I am disappointed by the negative campaigning and vague campaign promises from the challengers for Academic Senate officer seats. Lack of support and evidence, false statements made about the incumbents, and overall negative campaign strategy are clear indicators to me that these are not appropriate qualities for future senate leadership.
Don’t get me wrong: I respect each of my faculty colleagues as individuals with certain positive contributions to offer the college. However, their message now about representing faculty and shared governance is suspect since their record of having the courage to stand up for adherence to Title 5 53200 (10+1) and the faculty voice when the administration trampled on it is absent. Cries for “collegiality” and “civility’” as well as achieving the ever-elusive “student success,” are much easier to promote than advocate for administrative transparency, careful college planning and respect for faculty roles.
It is unfortunate to see negative campaign tactics in a time when the rest of the college is getting along. One claim made was “Senate meetings are negative spaces.” Indeed, they have played personal roles in designing those spaces. Recently, the candidates from this slate have made temporary appearances in the Senate, conveniently just a few meetings before the election, and have harangued Senate leaders, attempted to derail the meeting, and ignored Robert’s Rules of Order rather than engage in civil, constructive dialogue. This is not my idea of ‘collegiality.’ Their campaign materials perpetuate a negative bent. Warning bells go off for me when their campaign is fraught with negativity, yet one of their proposed senate goals is to be models for collegial dialogue. The incumbents, on the other hand, have kept things positive, clean and honest.
Claims made throughout Foster’s OpEd of March 26, 2015 use vague language that in our writing courses, we warn students to avoid unless they follow up with specific examples. “Some public comments made…”, “dubious means”, “individuals feel…” “multiple faculty …have communicated”, “several of our colleagues” and so on are examples of the language found in their written campaign materials. Such generalized unsubstantiated language was also pervasive in the accreditation self-study, which was supervised by one of the candidates. The Senate body ultimately voted to recommended the Senate president not sign it – a fact that was blatantly misconstrued in the op ed as well as campaign flyer. With such language in the report, it came as no surprise to me that the ACCJC’s accreditation team considered it long and not substantial enough, as they expressed to the college in their exit meeting.
Stephanie Fleming and Matt Jordan came numerous times to the Senate to present accreditation updates, and the accreditation report was discussed in all but two senate meetings in Fall 2014. We in the Senate even devoted an entire meeting on Dec. 8, 2014 to discussing the report after it was finally finished and after Senators received hard copies to review. On their flyer and in the op-ed, this group accuses the incumbents of “refusing” to place the self-eval on the agenda for the full Senate Board to review. There was no ‘refusal’ because the officers put it on the agenda. According to the Senate office, the accreditation report was not included only once — when Fleming’s request was received too late. If they are elected, I fear misrepresentations and flimsy claims will be prevalent.
The op-ed claims that the current Senate officers put in an advertisement in the Courier. This also is untrue. In fact, the ad was apparently put out by current leaders’ supporters, unbeknownst to them. Before making statements that go to the press, one would hope – or rather, expect — such public statements would be substantiated and true.
Foster name-calls the Senate’s accomplishments as being “self-proclaimed,” but at least the incumbents have accomplishments listed on their platform. Foster’s slate, on the other hand, offers campaign promises, but without any indication of how they will, or whether, they can fulfill them, and their demonstrated negativity on their fast-n’-furious campaign trail is off-putting.
April 2 is the last day to vote in this election, and regardless of how faculty vote, I hope they use sensible intellect rather than sentiment driven by false and unsupported claims and an inherent double standard. I respect the fact that this group wants to step up to the plate, but I question how much senate experience they each have and whether as long-time faculty administrators they will adequately represent faculty concerns. Finally, I ask “Are things better or worse now at PCC?” If the college is better off now, why not keep a good thing going instead of placing a negative, unclear and risky bet down on the table.