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!

Think, Know, Prove–The IDs

Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

So, what’s with the new ID thing, I wonder. It all started, as you may recall, with a ridiculously timed email (at least for faculty from Brandon Pendleton that arrived on Thursday, May 6th at 5:12 pm (that would be the Thursday before Finals week) saying:

HWC has recently instituted a new security photo identification system. While transitioning over from the old system to the new, it was discovered that many current HWC employees do not have a photo in our database. All HWC employees are required to have a photo ID in our system. That being said, you must do the following: 1.) Contact the security office at (312) 553-5698 between the hours of 9 AM – 5 PM and confirm that you have a photo ID in the system 2.) If not, you must get a memo from your department supervisor with your job title, department and employee ID number (you can actually produce the memo and just have your supervisor sign it). Bring that memo to security so they can validate your employment and take your photo for inclusion in our system. You can find you employee ID number on your pay check stub.

Then, I didn’t hear another thing about it until this week when a list went out with the names of “non-compliant” people  who have not updated their IDs. I was on it. Then, an email from Metoyer comes on Wednesday saying that we’ll have to show IDs to get in to see the Chancellor on Thursday. THEN, I hear all sorts of things: rumors from security, talk of an adjunct getting the bum’s rush, talk of worst case scenarios, and so on.

Myself, I think it is probably some sort of policy standardization across the colleges; I’m sure the faculty at some of the other colleges, maybe all, have to show their IDs to go to college meetings, even if it is not what we do. Whatever else might be true of her, the new Chancellor does seem to have a thing for consistency of policy. But that is my guess. I wonder what this “new security photo identification system” is and what it is for. I wonder what happened to my old picture–the one they use for the catalog and whenever else they need a picture of me. I wonder if any of those bubbles in the hallways have cameras in them yet.

What’s behind this new ID and security push? Enforcement of an old policy? New policy? A harbinger of things to come? A mere anomaly?

Furthermore, do you think it’s good? Do you think it’s bad? Do you think it’s like a box of chocolates?

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?