The Strike of 2006: Fallon writes back

I only have a moment to post this now, so I’ll have to kind of let this speak for itself: I sent a copy of the letter I sent to the VP of Academic Affairs to President Fallon the other day, and I received a response from him today. Let me preface my inclusion of that letter here by saying that Fallon is obviously a public figure at the heart of this whole mess, he didn’t suggest this was confidential correspondence, and email sent to me becomes mine, ultimately. Be assured though that I don’t normally post these sorts of things without permission.

Anyway, here’s what he wrote:

Thanks Steve. I appreciate your communication. And I apologize for not responding sooner. I attempt to respond to every single email I receive as soon as possible with a clear and abiding priority on student and faculty email. On this day, I find myself with a fairly significant backlog of correspondence that will take weeks, perhaps even months, to address. Nonetheless, I intend to do this…somehow. This, in a way not unlike how I approach other aspects of my personal life, is rooted in my commitment to principle, respect, integrity, altruism and basic human courtesy.
Much of the email I get includes thoughtful reflections and questions. These, in particular, require more than casual responses. Some, of course, are for a different purpose…less honorable and difficult to respond to.
Again, thanks. All the best.

John Fallon

Here’s what I wrote back:

President Fallon–

Thanks for your reply. I appreciate the fact that you feel that responding to all of the correspondence is demonstrable evidence that you do indeed “care.” But to be honest, I don’t think you have time to answer email right now.

If you really feel strongly about respect, integrity, and human courtesy, and assuming you think that faculty are humans who deserve these things, please return to the table. I’m one of literally thousands of people caught in the middle here, and you are one of a handful of people who actually could do something about this. So please, let me appeal to your humanity, and please return to the bargaining table.

Thanks,

–Steve

Steven D. Krause
Associate Professor
Writing Program Coordinator/Interim Director of First Year Writing
Department of English Language and Literature
Eastern Michigan University | Ypsilanti, MI 48197
734-487-1363 | http://www.stevendkrause.com

Besides the fact that his response was kind of generic, it seems kind of a problem to me that his idea of treating people “humanely” is to simply respond to email. Deep deep sigh….

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6 Responses to The Strike of 2006: Fallon writes back

  1. cheryl says:

    Yikes, he said nothing. Perhaps he’s a replicant (Blade Runner). Is the media going to be at the picketing/demonstration tomorrow? I’m sorry you won’t be there but I plan to take a camera and will shoot some pics.
    Again, your blog has been a life line to the strike events as they unfold. Keep up the good work!

  2. Leshlush says:

    I doubt he even read you e-mail. It sounds like a general response that he sends to everyone.

  3. Bud Gibson says:

    I have to say reading your blog has given me some insight into the reaction of plain old faculty (not union organizers) to all of this. Frankly, I’ve found it a little hard to walk into this situation and suddenly be told that not only was I on strike (but not really as a new faculty), but also that I should be out on the picket line.

    I appreciated your post earlier in the day about how you liked working at EMU, but to be honest, there seems to be a lot of acrimony. I came here with a lot of hope. I’ve decided to reserve final judgment on the place.

  4. Charles Stuart says:

    Bud,

    There is a lot of acrimony, and apparently not just between the faculty and the administration. After a student rally on Wednesday, Jim Vick (V.P. of student affairs) invited 12 of us into a conference room to talk about our feelings about the strike and to answer any questions we might have. During the meeting, he mentioned that the rate of donations made to EMU by alumni is extremely low when compared to other schools. I found this unsurprising, as I cannot imagine giving money to EMU after I graduate. Here’s why:

    I’ve enjoyed my time at EMU immensely. There are some great things about the place. I’ll sum them up: 1) A lot of the faculty, and 2) A lot of the students. I’ve had many classes in which I’ve learned a great deal, and several that have dramatically changed the way I think about the world. My fellow students have for the most part been bright and interested. My professors have almost all been extremely dedicated — not only to teaching in the classroom, but to helping students in any way they can outside of class. When I’ve had complicated questions, professors have sat and talked with me for hours outside of class, helping me understand difficult ideas, or helping me develop my own ideas for papers/research. Most have gone far beyond just being available for office hours. And it seems to me that most of my professors have really enjoyed working at EMU, because of their relationships with their students and fellow faculty.

