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.