Violence as an Agent of Change

“When War Broke out in Heaven…”

Violence is Local

Terror and violence permeates our lives these days.  It is on the news, in games, in television shows and movies, on the streets and in our living rooms.  Every nine seconds a woman is physically abused or beaten by an intimate partner.  Seventy-two percent of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner. Ninety four percent of the victims are females. (NCADV)  There have been almost 300 mass killings in the United States this year.  (Washington Post) And violence is more than just murder, it undergirds poverty and hopelessness.

Origins of Violence

For many years I wrote about violence and its origins.  Why are human beings so violent?  Some religious groups would point to “original sin” or a genetic defect.  Others would point to the influence of family and the immediate culture.  Others would point to the reality of defense and protecting yourself.   Some would argue that violence is a way to bring about change.

 

 

 

Islam


We are all faced with the fear of ISIS.  Their targets are random.  Their aim is to conquer the world for their God, Allah.  On “Here and Now” on a PBS radio station I heard a young woman argue that ISIS has hijacked their peaceful religion.  ISIS is not Muslim.  If we look back to history, we could argue that her point of view is in error.

Islam began in violence.  Muhammad suffered so much abuse that he had to leave his beloved home in Makkah for Medina where he was protected by a Jewish community.  He led raids against his enemies and shed blood in the name of his God.  Some claim that there are over one hundred verses in the Quran where adherents are told to kill.  Here is an example of one:

Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing…
but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone.

From the eighth century through the middle ages, Islam conquered  most of the Mediterranean world all the way to Spain. The wars went on for hundreds of years.

Judeo-Christian Traditions

In the name of God Christian missionaries conquered most of North and South America.  They believed that God had given them the land, even though indigenous peoples had owned and lived on the land for thousands of years.  They believed that they were going to “save” the inhabitants but they left behind blood and death. In countries like Uruguay, the indigenous population was totally wiped out!

Christianity also has a history of conquering its foes through violence from the time of Constantine through the Inquisition or witch trials of the late Middle Ages.  The Judeo-Christian Bible is filled with violence and violent stories.  How could Jephthah kill his own daughter?  Why would anyone want to cut up a concubine and send her parts to all the tribes of Israel? Why is the sacrifice/murdering of a beloved son at the heart of the gospels?

I have written many articles on the violent language found in the gospels of the New Testament.  In my research, I determined that Acts of the Apostles was a violent etiological legend that set the stage for violence as an agent of change.  Everywhere Paul went there was violence.  The founding of Christianity was filled with violence.

Revelation is among the most violent of books in the New Testament.

“The beast and the ten horns you saw
will hate the prositute. They will bring
her to ruin and leave her naked; they
will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
(17:16)

And, of course, according to the Book of Revelation, the earth will be destroyed to make way for a new heaven and earth.  And, of course, war broke out in heaven!

Islam and Christianity

This is a quick view of both of these religious traditions.  They both have peaceful people and peaceful texts in their documents.  But, within those traditions are peoples who believe that their TRUTH, their Divine (whether Allah or  Yahweh, Jesus (God))  is the only TRUTH and only way.  They believe that our current way of life must be destroyed in order to bring about a change that would be better for everyone,  and especially for them.

I always wonder about people who advocate violence as a way to change things for the better?  Were they beaten as a child?  Did they experience rape or violence in their homes? Were they homeless?  Were they tortured and kept in a closet for most of their lives? Did their parents kill one of their siblings or mother or father? Were they always told that their lives were worth nothing?  Were they so poor that they could not go to school or find a good meal every day?

A Thought

Religion can give direction, meaning, and hope to people.  And many of those people who are killing and killing themselves are dedicated to their religious beliefs, but they are caught up in a “ghost dance” and an illusion.  That illusion has been embraced by millions throughout history, even in our own Salem.

Since our culture is so permeated with violence, have we become a breeding ground for ….

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Cause of Violence, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Killing a Professor, Terrorists and their Religions, Uncategorized, Violence and Religion | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Undergraduate Despair and Hopelessness

Cartoon Captures a Snapshot about the Failings of Higher Education

Chan Lowe created a portrait of Higher Education in the United States “The American Undergrad’s Prayer.”  (I am repeating the prayer here, just in case they pull the cartoon from this blog)

“O, Lord!  Please protect me from campus killing rampages so that I amy earn my worthless degree and drown in student debt forever and ever, AMEN.”
Cartoon by Chan Lowe published in the KC Star on 11/8/15

Cartoon by Chan Lowe published in the KC Star on 11/8/15

This creative soul has captured the tragic feelings of many lost undergraduates in our country.

