Friday, March 29, 2013

An Update From Santa Fe Sid.

Since the blowup over the newspaper thing at my huge community college in New Mexico, the online discussion among faculty members has been white hot. All kinds of madness has taken place; conspiracy charges have been rampant. Each quarter has its own theory about what was "really" behind the closing down of the newspaper.

(I have to admit that my own guess is that featuring a 15 year old in the sex issue certainly sent someone into a panic.)

Anyway, the discussion online is of course quite public, as most of these have gone to some commonly used listserv addresses. Here are some of my favorite comments:

  • All of us should also understand that every comment made on this discussion board over the past few days is being scrutinized and compiled for later possible use as “evidence” against us—should the “opportunity” arise for any future disciplinary or termination actions, this “evidence” will be used to “validate” and “confirm” patterns of behavior like “defiance,” “incivility” or “lack of collegiality.” And for those of you who think I’m crazy, I and several other faculty members that I know of, unfortunately have first-hand experience with such “quality-based” management practices at CNM.
  • If a faculty member was responsible for such an egregious violation of rights and principles, he/she would be fired immediately.
  • The last episode of Saturday Night Live was far raunchier than the current edition of the CNM Chronicle and far less educational.
  • CNM has given me the direct message, “We don’t want to hear from you. We don’t want your truthful versions of events and we certainly don’t want you to express your opinion on any matter set forth by Administration. You are our subservient underlings and you should be grateful we allow you to work here or attend school here.”
  • One question I have for the CNM Administration now is if we're "allowed" to discuss this issue with our students? If so, what if a student brings a copy of the paper to class for "show and tell?" Are we obligated to confiscate it or should we call Security or [he police]? 
  • I guess we should all be anxiously awaiting guidance from The Party, so we don't violate The Party Line.
  • In March 2013, CNM administration discovers that 'its' students are having SEX.


  1. The 15-year-old does complicate things; somebody (quite possibly including the 15-year-old) exercised less-than-stellar judgment there. But if that's the problem (e.g. the administration is afraid that someone might classify the newspaper as "child porn," and act accordingly), they should just say so. Whatever one thinks of laws that lump together sexually-oriented pictures/other representations of pre- and post-pubescent minors, they exist, and the administration has to anticipate the possible consequences of violating them.

    The presence of the 15-year-old also raises an interesting question: as more and more minors show up on college (especially CC) campuses, who adjusts for whom? I'd argue that college is an adult environment, and that the student needs to be ready to function in such an environment (and the students' parents need to be willing for hir to do so). But, as the age at which most people are willing to consider young people full adults gets later and later (for pretty much everything but military service), I'm sure many will disagree.

    1. And I now see from your update that the administration did exactly what I suggest in my first paragraph. It sounds like their major mistake was not taking into account the speed at which information moves these days (and maybe the suspension of publication of the newspaper; I get confiscating the copies of the particular issue with the 15-year-old, but not that part). Somebody (after consultation with the school lawyer, and before actually beginning to collect the newspapers) should have provided at least a few-sentence explanation to the newspaper staffers (and probably the college at large) that they were collecting the newspapers for safekeeping until they had figured out the legal ramifications.