Statement For Current DOC TA 2

Date: Jun 3, 2007 10:33 PM
Subject: the lingering dismissal…
To: moc.liamg|atapazabmumul#moc.liamg|atapazabmumul

Through the ever-thickening haze surrounding the
critique of DOC, none
of us should not forget the actual TAs and students
who are at the
heart of the issue. This letter, then, is not about
the curriculum. It
is about the gross mishandling of a constructive
critique. Instead of
supporting an idea from two good-standing
colleagues, or even
considering the idea, TMC administration, from the
start, has
singlemindedly set out to sink the idea, and to sink
two colleagues
This depersonalization of the matter was epitomized
even in the way
the administration handled the recent walk-out. The
night before,
Provost Havis pleaded with the entire DOC community,
via email, to
refrain from coming to class at all, rather than
disrupt lecture. This
not-walk-in strategy, though perhaps a good one in
disbanding the
student protest (though at a university I don't
think we should be
dealing in tactics), was a missed opportunity to
address a burning
issue. The "matter at hand" was not mentioned even
once in the email.
Likewise, the Provost also issued a threat of a
"commensurate
reduction in pay" to any TA that wouldn't be present
in the following
lecture. The fine, considering most TA's lead two
sections, would have
amounted to around 1/80th of a monthly paycheck, or
17 dollars. And
yet the most patronizing aspect of the threat was
not the fine, but
the fact, again, that the Provost decided not to
talk about the issue,
or even to mention it.

If the administration accuses LZC and its supporters
of ad hominem
attacks, then let them stand accused of abuse of
authority, a
calculated politics of indifference, and
dehumanizing the entire
situation.

For exactly what the two TAs were fired for we
still don't know.
Repeatedly the administration has told us that they
can't legally talk
to students, TAs, or even concerned faculty about
the issue because a
formal grievance has been filed. First of all, that
is simply not
true, as the TA union has explicitly testified.
They can talk about
it. They have an ethical responsibility to talk
about it, a
responsibility to talk about the unmistakable unease
that has been
brewing and a responsibility to justify their
actions to the deeply
concerned community. And yet they refuse. Supposed
"legal decorum"
should never stand for skirting an issue. It seems
that the repeated
"we can't talk about it" is becoming nothing but a
passive-aggressive
ploy at filibustering. The administration has shown
us their true face
and it seems to be but an officious smile. True,
spurred on by the LZC
and the overall critique of DOC, a review committee
has been formed,
and now that committee may even stand to recognize
student
representation. But let's remember that this
committee was initially
pushed by and fought for by the two TAs who have now
been pushed and
fought out of their jobs.

And so this is what we are left with… the
administration has
recognized the importance of the policy and
forgotten the bodies
behind it. That's approaching dangerously close to
academic piracy, or
maybe we could call it live-action plagiarism. The
ends, the
unjustified and undefended dismissal of two
good-standing TA's, do not
justify these means. Let me briefly address the
parsimonious
rationalization that the administration has
presented for the
"unhirings".

One- they were dismissed because they were
presenting the students
with an alternative curriculum. Now, as multiple
students of the TAs
in question have corroborated, the claim is simply
not true. If,
however, the claim is that the TAs gave the students
the option to do
outside reading for their presentations, then they
have clearly
trespassed no policy, as the Head TA has very openly
shared a
sanctioned outline to do exactly the same, that is,
ask students to
find and read material not included in the
curriculum. There is even a
binder in the DOC office with suggested outside
material for the TAs
to share with their students.

Two- they were fired because they were making
demands that the
curriculum be changed. Yet there is no evidence that
any "demand" was
ever made. The TAs in question, as well as a number
of other TAs, had
had several civil, professional meetings with the
administration to
discuss their concerns. The administration's
deflecting of the issue
is not only disrespectful of the two TAs in
question, it is
disrespectful of all the TAs who may have concerns
in the future and
now be reluctant to voice them, it is disrespectful
to the students
who deserve a well-refined curriculum that can only
come with repeated
and vigorous critique, it is disrespectful to the
history of Thurgood
Marshall College, and the people who fought to make
it stand for a
diverse, alternative, student-oriented place of
learning, and it is
disrespectful to academic freedom in general.

And so how long can we stand by and watch the
administration use their
positional clout to fire our colleagues for
unsubstantiated and
undefended reasons? There's an answer. It wasn't a
rhetorical
question. We can stand by and watch for about
another week. And then
we can all go home for the summer, and forget about
it. But I don't
think the two TAs are going to forget about it.
They don't have jobs.
They are an integral part of the community. They
are outstanding TAs.
Their students, fellow TA's, and even Dr. Shragge
and Dr. Wright have
attested to that. They are exemplars of DOC. Their
efforts should be
celebrated and encouraged and stand as examples of
positive thinking
and positive change, not reprimanded and then used
to replace creative
and constructive criticism with fear and silent
complacency… The
issue needs to be addressed. It is our
responsibility to break this
unprofessional silence.

Let my anonymous signature be a sign for the
legitimate fear and
intimidation stirred up by the administration. The
TA's have heard a
clear message: don't critique the program or you
will be fired. Until
the decision is reversed (or at the very least,
explained), and Scott
Boehm and Benjamin Balthaser are rehired, there is
no other message to
be heard.

Very Sincerely,
A Concerned TA

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