Home Education Fable about politicized reviews of performances (opinion)

Fable about politicized reviews of performances (opinion)

Fable about politicized reviews of performances (opinion)

We, professors, tend to procrastinate. And maybe I’m a little weaker than average.

So it’s no surprise that I waited until the last day to open the file and fill out my annual faculty review. It was long, longer than last year, it was longer than the previous one and so on. There were nine categories by which we had to report. No one was really unexpected. We had to describe our research work, the classes we taught, the administrative work we finished. We had to list the prizes we won and the grants we got (zero and zero in my case).

But this year was something new. In a hurry to complete the form, I almost missed it. And when I saw it, I was very upset. Under each category was a new and unexpected question. What has our science done, what has our teaching done to achieve certain things? To be more specific, what did he do to advance the cause of Freedom? And what was done to advance the cause of the Flag?

Flag and Freedom: These were two new sections in our review forms. I wasn’t sure what they meant by freedom – I’m for freedom and all, but freedom seems to have become a political buzzword, mostly for the right. And the flag? Did that mean patriotism? Did that mean I had to acknowledge allegiance to the United States? I love my country; of course I do. But the question sounded like part of an oath of allegiance from the McCarthy period. It all seemed crazy. I had to figure out what was going on.

I rushed to campus as fast as I could, probably forgetting even more things than usual. I was going to talk to my chair. He’s a great guy who understands and I was confident he would be able to sort me out. But before I got to the department, I ran into the dean of the college. The dean is tall and authoritative, well known for his intelligence and sincerity.

I barely greeted the dean and just started chatting with her. “What is this?” I asked. “This is wrong. You ask us to make political commitments. We must enjoy academic freedom while you try to direct our work to political goals. Flag and freedom. I can appreciate these things. We all probably do things our own way. But now these are political values ​​- or they are politicized; perhaps it is better to say. Don’t you think that our teaching and writing should be free from political pressure? ”

Dean is a very patient and kind person, but I saw that she was annoyed.

“Oh, no,” she said, “another one.”

I thought she meant another person who complained about these new standards. And it was really good. Maybe I had some allies and I could calm down. But no, she didn’t mean that.

“There were mistakes,” the dean said with a long sigh, “and I thought we all caught them.”


“Yes, several evaluation templates came out with the wrong categories – political categories. I thought we all found and replaced them, but I guess not. “

“How did this happen?”

Dean said she wasn’t sure. Maybe some right joke played some stupid thing. “But when you saw them,” she said, “you probably should have known. We cannot demand that your work be on the political agenda. It would be unethical and it would get us into big trouble. ”

I can’t tell you how relieved I am. The flag? Freedom? I have no idea what to say. I could even leave the boxes empty in protest.

“Don’t worry,” she said, “we’ll use our usual categories this year, but we’ll ask an additional question. And it will not be about the Flag and Freedom, ”she said with a soft laugh. “We will ask you how your contribution in each category adds to the ethical commitments that the university has made – you and I, indeed – have made.”

“So diversity, fairness and inclusion?” I asked. “These are ethical commitments.”

“Yes, that’s right,” said the dean. “Virtually every university is doing it now. Or they will do it soon. “

“Now there are people who say that diversity is a political value. They associate this with affirmative action. And you know, ”the dean frowned majestically,“ most Americans, according to most polls, are against positive action?

I was confused. “So doesn’t that make him political?” I asked. “You know, like Flag and Freedom.”

“No, no,” she said. “This is a common mistake. Diversity is an ethical commitment. It’s not about the majority, voting, etc. We are talking about right and wrong. Aren’t you against diversity? ” She asked.

I was quick to say it wasn’t, not a bit. I was for diversity. Although at that point I remembered that the university never found the time to tell us exactly what that word meant. Nor has he ever told us what justice and inclusion mean.

“And I am sure,” the dean continued, “that you are all for justice. This is another ethical value that we share here. “

“Equity? Well, that should be good. I think I’m all for it. “

“Good, good. I’m glad to hear that, ”she said, but it’s not very friendly now. I began to think that I was being carefully considered, perhaps evaluated for loyalty. “Are you one of us?” Such things. I was going to tell her how I voted for Bernie Sanders twice, but managed to stop myself.

“Now there are people who think wrong, who think that justice is also political,” she said. “Perhaps they are okay if they help the poor and disadvantaged in the beginning. These are equal opportunities. But then they get furious when we say these disadvantaged people need to rise when it comes to employment or promotion. They say it’s “putting your finger on the scales”.

“Well, I don’t think I agree with them,” I said. Maybe because he believed, or maybe because he wanted to break free from the bad deeds of the dean. I am now an associate professor. I hope to be a future professor in the spring. Will not help the dean to be the enemy. But then a thought came to my mind, and for some reason I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.

“I’m with you on justice,” I said. “I really do.” And at that point I really was too. I wanted to erase that gloom from the dean’s face.

“However,” I said, “could not esteemed people disagree on this question of justice?” I mean not on par with the starting line, it’s a simple matter. But couldn’t people disagree on how far to extend this principle? So isn’t it political? ”

“This institution,” she said, “is trying to do something good in the world. We want to do ethical good. But let me emphasize that, ”she frowned now,“ we can reflect on these commitments, but they are mostly indisputable. These are not political footballs like the Flag and Freedom and whatever – Faith and Family. These are indisputable goods. Or at least I see it, and so does the university. ”

I stood, swallowing. I was going to ask what the school meant by inclusion, but it was clearly time to cut its losses.

“Now,” said the dean softly, “you’d probably better go home and fill out the annual report.” Time is short. And I’m sure that if you think about it, you’ll see that there are a dozen ways that your work is introduced directly into our ethical program. ”

She was so confident, and she argued so well – at least much better than I could, and in the end, she was the dean. So I nodded and smiled, went home as soon as possible and got to work. I was amazed at how much (perhaps with some stretch marks here and there) I had to invest in diversity, equity and inclusion. And now that I know how important this is, I’ll probably have more for the next review. I already have ideas for new DEI writing projects and new DEI courses for teaching. Despite all my worries and the fact that I did it at the last minute, I managed to give a good report. I will not be surprised if next spring I will be promoted to professor.

Note: this is, indeed, a fiction, a fable. But the fact is: this year my college asked faculty in their annual reports to tell how they contributed to diversity, equity and inclusion in every aspect of their work, including teaching and research. Other colleges will no doubt follow suit if they have not already done so.

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