Lowe Has a Narrow View of Higher Education

As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, I grew up just outside of the now war-torn Detroit, Michigan when the “Big Three” automakers were responsible for the economic growth and well-being of millions of people.  Almost everyone I knew worked for one of the Three or a factory that supplied parts and more to the Three.  One of my cousins designed automobiles, an uncle worked on designing and testing tires, and an uncle-friend built plants for GM.

I knew that General Motors had an institute where I could learn to be an engineer.  But I wanted more out of life than to work on a factory floor like my mother and father and many aunts and uncles.  I had been around the making of cars my whole life, but I wanted to see life outside of an engine magazine and a transmission on the floor of a garage.

I was privileged to come from a family of working poor and knew that I could survive on very little.  I did not go to college to study something that would guarantee a job.  I knew I could find a job to support myself at any plant around the corner.

And here is where I think Lowe makes a huge mistake.  Money is not everything in life.  There are a lot of other values that propel people to attend college.

I wanted a challenge and began studying languages with different scripts.  I wanted to travel.  I wanted to write.  I wanted to understand world politics and social issues. I wanted to help others to understand each other and the peoples on the planet.  I wanted to be involved in life in a different way.  And, even after retiring, I am studying music.  It is adding a wonderful dimension to my life.

Worthless Degree.  Life is more than a Job

No degree is worthless.  If you have studied well, you have learned how to read and write and communicate with the rest of the world.  These are basic skills that undergrads lack. Many of my students could not spell, write a good sentence, reason critically, and were extremely lazy and undisciplined.  They could not understand what was being offered to them, so they threw the time in college away.

I often worked three jobs in order to pay for my college.  Rarely could anyone borrow  money to go to college back in the 1960’s.  So you either had to get a grand scholarship, come from a well-to-do family, or work your way through school.  College students should be required to work when they attend college.  It would help them with time-management and, perhaps, with their negative view of the future.

Most everyone I knew thought that my degree was worthless.  I have a PhD in Hebrew and Greek.  But, I had a tremendous career with many different job opportunities, traveled the world, and created many, many books, lectured on cruise ships, gave academic papers at national conferences, and more.  You learn to turn your degree into many interesting pursuits.  How do you know that the skill you are learning is going to be relevant when you graduate.  Liberal Arts skills are always relevant and will help you to re-create your future.

If you want to go to college just to get a “job” then don’t go to college.  Find a nice program somewhere that gives you the skills you need to get into the job market.

I finished a Certificate in Web Design and learned how to create Websites recently. It only took a couple of semesters, not four years, and I could be hired as a designer today at a good salary.  Study one programming language that is in vogue, and you will be given offers by several companies.  But you will have missed what I think is the the heart of education, which is the Liberal Arts that connects with history, people, poetry, great literature, art, music, theatre, religious studies, and more.

Violence on Campus

At my previous university only one student and one professor were murdered during my tenure.  This does not compare with what has happened on other campuses, but both of those killings should have never happened.

I stopped teaching in the classroom about 8-10 years before I retired and developed classes online.  They protected me from abusive, manipulative, and violent students.  It did not stop them from emailing and calling me a “motherfu…”

I had one student place a gun on my desk demanding a better grade.  I had five Middle Eastern students attempt to bribe me for a better grade.  Several offered me free sex.  One student stood outside my office swearing and walking back and forth threatening me.  Another female clenched her fist in my face after she received a grade she did not like.  There is so much more that I could list here.

And students are allowed to act out such behavior because university bureaucrats don’t want to lose one student.  That would hurt their student-credit-hours and cash that they would lose to fund their own private parties and trips.  Students know they are “used” and they resent every minute of it.

Students are Lost

Students don’t know what they want today.  They can’t see their own future and this is the despair that is reflected in the cartoon.  They are so wrapped up in their phones, their games, their sport’s teams and parties,  that they don’t have time to think about the importance of those wonderful classes in which they are enrolled.

And the top officials of universities are in the same bucket.  They are wrapped up in their own careers, and salaries, and influence,  to the detriment of our students.

 They are also lost,  and so they lead the students into a bitter darkness reflected in this cartoon.


 

Personal Note:

I may write another blog on this cartoon that addresses even more of the cancer that I have experienced on campuses.

My apologies for being away from the desk since August.  I have had five surgeries and been floating around Colorado for three weeks.  Several people have asked me to begin writing again. This was a good day, because it is my last surgery, and there was time.

