January
21st 2014
Baa Ram U. fails to distinguish between the victims of mass-murder and mass-murderers; suspends email account of professor for historical analogy

Posted under: American history, class, jobs, local news, race, students, unhappy endings, wankers

cowgirlgun&holsterSMARTERSorry to be out of touch over the long weekend, friends.  I’ve been sick, and was made even sicker by this article forwarded by a colleague:

On Friday, many at Colorado State University-Pueblo nervously awaited word from administrators on exactly how many jobs would be eliminated there. Officials had warned that the number could be as high as 50 — a prospect that angered many students and professors at the university who dispute administrators’ assertions that the institution faces a deficit requiring layoffs.

Timothy McGettigan, a professor of sociology, sent out an email to students and faculty members in which he urged them to fight the cuts. His subject line was “Children of Ludlow,” referring to a 1914 massacre of striking coal miners in southern Colorado. McGettigan compared the way the central system administration was treating Pueblo to the bloody way coal mine owners treated their workers 100 years ago. He went on to say that, just like a century ago, those without power were being mistreated.

He said that the announcement that afternoon would reveal who was on Chancellor Michael Martin’s “hit list,” and said that the chancellor was “putting a gun to the head” of those who would lose their jobs, “destroying the livelihood of the people that he is terminating” and “incinerating the best opportunity that southern Coloradans have to earn their own little piece of the American dream.”

Of course, Jonathan Rees has been on this.  Unbelieveably, this is the explanation of CSU-Pueblo President Lesley Di Mare:

“On Monday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Colorado State-Pueblo sent an email to Inside Higher Ed saying that McGettigan had violated the policy on use of electronic communications. Further, she released a statement from President Lesley Di Mare, in which she invoked recent incidents of violence in education. “Considering the lessons we’ve all learned from Columbine, Virginia Tech, and more recently Arapahoe High School, I can only say that the security of our students, faculty, and staff are our top priority,” Di Mare said. “CSU-Pueblo is facing some budget challenges right now, which has sparked impassioned criticism and debate across our campus community. That’s entirely appropriate, and everyone on campus – no matter how you feel about the challenges at hand – should be able to engage in that activity in an environment that is free of intimidation, harassment, and threats. CSU-Pueblo has a wonderful and vibrant community, and the university has a bright future. I’m confident that we can solve our challenges with respectful debate and creative problem-solving so that we can focus on building that future together.”

You know what I say to that, friends:  HORSESHIT!!!  

Was McGettigan over-the-top in comparing CSU-Pueblo faculty, staff, and students to the victims of the Ludlow Massacre?  No doubt.  Was his email at all threatening anyone?  I don’t see it.  But Di Mare compares McGettigan to notorious mass murderers at high schools and universities, as though he wrote his email from the perspective of the Ludlow bosses rather than their victims.

That’s my state and my university, friends:  we can’t keep actual guns off campus, but we suspend the email accounts of professors who suggest that little has changed for the poor residents of the Southeastern corner of our state in the past century.  Typed words and historical allusions are clearly a much bigger threat than actual guns on campus.

cowgirlgunsign1Di Mare and Chancellor Martin are wrong, but beyond that, they’ve created a huge public relations FAIL for the entire CSU system!  Think about it:  if they had ignored McGettigan’s email, only a few people affiliated with CSU would have seen it.  Now that they’ve retaliated with disproportionate force, they’ve brought all kinds of well-deserved but I’m sure unwelcome attention to their poor decisions.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, cashiering Di Mare and Martin would go at least part of the way towards solving the CSU-P “budget crisis.”  But that’s not the way it works in Colorado, where university administrators both propose budget cuts and dispose of the faculty at will.

15 Comments »

15 Responses to “Baa Ram U. fails to distinguish between the victims of mass-murder and mass-murderers; suspends email account of professor for historical analogy”

  1. EngLitProf on 21 Jan 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    Several recent incidents suggest that some university administrators do not know how to read—e.g., how to recognize and interpret hyperbole, metaphor, or metonymy. When Professor McGettigan uses a violent act as a metaphor to describe another’s actions, he is not actually talking about violence. (No one was killed in Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre.”) But does Lesley Di Mare really believe that Professor McGettigan engaged in intimidation, harassment, or threats? I’m curious.

  2. Historiann on 21 Jan 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    I really wonder if Di Mare knows what’s going on at her own uni. Her response smells like something cooked up to provide cover for a decision made by the Chancellor.

