The faculty senate meeting passed all four resolutions en bloc about 10:1, 336-34. The resolutions are here, here, here, and here. This morning, specific language of no confidence in the administration was removed from one of the resolutions by its sponsors so it wouldn’t appear to be a demand for resignation.
I think the attendance, 370 recorded as voting, was a record, about a quarter of the faculty. One could think the other two thirds would have voted no, but one would then probably also believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and be bidding for a bridge I am offering, [email me off-line on that]. It was not a good day for Chancellor Birgeneau, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Breslauer, or Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande. I recall an observation by Mark, possibly here, that more people are fired by their subordinates than by their bosses. That would be a fair characterization of the event; “no-confidence” language or not, it’s hard to imagine a more complete rejection of this team’s leadership, including their attempts to justify their decisions post facto. They may go on doing executive things and drawing pay for a while, but they will be doing it with nothing but the trappings of formal authority. Let us hope they at least understand this no longer includes the authority to sic armored police on students.
The meeting put itself into committee of the whole for an hour, after the resolutions were moved as a group, to allow discussion without having to fuss about Robert’s Rules, with another hour afterwards for voting and amending. The first 25 minutes of the discussion hour was granted to the three above-named to address the group; then they left. Not one clap. I interpret not staying for the meeting as some combination of cowardice or a constructive resignation, or maybe both. It was extremely painful to watch, worse because this plan was announced by the chair with the insulting justification that it would “allow us to speak freely,” – do they think we don’t dare say what we think in front of them? Really: they acted out, in front of everyone, their worst management habit, which is to talk instead of listening, and not ever visibly go into input mode or engage with the people who nominally work for them. Which, I guess, explains how they could so completely misread the mood of their troops. Someone mentioned that Birgeneau has lunch with a dozen faculty every month, which would have him encounter each of us every fifteen years. I don’t know who does the talking at those lunches.
A couple of dozen speakers lined up at the microphones for two-minute remarks, each to applause, and to my real surprise, not a single person spoke against the resolutions. No-one wanted to debate them formally or offer amendments: the issue was obviously settled already in all important respects. After the vote, there was another on whether to have a mail (web) ballot, which was defeated 216-165. Perhaps this should have gone the other way, but I have the sense that the no’s were not trying to protect the formal outcome of the meeting from being diluted or overturned (see fairy, tooth above), but just felt the message was so clear already, and the whole exercise so painful and embarrassing, that there was simply no point in bothering people who didn’t care enough to show up, or had to be in class.
Now we’re effectively rudderless. It will be interesting to see if there’s a way for the faculty to take on some authority. (A promising ray of sunshine: mirabile dictu, I was buttonholed by the chair of the Committee on Teaching, who had come upon this post and asked if I wanted to chat with the committee about things they could do beyond choosing the annual teaching award winners.)
Or we can just wait for Zeusdof to throw a new log in our pond. I don’t think we will sit still for a stork now, at least I hope not.