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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Say It Together: Om-buds-man

This weeks article has a somewhat personal tone to it. This week I had the pleasure of working with Chancellor Gora and President Panciotti in an effort to establish the position of a Student Ombudsman.

Let me first say that the Chancellor clearly plans on supporting student initiatives, being responsive to student input and recognizing the significant contribution our student body can make. Those attitudes and actions are all I have seen from the Chancellor in my dealings with her and I hope that the students and the faculty will appreciate the significance of my publicly saying so, as I am not one who is known to advocate the perpetuation of futile nor mediocre situations or professionals.

In fact, I expect more than the mere fulfillment of a position and its duties to be praiseworthy. My teachers don’t praise C level work, the students expect more than just “doing the job”, I expect more of myself than the minimum required and so I expect it of other people. Public admonishing of respect and character are not easily had by yours truly.

But over the course of the week the proposal also was discussed with other members of the administration, who shall remain nameless as to avoid further political fallout and disruption. The meeting was short in length and high in energy. Tones were raised, words were thrown and tempers flared.

After the meeting, I have had members of the student body explain that all that this type of meeting does is fuel the fire of dissention. And so, I comment. Let it be said I am arguing on behalf of diplomacy, but I will not ignore the need for someone, somewhere to be upset. Perhaps those who stand around getting paid to be diplomatic can sit back, him and haw, bob and weave, insinuate, imply and smile and nod. But we have a situation on our hands where the degrees we are receiving are of a compromised value, both in the local marketplace

and in the application to post graduate schools. We have complaints abound about several areas of the university, teachers are being cut back, programs are dwindling, the library can’t afford subscriptions or books (might as well make it the new dorms at this point of utility), and I am supposed to smile and nod while eyes are rolled in disrespect, ultimatums are delivered out of condescension and professional courtesies ignored.

Well let me make myself clear, in designing the position of Student Ombudsman I had clearly hoped I would be the first honored student to covet the position in service of the university. Many students have written to the administration in support of my proposal and contribution. But if what student “leaders” and administrators want is another smiling, lying politician who is going to worry about the feelings of the other professionals over the needs, wants and desires of the students as well as the basic competitive performance of our university and the competency of the professionals that run it, than I am not your man. This country, our economy and this society were founded on complacency and smiles.

Personalities clashed in heated debates that brought out the finer points of the arguments involved. Debate and dissention are the foundations of logical impericism and modern thought. Anyone in policy should read On Liberty, by J.S. Mill I know that the man is a little last century but he had some great points. Given the response at hand I think more people need to become acquainted with his writings.

When someone smiles at me I shall do unto her/him as they are doing unto me. But never shall I rest my heart nor mouth in the face of suppression, disrespect and unprofessionalism. Let me rephrase and reiterate: People don’t come to work to be friends. Someone who is hired to become a computer design tech does not need to have the personality of a salesman, he is not paid to be so. The idea that work is a social event is a farce and ultimately leads to nothing getting accomplished.

My stepfather always said to me, “If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.” How true and wise. I see not the road that calls for friendship and social grace above performance and competence. In fact I think the reason that I should be Ombudsman is because I will stand tall in the face of pressure and speak my heart. We do not need another person who is going to sit back and smile, and be friends with everyone at work. In fact we have too many friends and not enough sheriffs.

Save the chit-chat and social talk for the bar, this is work, this is a university, a failing university. I really don’t see what there is to be smiling about, but maybe that’s because I’m a student and not paid to be incompetent.