    Nothing here makes any damn sense, and Di Mare and Martin must know it. Why or how in the age of social media and plentiful email services they thought they could sanction or shut up a proffie by cutting off his email account is totally laughable.

    Maybe it just goes to show you that humanists are not the least informed digital citizens: it’s administrators who need to learn about the digital world.

  3. Comradde PhysioProffe on 21 Jan 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    “Several recent incidents suggest that some university administrators do not know how to read—e.g., how to recognize and interpret hyperbole, metaphor, or metonymy.”

    It’s like right-wingers who cannot tell the difference between depicting something and approving of it.

    BTW, the gun holster in the first Elvgren looks like it is drawn inconsistently with geometry.

  4. Lance on 21 Jan 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    We should give up speaking in metaphors.

    What a terrible story. If I remember correctly, he needs the email address to log onto Blackboard or whatever, right?

  5. Jonathan Rees on 21 Jan 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    Lance,

    It’s worse than that. Tim no longer has access to the Internet at all on campus. Draw your own conclusions from that information, but I would suggest that none of them are good.

  6. Lance on 21 Jan 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    We should do a kickstarter campaign to buy him a mifi.

  7. Susan on 21 Jan 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    This is so crazy. Tim is (if I read correctly) a tenured professor. If they decide to begin proceedings to fire him, they will look like total fools.

  8. koshembos on 21 Jan 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Academic Guantanamo pops up as the solution/punishment of choice by the big dogs of institutions. Should we be surprised? Not in my opinion, it’s the sign of the times.

    We confuse research ability, most dogs were researchers, with common sense and decency. Many of the dogs are downright stupid and evil. That’s is the reason they are dogs.

    They’ll continue as long as we let them. In the long run, we have the soldiers.

  9. Historiann on 21 Jan 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    I don’t think he needs a mifi–I’m sure he’s got internet at home and can find it at a local cafe for his office hours if he needs it. The real issue is that his email is just one part of his “e-id,” which is crucial for all kinds of university services from changing your benefits plan to using the library. I’m guessing that access to the university’s services that support teaching, like the library website (access to e-reserve, subscription journals, etc.), Blackboard (although I don’t know if he’s compelled to use it–I can teach without it just fine) is what’s at stake.

    It’s like the flashback scenes in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, in which the protagonist recounts the beginning of the right-wing religious takeover of her country: first they cut off women’s access to their own money via ATM.

  10. History Maven on 21 Jan 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    Hope McGettigan’s students send their email messages to Di Mare or to Martin with a request to forward their messages to him. Oh, wait…. can’t hit “send.”

  11. sophylou on 21 Jan 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    How do we teach students to read and write and search for/evaluate thoughtfully and critically when a university’s decision-makers seem to be unable to do so?

  12. Mazel on 21 Jan 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    Yep, total horseshit, dumped on Friday’s pile while it was still steaming.

    Clicking around this evening to bring myself up to speed on this particular pile of horseshit, in particular to understand just what this “CSU-Denver South” thingie is, I came across a CSU press release that says this:

    “The CSU-South Metro project is part of a strategic effort to showcase a new model for higher education that caters to both students and the business community.”

    Higher education that caters to the business community.

    Fuck I’m depressed.

  13. ProfSweddy on 22 Jan 2014 at 6:15 am #

    Oh, Colorado. It doesn’t make me feel any better that these kind of administrative decisions are made on both sides of the mountains. I wouldn’t be surprised if CSU-Pueblo took further actions to try to get a tenured professor fired. These administrative horrors have been creeping into less visible community colleges and small-time colleges (ahem, I mean _universities_ at least in name). We are the practice campuses, and bigger-time unis can learn from the administrators like mine.

  14. Historiann on 22 Jan 2014 at 6:54 am #

    ProfSweddy, you’re exactly right. I guess the question is whether or not CSU’s governing board is willing to let CSU-P look like a rinky-dink kind of place, or like a real university. From what they’re doing w/r/t the “South Metro” campus, it’s hard for me to predict which way they’ll go. Do they see their competition as Kaplan or Phoenix, in which case firing tenured professors is the way to protect their rinky-dink brand? Or do they see their peer universities as KU, Michigan State, etc. (the unis we’re always told are our peer unis up at CSU-FC)?

  15. “Run around out there, kids.” : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 22 Jan 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    […] I agree.  Let’s review: […]

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