Friday, February 10, 2012

Bargaining Bizarre

Since I have been posting the administration's messages and then criticizing them, it is only fair that I do the same to the occupiers of the admin building.  So, below is their latest statement with my commentary in proletarian red:

PUBLIC RELEASE — #6party 2.0’s First Communiqué

On 9 Feb 2012, after the inspiring delivery of food and supplies, we met to discuss the efficacy of #6partying and the interpretation of our messages, in general.
We are still fully committed to the #6party and all of our actions and communiqués to date, but we also find it is necessary to augment our message publicly to show that we are engaging in internal dialogue. Everyone should know that we are anti-dogmatic and dedicated to ideological movement and pragmatic analysis — of ourselves and others.
We appreciate all critiques — positive or negative, internal or external — and thus, we honestly express our love towards anyone who found the strength to speak their true views about our action.
In response to conversation between the #6party on the sixth floor, the #6party on the ground, worldwide reaction, and the complete non-recognition by Administration — which strengthens our allies’ resolve — we have reformulated our demands.
Humble, they are not.  "Worldwide reaction"?  Hmm, I am sure the folks in Burkina Faso, Bhutan and Borneo are most attentive/
1) QPIRG & CKUT: our demand remains the same
Of course, this is the key to their claims and their current mobilization.  Again, the admin already has folks who represent those organizations and who represent the students, so it is extremely unlikely that there will be any bending here.
2) Deputy Provost Student Life & Learning [DPSLL] Morton Mendelson, Ph.D, continues to work out of the Service Point until the completion of the remainder of his one-year term extension, which was unilaterally imposed upon the Students without consultation.
Since when does any university consult with students about administration appointments?
We believe the Administration has not yet heard our message and so, we will be explicit about the new role DPSLL should play at Service Point. The position will be reconfigured such that it is no longer possible to hide from the student body on the sixth floor of James Admin.
The university has heard the messages, although this is perhaps the clearest statement.  It is not about the university not hearing these folks, but rather not being interested in negotiating with a group that has no standing.  While the demands are essentially completely unreasonable, the core message continued within should be one that the university does pay attention to: that the administration is out of touch with the students, needs to take more seriously that the university is really about two hunks of people: the students (grad and undergrad) and the profs. Sure, the alum matter via donations, the administrators matter as well, but the place, the institution, its reputation all depend on the performance and participation by the faculty and by the students.  So, the university needs to a better job of anticipating what the students need and want, what the next generation of students require, and make some hard decisions even if they upset the students, like seeking more tuition so that the students have decent sized classes, non-crumbling infrastructure and the rest. But worrying more about liability than anything else (the name changes, for instance) is not the right way to go.
At Service Point, the DPSLL shall perform duties from the reception area so that the role becomes reconstructed as a positive public mediator between the Students and the Administration. This is not unreasonable as every other Undergraduate Student service has already been moved from James to the Service Point — except the office of DPSLL.
Better access to the Dean of Student Life makes sense, but he/she is not the servant of the students
Furthermore, we demand that the relocation of the DPSLL’s office to the Service Point not displace any of the under-respected support workers, who already engage in positive dialogue with students every day.
How can students meet their representative, if professors are also unable to enter the building. Before 7 Feb, the DPSLL’s “open door policy” had been obfuscated by layers of impenetrable security.
The Dean of Student Life is not the students' representative.  The folks running the various student organizations represent the students.  The job of the DPSLL is to administrate the various programs that deal with students' lives.  The Dean should be responsive but not be expected to represent.
Thus we demand that at the very least, 15% of the DPSLL’s workday shall be systematically devoted to holding open office hours for consultation with students.
This is not unreasonable, as he has been there since 7 Feb 2012 and McGill has not yet shut down.
I am pretty sure the Dean's schedule is pretty full, so that holding office hours may not be the best use of his or her time.  That being said, the Dean obviously could do more to appear to be in touch with what the students want.  Not that the Dean has to do everything the students desire, but that the administration of students' lives is seen as focused on the best interests of the students.
3) Room 621 in the James Administration Building be recognized by the McGill Administration as student-space, to be reconfigured by students and freely accessed without fear of repercussion.
Very funny.  There seems to be much confusion about the perhaps of this enterprise we call the University.  It is not a business where the students are clients who can demand that the business caters to their whims--the customer is not king and is not always right.  Neither students nor anyone else are really served in such a climate.  A community of mutual respect, where the goals are to foster inquiry, understanding, dare I say enlightenment, enrichment and improvement; where students, faculty, staff, and administration are focused on the greater good for now and for the future.  Geez, I guess I am the idealist.
We are glad that our message has reached so many eyes and ears.
In Solidarity,
#6party Upstairs
H/T to Jacob Levy for tweeting the link and also noting that these folks are not negotiating for immunity from university judicial procedures.


Anonymous said...

Point of clarification: the university does in fact consult with students on some administrative appointments (and I'm sure you know that students are also involved in faculty hires). The DP-SLL position is one which is explicitly defined as a position requiring student consultation during the appointment process. This was done when Mendelson was hired as the first-ever DP-SLL. Since he is not new this year, but is instead being 'reappointed' for another term, the administration determined that further consultation was not required. Whether this is appropriate and in keeping with the regulations has been a point of contention since September, and the subject of extensive meetings between student association executives and senior administrators (to little avail).

Steve Saideman said...

Thanks for the clarification. I did not know the history of this. Again, this illustrates McG being ham-handed. The admin could have consulted the students and then ignored them more discreetly. That is how undegrad and grad involvement in faculty hiring essentially works. They get to participate, but their feedback only matters (sorry) if it is used strategically by folks involved in the politics of the hiring.