July 14, 2020

From Gerald R. Lucas

Significant Damage covid-19: day 126 | US: GA | info

20200714-covid-teachers.jpg

I’m getting more anxious and less assured by the leadership at MGA. As the fall semester looms, the administration has only asked faculty how we’re going to come back. Not once has anyone, from the president, to the provost, to the dean, to the chair asked me or any of my colleagues that I know of: what are your feelings about reopening the campus? In another article of a similar tenor as others I’ve already cited, NBC News is asking faculty what they think, and it’s predictably the same. Two Boston University professors sum up exactly what I’ve been thinking:

Detail of the famous photograph in which one man, believed to be August Landmesser, refuses to give the Nazi salute.

Yes, “significant damage to faculty trust.” Exactly. This is a moral question, for sure. By opening up the campus in the face of record outbreaks, they are putting the lives of students, staff, and faculty at significant risk. They know it’s not right, but those are the marching orders. That’s why they’re not talking to faculty: because they think they can’t do anything. When the order comes from the “governor” to the chancellor, what can a president of a university do? A provost? A lowly dean?

I say a lot. This reminds me of August Landmesser and the famous picture of him refusing to perform the Nazi salute. This man is lauded by most as a paragon of bravery and virtue, yet the lip-service is easy to pay. We all know what the right thing to do is, yet all of the admins have fallen in line with their Sieg Heil! I wish I was being hyperbolic, yet I keep waiting. The silence is deafening. Not even a town hall. Nothing. Just the order: you will teach face to face in the fall. Because, why? Money? The longer the silence the more “significant damage to faculty trust.”

What am I going to do? As a tenured professor, I probably have a bit more leeway to do what I want. Probably, the admins, while they cannot sanction any dissent, might not do anything punitive to those of us who keep our arms crossed. Landmesser paid the price for his non-conformity. I guess this is the fear.

The insanity grows every day. Meanwhile, I’m designing my courses to be delivered fully online.