Not in Our Names

May 5, 2013 | Blog

I have said it before and will say it again:  Please do not conflate the beliefs and actions of University faculty, students, or staff with the beliefs and actions of the Administrators.

Today I am flat-out embarrassed by the possibility that anyone might think that the educators, staff, or students of UW-Madison uniformly support the latest shenanigans perpetrated by our administration.  Three such action are especially revolting.

1. Administrators sent threatening letters to our students who are working diligently to ensure that those “in charge” uphold the ethical code of conduct governing UW-Madison’s business relationships, rather than kowtow to the business owners of Milwaukee.   More on that in the coming days.

2. The Interim Chancellor played “holier than thou” in a reprehensible letter published Friday about the words of a faculty member, Lydia Zepeda, chair of the shared governance committee on Labor Codes Licensing Compliance. He used the race card against her, calling into question a statement that makes complete and utter sense–and in doing so suggests that he is allowed to stand in judgement of what is “becoming” of shared governance leaders.

3. Tomorrow, Administrators will issue a press announcement in which it will attempt to deflect critique of UW-Madison’s substantial rainy day fund, by asking campus “leaders” to show all of the ways in which the money is being used for “good cause.” You can bet that the announcement will say nothing about the fact that the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates has failed to address students’ major needs, including removing bottlenecks in course access, because the money has been distributed in non-transparent ways, including contributing to this rainy day fund.  Try to look inside Madison’s budget– try asking “what’s the real cost of an undergraduate education” and how does this compare to the price being charged? You’ll get nowhere.  Defensive budgeting may be expected given the behavior of the Legislature, but it remains detrimental to all of the university’s publics.

Sadly, you’ll likely see little of our internal dissent revealed at tomorrow’s Faculty Senate meeting because shared governance, constrained as it is by fear and conservatism all around us, will be a short and sweet “front” to what’s really going on.  Amazingly, this is the last meeting we’ll hold until OCTOBER, showing you just how seriously this system is taken.  In the meantime, a new Chancellor and her people will come in, take over, and make a million decisions while most of us are scattered elsewhere, working frantically to get our research done.  Come fall, no doubt more surprises will be revealed.

As he leaves this second term of office, I am left wondering: Why isn’t Chancellor Ward choosing to leave the University the proud, ethical institution it has the opportunity to be?  Why not do right by the exploited workers of Palermo’s? Why not praise his students and faculty for speaking truth to power in this terrifying age of attacks on academic freedom?  Why not push the subsequent UW Administration towards greater transparency, not teach them how to hide?  Why act like one of the crowd, rather than a leader for the greater good? Carpe diem, Chancellor.

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