Monday, June 07, 2004

Diversity and University - synonyms or antonyms? 

Earlier today an SCSU administrator sent out an e-mail to 20 university staff and faculty members who were unable and/or unwilling to attend last month�s rapidly organized campus-wide �mandatory diversity-training sessions.� Mandatory make-up sessions are now being offered in an effort to comply fully with a court-ordered settlement brought by various plaintiffs. As one of the twenty who has yet to attend, here�s part of what I wrote back:

My priority this summer is to be with my wife as much as possible. With luck, her chemotherapy and radiation treatments could be completed by Thanksgiving, but we�ve already had one significant setback. It�s possible that I might be free to volunteer 75 minutes to attend a workshop either August 30th or 31st, when I hope to be on campus.

Before I consider trying to commit to a workshop date, please allow me to ask a number of questions which I believe all SCSU staff and faculty members (as well as Minnesota taxpayers) have a right to have answered.

1) Who, specifically, requested that mandatory diversity training be part of the court-ordered settlement?

2) Which party (or parties) does that person (or persons) represent: Minnesota�s Attorney General, MnSCU, SCSU, IFO, FA of SCSU, the plaintiffs, or others?

3) Why has it been so difficult to get an answer to these first two questions?

4) Do not the administrators of SCSU understand that failing to answer the first two questions above serves only to deepen campus-wide beliefs that our leaders eschew individual accountability, while they embrace the insidiously divisive concept of collective guilt?

5) Would not the diversity training session that I attended following Convocation last fall suffice?

6) How much did Minnesota taxpayers contribute toward the cost of diversity training at SCSU last fall and this May?

7) In his e-mail of April 22, President Saigo wrote: �I also must re-emphasize, very strongly, that this is not an optional matter and that disciplinary action, as outlined in each bargaining unit�s contract, will be enforced should you not complete the training.� To what disciplinary action, specifically, does President Saigo refer?

Perhaps university authorities will be able to answer these questions after July's court hearing to monitor compliance with the court�s order - that was apparently agreed to by all parties. But don't hold your breath. It seems that embracing collective responsibility means never having to say you're sorry. Expect the current climate of collective finger-pointing and ass-covering by all parties to continue. But stay tuned in any case.