Love Letters and Hate Mail, April 20, 2017 Edition

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I have been following your columns with interest but take exception to your recent editorial where y
Tony Williams

I have been following your columns with interest but take exception to your recent editorial where you state (without any evidence ) that SIU “faculty instantly despised” former chancellor Rita Cheng. That was not actually the case and was the reverse of what you state. From the moment of her arrival, Cheng began to micromanage SIU affairs in a dictatorial manner, announced her clear intention of union-busting, and provoked the first faculty strike in SIU history. She also earlier brought in furloughs that were later declared illegal by the Illinois Labor Board. Her negotiating team during the penultimate faculty contract negotiations deliberately engaged in provocation against those on the other side of the negotiating table. In other words, she acted in the same manner that Governor Rauner is doing now, and I find it amazing to read your words of support on her behalf. It very much echoes the alt.news, Fox agenda affecting journalism today. Go and contact people who were actually involved before you write such opinions.

Had she remained, it is very likely that the current SIU president would have removed her as he did with one of her stooges.

However, she was not totally to blame. The president who hired her [Glenn Poshard] could easily have removed her before a strike occurred. After all, he did so with her predecessors! I find it revealing that you do not mention the plagiarism this person engaged in. Did that not play a part in declining enrollment? It is revealing that the Board of Trustees and those “blue-ribbon faculty” adjudicators did not have the courage of their convictions in assessing correctly this shameful issue. Was it also possible that this former president covertly supported Cheng’s actions? Do some real investigative journalism before you indulge in more “faculty bashing.”

Also, in retrospect, it is clear that the Faculty Association bungled the strike by beginning it on a Wednesday and not on a Monday, sabotaging the necessary strategy of five uninterrupted days of action. Instead, they allowed a weekend break that dissipated the effective impact of any strike. Since they have now agreed to contracts allowing higher administration to dictate in corporate language who gets a sabbatical (once a natural right of all tenured faculty), as well as allowing the operation of inhumane, mechanical, metric forms of evaluation without any opportunity for concerned faculty to debate this dire attack on academic freedom, it is not surprising that they have refused to support the Edwardsville campus in justifiably refusing to bail out this sinking ship.

While faculty retire and positions remain unfilled, six-figure salaried higher administrations positions remain constant with new hires replacing retirees. Education again remains on the bottom rung of the ladder. Rather than entertainments such as Halloween, Springfest, and athletics, students really come to a university for a first-class education and if they do not find it, they correctly feel cheated and will go elsewhere.

Unless there is a radical sea change in SIU making education rather than administration the priority, this institution has no real future.

Tony Williams

 

Professor, SIU English Department