Saturday, November 14, 2009

CSU in last week's news

Just in case you haven't been watching the latest on CSU in the news...

Peter Sachs is back reporting on education in The Chicago Current the new on-line local watchdog for Chi politics. Two articles from November 9, 2009 to check out:

"CSU Students Question Quinn Appointments"

and a follow-up to Dr Watson's actions at City Colleges, "Questionable Spending for Watson's Posh Party"

The Chicago Tribune hopes the appointment (at last) of four new trustees will help the situation at CSU:

"Starting Over" November 11th,0,1204074.story

And if you can access the Chronicle of Higher Education you can read what is really a love letter to Dr. Watson and Rev. Finney. Note--not one faculty member or representative of the faculty is quoted in this article even though two students appear. Is Hermene Hartman ghostwriting for the Chronicle now?

Chronicle of Higher Education November 8, 2009

"A Real-Life Lesson in Why Accountability Matters" by Goldie Blumenstyk

Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Amendment Anyone?

This week a draft document titled "CSU Policy Manual" made its way into our e-mail boxes with a request for comments. Self-described as "a reference tool to help managers understand and implement University policies," it is troubling on several levels.

First, the document is vague about which employees are being addressed. Sometimes, there is a reference to "all employees," although the majority of the document's text seems to be directed at CSU staff rather than faculty.

Second, the section titled "Public Relations" is extremely problematic. The full text reads:

"The Public Relations policy reflects and supports the University's one face to our students, community and supports. The policy makes it easier for everyone at the university to work with the news media and improves coordination of media relations throughout the organization.

All university employees are required to comply with this policy.

All inquiries from the press or other media must be referred to University Public Relations.

When anyone receives a call from the news media, ask and record the following information, then contact Public Relations:

Date and time of call
Caller's name
Name of publication, station and location (city, state)
Phone number
Specific question
Deadline, if any"

Again, this section is quite vague, other than its insistence that the policy be followed by "all employees." For example, all inquiries from the media must be referred to the university's public relations section? How about questions that pertain to a faculty member's area of expertise?

However, with the caveat that this document is simply a draft, I think the tone of the policy is the most troubling aspect of this particular section. I wonder how this policy squares with the first amendment to the constitution? As long as a particular faculty member does not claim to be articulating official university policy why the need for censorship? Or for a unified message? Given the recent admonitions from our incoming administration to avoid talking to the press, this seems like an attempt to muzzle dissent at a time when we should be engaging in vigorous debate.

Am I being an alarmist here? I would like to hear from others about their thoughts on this matter.