Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why we should vote in favor of MOA: A glimpse of the bigger picture in an ACF's perspective

I am writing to share my views on the ongoing MOA voting. Particularly, I will argue that we should vote in favor of the proposed agreement. I am writing this because I fear that our perceptions of the immediate impact of voting in favor of MOA may potentially overshadow its long term positive implications. As an earnest effort to initiate a discussion on the importance of looking at the big picture, and, in order for us to take the right decision for the right reasons, I will address the following question:

Is the current crisis just another isolated issue, or is it one of the many more anticipated issues that have the roots in how the administration and faculty interact?

I am one of the twenty-nine ACFs who are at the heart of this issue; the issue, however, is bigger than us: the issue, here, is about the role of faculty in administrative decisions. I can't speak for all ACFs, so these are my personal views.

Traditionally, administration controls what happens in the university, including the fates of the faculty members. The only control we have is limited to what happens in the classroom; the number, size or availability of these classes, again, are in the hands of the administration. This is how the universities typically run, an inevitable consequence of the administrative governance in action.

Such administrations do not necessarily listen to the needs and ideas of the faculty or even care to genuinely acknowledge the efforts of the faculty members. The administration makes decisions, forwards the same to the deans who implement it by delegating it to the heads of the departments.

The department heads, in such a governance, have no say in the decisions. They can't even argue that the fired faculty are necessary for the departments to thrive. The department heads' concerns, about the their needs, about the potential burden on the faculty or about the decision's negative impact on the revenue needed to efficiently run the department, do not influence the administrative decisions. Yet, such administrative actions negatively influence the university's already prevailing problems such as the increasing issue of the declining student enrollment.

Unsurprisingly, the administration is more interested in operating the university as an enterprise, which makes sense given the responsibilities they carry. Accordingly, their decisions are based on numbers, budgets, and the need to properly run the university; such decisions do not necessarily take in to account the needs of the department, the necessity of offering classes, or the impact it may have on students. The current crisis pertinent to the twenty-nine ACFs is only a symptom of the bigger problem of the lack of any room for a proper communication, in this system of administrative governance, between the faculty and administration.

However, the current administration has taken a first major step towards building a friction-free environment for a better communication. Never in the recent history of EU has the administration considered to rectify/change their mistake/decision; this is an indication that the current administration is willing to listen to and act in accordance with the needs of the faculty.

The current president, I believe, has extended his hand, on the administration's behalf, to cooperate with the faculty; now, it is our turn to reciprocate by voting in favor of the agreement: it is our only opportunity to show that we have the ability to fix the problems created by the administration.

Our response could also imply a declaration of interdependence by the faculty by demonstrating that we are ready to address even the administrative issues; this would be an indication that the administration can not and should not run the university, autonomously. We can show that an interdependent system of shared governance, as opposed to an autonomous system of administrative governance, is the best way to move forward.

In deed, the ball is in our court, now: We could let the administration revert back to its favorite number-based, faculty-free, and mechanical -- the administrative governance -- way of running the university; undoubtedly, this would be an easy way out for us, a typical response of inaction for the fear of change. 

Alternatively, we could take control over the situation and lay foundations for a new life-based, faculty-influenced, nonmechanical -- shared governance -- way of maintaining the university.

I have voted in favor of reciprocating with the President Glassman's gesture of cooperation; what would you do? 

It is up to YOU, now: Think, act, and make your vote count.

Welcome to UpiEIU's blog

This blog aims to be a site on which we can share information and opinions. Each post is the opinion of the person who wrote it, unless otherwise indicated.

As you all (hopefully) now know, we are voting on a Memorandum of Agreement with administration; votes are due no later than 1 pm on Thu., 7/30/15. In order to vote by then, one must request a ballot no later than NOON on Thu., 7/30/15.

There will be a meeting to discuss this MOA and its ramifications on Wed., 7/29/15 at 4 pm in the Coleman Hall Auditorium. Attendees may vote in person at the meeting, if they choose to. Please spread the word!

Please see details of the MOA on our website. Note the FAQs link.
And here are the voting instructions.

If you have any additional questions, please contact a member of the executive committee (listed on the website).

If you would like to write something for our blog, please do! Contact Jeannie Ludlow to be added as an "author" on this site. All UpiEIU members are welcome to share ideas and opinions in this space.