Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Baking the bread 

At today's faculty senate meeting, discussion of the mandatory training included in the anti-Semitism settlement. As we discussed here last November, the settlement included mandatory diversity training to include an anti-Semitism component, at the insistence of the Administration. Today the faculty senate discussed how to implement this.

Several faculty, including the only named plaintiff still on the faculty, reiterated that it was not their idea to have mandatory diversity training. The administration insisted on it. And many people -- including many who would argue we need LOTS of diversity training -- insisted that mandatory training doesn't work. Some worry of creating a worse climate on campus (i.e., those of us who don't like to be told how to think will be pissed off.) Others view it as ineffective, that nobody's mind is changed by mandatory training. Yet we're doing it. Any discussion of not doing it was overruled by the fact that it is in the consent decree, so that it must be done.

I'm not buying that. The legal responsibility to perform the action does not lie with the faculty but with the administration. If they wanted it, they should do it. They should propose how to implement this. But they have not. They have been silent ever since the settlement. And now we're bailing them out over fear of being in violation of a consent decree over which we had nearly no control and over fear that the administration might put a bad mandatory diversity training in place.

Let's not mince words: There's no right way to do the wrong thing. This is perceived by the administration, and in particular its leadership, as something it wanted, over the objection of the faculty and the plaintiffs, and now we are giving it to them. President Saigo will portray mandatory training of the faculty as a feather in his cap -- he will list it in his accomplishments as he seeks a new contract from MnSCU or a new presidency elsewhere. He will not buy the flour. He will not proof the dough. He will not bake the bread. But he will most certainly want to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

I for one will vote with my feet. I will not attend, and will gladly sacrifice a day's pay to make my point. If enough of us do it, maybe we can make a dent in the budget deficit as well as deny the administration its cap feathers.