It is time for a hypocrisy check at a certain southwestern university. In a most strange series of seemingly unrelated events the institutional schizophrenia displayed within this university is truly baffling.
A professor is summoned to the VPAA’s office because “colleagues” overheard vigorous swearing coming from inside the professor’s office. The professor was alone, so the alleged litany of profanity was not directed at anyone reporting the offense. The reporters remain anonymous and the professor is directed not to swear in the workplace. The VPAA refused to disclose the names of the supposed complainants.
A staff member is summoned to the Human Resources office because “students” complained about her use of profanity. The profane usage in question was the word shit. The reporters remain anonymous and the staff member is given a warning. Human resources personnel refused to disclose the names of the supposed complainants.
A professor, known to dislike her dean, is summoned to the VPAA’s office because “colleagues” expressed concern about her mention of guns and said they think she is a threat. The professor denies the allegation but does confirm that guns have been mentioned twice during the school year – once in a discussion with colleagues following the Alabama shooting and once when there was a safety meeting where professors were directed to barricade in their classrooms should there be a shooter during classes. The professor in question pointed out that the doors to the classrooms in her building all opened out and provided no means to lock them from the inside. She quipped, “Maybe we should all pack.” A moderately intelligent person would recognize the statement as a joke – a dark joke, perhaps in poor taste, but certainly not threatening. Despite this becoming a virulent rumor on campus, the reporters remain anonymous and the professor remains suspect. The VPAA refuses to disclose the names of the supposed complainants.
The University instituted a stricter smoking policy and now smokers must smoke in designated areas. These designated areas amount to an ashtray in the middle of a lawn. None of the designated areas provide shelter from the elements and the penalty for smoking elsewhere includes being fired. The campus community is encouraged to report transgressions with the assurance of anonymity.
The one thing that professors and staff can do with impunity on this campus is bed their students. In fact it appears that the activity is blessed by said VPAA, who was witnessed at a party chumming with the 40+ professor, his 20+ girlfriend/student/live-in lover, and the dean mentioned earlier. A new policy was recently enacted that will likely dismiss professors who engage in choosing their next partner from among their students. This is the second case in the past two years of 40+ male professors bedding their students and the university apparently grandfathering them from penalty.
I see a pattern emerging that allows people to be accused of both petty and large infractions with their accusers enjoying immunity from ownership of their accusations. This certainly creates an atmosphere of distrust and tension. It also creates an opportunity for false accusations to thrive and perhaps serve a hidden agenda. It is a pretty subtle way to harass select employees. On the other hand if one is a drinking buddy of officeholders with a little power, it appears that the usual rules of decorum and ethics are ignored. These good, God-fearing men have an ol’ boy network par excellence.