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Issues, events, & breaking news from ICES & Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
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There have been questions about what we mean by “mismanagement” at the University of British Columbia? What is meant by claims that at key moments in the past two years, there was evident mismanagement by the Board of Governors? Some faculty members juxtaposed the BoG’s failures against the University Act and best practices or Nolan Principles.
What do we mean by suggesting that UBC’s Committee of Deans establishes a bad model for the campus (i.e., mismanagement, e.g., no agendas, minutes, etc.)? What is meant by mismanagement by omission of a policy to regulate the appointment of Associate Deans?
Or, what is meant by charges that specific programs, such as UBC’s Master of Educational Technology program, a proverbial digital diploma mill, are mismanaged? What is meant by the mismanagement of a Career Advancement Plan?
So here’s a clarification and why good management matters:
Workers tend to have a keen sense of mismanagement when they experience it and academic workers are no different. Academics have a keen sense of academic mismanagement when they see it.
The sense used here is not the common legal definition of gross mismanagement, e.g., “a continuous pattern of managerial abuses, wrongful or arbitrary and capricious actions…” Nor is it used in the sense of financial mismanagement (e.g., p. 274).
Rather, mismanagement in most UBC cases refers to simply a failure to adhere to best practices (of accountability, equity, governance, hiring, etc.). The concern is with omissions. Of course, omissions may be intentional and this does not preclude arbitrariness, deception, or a destitution of integrity, etc.
In Dignity at Work, the key text on the topic, Hodson (2004) articulates in detail the short and long-term effects of mismanagement. The basic thesis is this: “Working with dignity is a fundamental part of achieving a life well-lived, yet the workplace often poses challenging obstacles because of mismanagement or managerial abuse” (frontispiece).
In the first paragraph then, Hodson prefaces: “Even where abuse is commonplace and chaos and mismanagement make pride in accomplishment difficult, workers still find ways to create meaning in work and to work with dignity” (p. 3). We see this in the most exploited workers at UBC: Sessional Lecturers.
“The first hurdle in the quest for dignity at work, Hodson says, “is thus the possibility of mismanagement and abuse” (p. 83). Indeed, “mismanagement and abuse have a central role in generating resistance and undermining citizenship in the workplace.” And he emphasizes, the buck stops at the top:
Chaotic and mismanaged workplaces undercut workers’ pride and erect barriers to quality work. The consequences of poorly organized workplaces can also spill over to coworker relations, further undermining organizational effectiveness. (p. 109)
Hodson concludes: “significant denials of dignity remain in the workplace. Chief among these are mismanagement and abuse” (p. 273).
Helps explain the state of working conditions in various programs and units at UBC, doesn’t it?
Dear UBC diary,
Year 100: Does anyone at the University of British Columbia remember last year, when on the day of the institution’s 100th birthday party Arvind resigned? If memory serves me right, Martha waltzed in, blew out the candles, and made the wish. Does anyone recall this happening? Like a dream, there are some vague memories of documents and decisions being hidden from access and scrutiny. Speculation. Secret meetings and the like…
I vaguely remember a resignation of the Chair of the Board of Governors and an academic freedom complaint. I kind of remember a Freedom of Information bungle in UBC’s Office of the University Counsel. My memory is incomplete but I sense that I signed a few petitions, went to meetings, protests, and rallies, and voted No Confidence in the BoG. Who doesn’t remember the Deans being made to reappear? And the pablum in the sun? That was a good Houdini trick! There are traces of the Faculty Association sabre-rattling with a few PDFs.
Anybody remember any of this at UBC?
I think I remember some brouhaha over an Advisory Committee for the appointment of a new President and a resignation from said Committee. I remember hearing that President Gupta phoned the Committee but was left on hold! I don’t remember candidates meeting with faculty, staff, and students. Was busy and may have missed that part.
The UBC year at glance confirms that we were dreaming! Nothing that we vaguely remember happening in year 100 actually happened! None of those memories made it onto UBC’s 2015-2016 highlight reel or appear in Dave’s yearbook!
Alas, we were finally ordered to “cease using the UBC 100 logo and revert back” to, well, you know, this was like an order to cease thinking about last year and revert back to, well, you know…
Summer and fall 2016 at UBC, back to business as usual… restoration… so calming, like an aromatherapeutic misty spritz on the wrist…
Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, Vancouver Observer, October 7, 2016– Vancouver, the city of disparities, is faced with polar opposites in its educational system.
The contrast between K-12 schools and the university in Vancouver could not be more stark: The schools sinking in debt with rapidly declining enrolments and empty seats versus the university swimming in cash and bloating quotas to force excessive enrolments beyond capacity.