    But I’ll never give money to the school because during the time I’ve been here, the administration has been incompetent and irresponsible. They’ve mismanaged the school’s money and repeatedly made decisions that I think are damaging to the school’s future. Also, their attitude towards faculty — the people who actually make this place worthwhile — has been pisspoor. I’ve been taking classes here on and off for 6 years, and I think this is the third time I’ve seen negotiations break down.

    So what can I say? Do indeed reserve final judgement. Just because the administration building is full of schmucks doesn’t mean you won’t like working here. There are some great things about the place. During normal times, it’s really nice, as long as you ignore whatever stupidity the administration is engaged in at the moment. Good luck, and sorry you had to come at such a bad time.

    –Charles

  5. Kitchkitten says:

    Hello New Faculty Person! Very many warm welcomes to EMU!

    What Steve says about the wonderful students and colleagues here at Eastern is absolutely true! Please don’t be dismayed during this trying time about our university and your position within it. The administration may call themselves “EMU,� but they are far from representing all of us and, on the whole, this is an excellent environment in which to teach, to conduct research, and to collaborate with others.

    I wrote to Steve privately earlier, but I thought that I should say it publicly to you as well. I remember all of the horror stories that I heard about this-or-that, scary, nebulous university when I was on the job market, and how often I feared that I may spend a lifetime in such-and-such unknown & potentially frightening place, but however bad things are here at this particular moment, they will not at all match up to such alarming urban myths as those which you may be contemplating given the current tensions. Keep up your hope, and let us confirm it; I bet that within a short time we will do so.

    I hope that the new faculty realize how important the union (and sadly, by default, the strike) is in this respect. The union is one of the mechanisms that enables us to have (and to maintain) the unusually positive and productive teaching and working conditions that we currently have. Once this situation is resolved (and hopefully that will be soon), you will see how much that will prove to be the case. I came to EMU just after a strike similar to this, and I have befitted a great deal from the better conditions that that contract eventually achieved.

    These include a sufficient number of new faculty like yourself to teach our students (or to do service and advising work), money to develop new online courses, as well as up-to-date technology that inspires our students and ourselves (or, at the very least, serves our minimum needs). If we could just get the horrendous classroom buildings attended to, this university will be as physically sound as it is in spirit and ethos.

    There is much more at stake here than salary and health care, and despite the seeming direness of the current moment, that which matters most will likely be attended to if the administration would only return to the negotiating table. And eventually they will have to do so if we pressure them in on picket lines and through the various petitions.

    By the by, the editorial in the Echo is dead-on correct about the strike being in the long-term interest of students (http://www.emu-aaup.org/node/201), and I would include the long-term interest of new faculty as well.

    Also see the new petition:

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/262740466

  6. Carol says:

    Bud,
    I understand why — this week — you would be sorry to have come to EMU, but it really is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful place to work. NOT because of the administration, which has changed so many times I have lost count, but because of the faculty, the staff and, most of all, the students.
    Not to diss THE U of M, but I have had visiting students from there who have told me they see profound differences between the two schools– with EMU winning hands-down. One spring I had two senior U of M students in a lab and discovered them laughing at me one morning. Why? Because they had never, ever had had a prof come in early to class everyday and ask how everyone was doing and chat with them. They told me they had never had a prof who cared whether they understood or not. They were amazed that I would stop and give sidebar explanations about what I was teaching!
    They also were amazed that the lab was 95 degrees and that when we needed a clock on the wall I brought one from home and hung it myself (I also replace the batteries when needed). I’ll bet your U of M professors don’t have to buy their own clocks, I told them.
    On the other side of things, I have found EMU students to be genuine, down-to-earth “real” people from “real” families. That’s why we are receiving so much support from students and their parents in this strike. They get it.
    Most of our students do not come from privilege and they value their opportunity to get an education. They also value professors who care about them, which is why they think of us, not faceless administrators, when they speak of “EMU.”
    The administration has made numerous huge mistakes in recent years — the University House being the most noticeable. When there was an outcry about that and other things, they decided to blame the faculty. The university also has had terrible public relations in recent years, which officials resorting to half-truths (or worse). Did you see that article on Patrick Doyle in the Ann Arbor News last month? The truth always finds a way out.
    I hope we will all be back in the classroom this week (with an agreement!) and that you will have time to come to know the Eastern that I care about — the students.

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