A comparison between university administrators and internet trolls: A thread that is likely to cause me trouble.
I have noticed at my own institution a veritable tsunami of administrator reports that require faculty to take time away from their real work (students, research) to comment on them.
Some of these reports are simply poorly written or thought out. They betray a fundamental misunderstanding of how the institution works, or what is reasonable, or who does what job.
Other reports seem more sinister: financial accounting that systematically undermines the "value" of particular kinds of programs, for example.
The thing all these reports have in common is the attitude of the internet troll. Ignoring them is seen as ceding the argument, but responding takes inordinate amounts of time to state things that should be obvious.
By obvious I mean: The humanities matter, general education-oriented depts. matters (even when students don't major in them), and administrators' often bloated pay might be a bigger financial issue that the pay of adjuncts and early career faculty.
So faculty spend the time. They respond to the reports, point out the implicit biases, check the numbers, argue the points, etc.
And none of it makes a damn bit of difference, because -- like internet trolls -- the people writing these reports have no intention of changing their minds or practices. At best, they want the veneer of "participation," and at worst they just want to waste your time.
This leads to a bifurcation among faculty who see this happening: either retreat into your own teaching/research because responding to the shit doesn't matter, OR become radicalized and loud.
The admin assumes the former group is happy with the status quo, and the latter group would be angry no matter what they did. So they further ignore faculty input, or start acting like it's not important to solicit. ("We invited them to an open townhall! But no one came!")
All this is another reason why university administrators have to get a LOT better at listening and trying to reach consensus.
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