename the Applied Science Department.  I guess a wiser head pointed out that Child Development, Criminal Justice and Mental Health did not fit under a social service label. Thank goodness for wiser heads.  Of course, no one in the department was involved in this temporary decision. I suppose it is a moot point, since the whole department will be gone in a year from now, so why fuss about labels?

But surely our students don’t suffer with these petty dysfunctions? You all know the answer. Every spring semester I have to sign waivers for youth work students to graduate from their program without a mythical second Mental Health course.  The course in question, is not now, nor has never been, part of the youth work degree program.  Someone at Campus Zero must have slipped it in there and no one has ever managed to get it back out again.  Believe me, many have tried. So every spring I spend my time subduing the panic that ensues when students are miss-advised they are short a course for graduation. So when the youth work and social work programs close at HWC at the end of this semester, Campus Zero will have found a solution to this persistent lack of care for our students.

If you have ever been brave enough to take a program change through the PAC process you may not be surprised to know that Campus Zero has no policy or procedure for ensuring approved changes actually get registered in any of their systems that face students or advisors.  Catalogues, degree program advising materials, and completion databases exist in a parallel universe that are very resistant to change and are fundamentally disconnected from the academic approval process up to and after ICCB approval.  These information accuracy concerns have consistently been presented to senior leadership.  Sometimes at Campus Zero the lights are on but no one is home.

Desperate empires always seek to control their message, which I guess is why not one student in the social work or youth work programs has been officially told that at the end of this semester their programs are closed.  Not “consolidated” but closed. Maybe at this specific time in Chicago, the Mayor doesn’t care for noise about small social work and youth work programs.  Nor does he appear to care about a Campus Zero citywide map of programs that will shortly say to Chicago taxpayers that for Child Development or Teaching you must go far north. While if you are interested in Social Work or Addictions Studies, you must go far south.  This is Campus Zero’s vision of “One Chicago”.  Oh, wait that’s NBC’s branding phrase for all the Chicago-based TV offerings where Rahm can play a Mayor opening things.

If you are interested in a vocation, contributing to Chicago communities through care or service to others, go elsewhere.  Dismissed.  If you need to be a part-time student, dismissed.  If you are an international student, dismissed. If you are a student who has no interest in dodgy workforce data projections about jobs available for community college graduates in ten years time, dismissed.

Perhaps, I write with the privilege of being old enough to see the exit sign. My own lovely gulag beckons. Now whether I make it through the door by my own volition or whether someone helps me through it, who knows!  But that’s what happens when your hat is in the ring.

Mike Heathfield


6 thoughts on “Desperate Times at Campus Zero

  1. Thank you for sharing. So many times my students tell me they are interested in becoming social workers and helping their communities. I am sad to work for a school which will soon not allow them the opportunity to pursue that dream of community involvement. We say it over and over again, but really, what purpose does district serve except to make decisions which negatively impact the lives of Chicago citizens. Chancellor Zero has a lot to answer for as she continues to “dismiss” the community in community college.

    • Agreed with this. Considering how much Chicago needs well-trained and taught people to work with its youth and the quality of Michael’s work and students over the years, I don’t know how they can do this in good conscience. Same with Anthony’s Addiction Studies program. The students from our applied sciences programs have been some of my favorites and some of the most valuable contributors to philosophical discussions I’ve ever had. People interested in people, many of whom have been through one kind of hell or another and come out on the other side, all of whom are committed to making sure that kids have it better than they did, all of whom share that commitment despite the promise of low pay and hard hours because their future profession is a socially unappreciated one (or because their future clientele are). Jacking those people around and making it even harder for them is not going to make this city better. Not by a long shot. And whatever money it saves will be spent for things that matter far less.

      Here’s a set of fun facts from the 2016 budget to consider before this week’s “Budget Meetings” on campus:

      Campus Zero has an operating budget of $67,933,808 (that includes the $13,946,568 of “General Appropriations” but I’m not totally sure what those are).

      Within that budget, the “Office of Strategy, Institutional Intelligence, Academic Governance, Compliance, and Educational Quality,” which run by Rasmus, has a budget of $38,103,296

      By comparison:

      ~Olive Harvey: $24,178,934
      ~Daley: $27,736,246
      ~Malcolm X: $33,036,923
      ~Kennedy-King: $34,653,607
      ~Harold Washington: $37,708,918
      ~Wilbur Wright: $39,266,765
      ~Truman: $39,919,317

      Rasmus’ budget–JUST HIS–is larger than FIVE of the seven colleges. Campus Zero’s budget is larger than the sum of Harold Washington AND Wright’s. HWC and Truman added together are about the same as the DO, and Truman plus Wright are a little more, In other words, you have to add together the two most expensive college budgets to get a number that is significantly higher than what the District Office will spend next year.

      They get almost $70 million dollars and for that we get stuff like “Consolidation” and closing of programs with records of success that actually matter to the quality of life of real people, and garbage like ‘Grades First’, and ‘Akademos’, and empty shuttle buses, and new school colors, and thousands of AGS degrees–the equivalent of selling someone a bill of goods and handing them the paper–, and college-to-careers programs featuring a half-built Logistics center at one college, a $250 million dollar building run by a President with (only) a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and no background in educational administration, and a policy requiring people to fill out a form and get a sticker on their IDs for their religious beliefs.

      Chicago–the city that works (for some).

  2. On Thursday some of us were informed that HWC’s cadaver lab is no longer being used. Last May our cadaver, which was good for another eight and a half years of use for our students, was taken from Harold Washington. The reason seems to be because Malcolm X is the only one that could have a cadaver lab. Even though our cadaver lab was considered state-of-the-art and a model for other schools to use. Not only was this such a gross thing to do, it is a complete waste of resources of money and of a learning tool. How many examples can we come up with illustrating District’s complete disregard for the City of Chicago and her citizens.

    • Really? Seriously?

      That’s kind of hard to believe given the problems that Malcolm X has had with cadavers.

      Maybe I shouldn’t say “hard to believe;” what won’t they do?

  3. I don’t think the public, or the press, realizes the extent of the damages being done to CCC programs–all for the sake of helping the corporate world create their future, minimally paid workforce with little to no chance for advancement and taking away the people’s chances at a real education and self-fulfillment, whether the people are poor, part-time or international students.

    Please read. Please share. Please speak up.

    We cannot let this happen.

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