With central offices just 7km or 12 minutes apart, the two operate as if in different hemispheres or eras: the schools laying off teachers and planning to close buildings versus the university given a quota for preparing about 650 teachers for a glutted market with few to no jobs on the remote horizon in the largest city of the province.
There is a gateway from grade 12 in high school to grade 13 in the university but from a finance perspective there appears an unbreachable wall between village and castle.
The schools are begging for funds from the Liberals, who, after saying no to K-12, turn around to say yes to grades 13-24 and pour money into the University of British Columbia, no questions asked.
There may be two ministries in government, Education and Advanced Education; there is but one tax-funded bank account.
Read More: Vancouver Observer
New issue of Workplace: Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor #highered #criticaled #criticaleducation
Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor
Special Issue of Workplace
Special Issue of Workplace
Karen Lynn Gregory & Joss Winn
Articles in Workplace have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory in the contemporary university… we suggest that there is one response to the transformation of the university that has yet to be adequately explored: A thoroughgoing and reflexive critique of academic labor.
Table of Contents
- Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor
Karen Lynn Gregory, Joss Winn
- Towards an Orthodox Marxian Reading of Subsumption(s) of Academic Labour under Capital
- Re-engineering Higher Education: The Subsumption of Academic Labour and the Exploitation of Anxiety
Richard Hall, Kate Bowles
- Taxi Professors: Academic Labour in Chile, a Critical-Practical Response to the Politics of Worker Identity
Elisabeth Simbürger, Mike Neary
- Marxism and Open Access in the Humanities: Turning Academic Labor against Itself
- Labour in the Academic Borderlands: Unveiling the Tyranny of Neoliberal Policies
Antonia Darder, Tom G. Griffiths
- Jobless Higher Ed: Revisited, An Interview with Stanley Aronowitz
Stanley Aronowitz, Karen Lynn Gregory
Eve Seguin: Academic mobbing, or how to become campus tormentors #ubcnews #caut_acppu #ubceduc #highered
To discipline and punish a colleague via academic mobbing, professionals— yes, professionals, including managers— conspire and solicit. This is one insight gathered from Eve Seguin’s astute and timely analysis of the pervasive phenomenon.
For Professor Caroline Patsias at Université du Québec à Montréal, once a professor at Université de Sherbrooke.
If you’re a university professor, chances are fairly good that you have initiated or participated in mobbing. Why? First, because mobbers are not sadists or sociopaths, but ordinary people; second, because universities are a type of organization that encourages mobbing; and third, as a result, mobbing is endemic at universities.
Unlike bullying, an individual form of harassment in which a typical scenario consists of a boss victimizing an assistant, mobbing is a serious organizational deficiency. Its many consequences are so severe that it is considered a major public health issue. The term itself, mobbing, describes its four essential characteristics: it is a collective, violent and deliberate process in which the individual psychologies of the aggressors and their victim provide no keys to understanding the phenomenon.
Workplace mobbing is a concerted process to get rid of an employee, who is better referred to as a “target” than a “victim” to emphasize the strategic nature of the process. The dynamic is reminiscent of Stalin’s Moscow Trials: the targets are first convicted and evidence is later fabricated to justify the conviction. As sociologist of science Brian Martin put it, everything they say, are, write and do will be systematically used against them.
Successful mobbing leads to any of a number of outcomes: the targets commit suicide, are dismissed (or often at universities, being denied tenure), resign, retire early, take permanent or recurring sick leave (the last three being the most common cases for university professors), or have all their responsibilities withdrawn (as in the case of sidelined senior public servants).
The process begins when a small group of instigators decides to cast someone out on the pretext that he or she is threatening their interests. This concept covers a variety of cases; perhaps the target is not behaving the way they would like, does not share their view of the organization, earns more than they do or challenges questionable practices. Mobbers use negative communication as their powerful weapon of elimination.
At first unbeknownst to the target, negative communication consists of rumours, complaints (often anonymous), conniving looks, mocking, gossip, misrepresenting facts, insinuations, hearsay, defamation, lies, secret meetings to discuss “the case,” disparaging comments, police-like surveillance of the target’s work and private life to gather “evidence” that justifies the aggression, and so on.
The other side of negative communication is directed at the target and includes unjustified accusations, manipulating or withholding information, sending menacing or hateful messages, calling purportedly friendly or disciplinary meetings, psychologically destabilizing the targets by incessantly accusing them of making mistakes, intimidation, tampering with their workstation, offering to “help” with so-called adaptation problems, and public humiliation.