Talk to you soon.  As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

Posted in Disillusionment in Higher Education, Education not War, Higher Education, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Killing a Professor, Misogynism, Misogynism in Higher Education, Stress and Professors, Students at risk, Terrorists on Campus, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

New Book “Politics of Feminisms” is Now Published

Politics of Feminisms

Is There More than ONE Feminism? 

I am happy to share the good news with you that I have published a new book, Politics of Feminisms.  For most of my career I published in many fields of feminist interpretation.  Some of those articles were lingering on my desk for years.  Time slips away.  This book represents two years of research on feminist biblical interpretation, misogyny in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Secrets of Women, and feminist politics in a modern classroom.

Below are a couple of excerpts.  I wanted to entitle this book, “Misogyny for a Hundred Thousand Years,” but I thought that would be stretching it a bit.

Long ago, in the mid-twentieth century, when I was only seventeen, I began to study the Hebrew/Old Testament and New Testament while in college. I had this unshakeable faith that a Divine Being would never create inequality among human beings. There were passages in the Bible that confirmed my belief. People were created equal in Genesis one, and stood side by side in the formative years of the early church. Surely, after reading the Genesis passage and many stories in the New Testament, people would agree that females and males should be treated equally in society.

            I was naive. Having been raised in a family with a strong mother who stood beside her husband as an equal, I could not even fathom that females should be treated differently just because their biology differed with males. I soon learned that females and males were treated differently in society.

A second excerpt:

The Bible is a historic collection of thoughts that has shaped countries and peoples for millennia. Communities have centered their faith activities in the Bible, brought unlikely people together, and serviced many needy people in spite of its misogyny, advocacy of male supremacy, and war-like tendencies. Communities like this provide havens and extended families for people. For some, to give up the study and research of the Bible may result in losing those friends or a haven. The flight of some Protestants away from feminist biblical traditions is understandable because they believe it essentially erodes their belief-system about order in society and community life. They cannot risk the loss even if it means redeeming oppressed females and others who constitute more than half of their congregations.

            Feminists also desire control of the interpretation of the text to disseminate their truth, because it often legitimates an alternate power structure and serves to control myth. And, yes, they want more power in their lives and more control over the people who oppress, marginalize, and exploit them. But perhaps they could also open their research and hearts to others who also suffer in much the same way.

 

A third excerpt:

While we may be publishing new ideas about how we should interpret the Bible differently, or discovering people in the past who have shared the same dream, or how culture should change, or how political power should be shared, on a very basic level the average person does not understand shared power, and many have an unimpeachable belief in male supremacy that systematically excludes those who would challenge it.

            Significant positive change may have come to some religious communities for women, but not to society as a whole in my view. Naomi Goldenberg threatened that feminism would be the end of traditional religions when the male God would be eliminated in her book The Changing of the Gods in 1979. “God is going to change…. We women are going to bring and end to God…. We will change the world so much that He won’t fit in anymore.”x[i]x Naomi Goldenberg’s prophecies failed to materialize. Little has changed.   Perhaps her prophecies will come true … someday.

xlx Naomi Goldenberg, The Changing of the Gods. Feminism  and the End of Traditional Religions Boston: Beacon   Press, 1979 p. 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Apple Stores are a Lunatic Experience!

Apple is in the Tank!

I have been an avid user and fan of Macs since around 1983. Even when my university attempted to bribe me with a new PC, I did not falter, I kept my MAC.  And I have always appreciated the support and quality of machines that I have purchased.

The Problem

Recently Apple emailed with a recall of a Western Digital hard drive. Dutifully and trustingly, I brought my iMAC to the Apple Store in Leawood, Missouri. The hard drive was replaced in about two days. I was happy with the time frame. But I was not happy with the result. The iMAC would not start. I tried everything I knew to get the thing going. Called an Apple Genius? and he could not get it up and running.

When I returned to the store, the Apple Geniuses were flabbergasted. This does not happen. They did not believe me. They did not apologize. But after several attempts at jump-starting the machine. They decided that it needed to be fixed. My patience was gone!

I asked for a new iMAC since they trashed my old one. In unison they sang. “That could be considered.” But no one would make the decision. I think they were reading the lines from their iPads. A few days later, I brought the machine home. Oral tradition has it that a cable and the screen were broken. Huh? Did someone drop it? I asked for a new machine again and no one would respond. Applecare should have covered it, I think they wanted me to suffer a bit more before they gave me a new machine. When I arrived home my Magic Mouse would not work with the machine. What next?

I told them that crashing my computer was like someone taking your car and crashing it. You wouldn’t want the old car back, you would want a replacement. The Apple ears did not hear me.

The Environment

Have you been to an Apple Store lately. There are hoards of worker drones in jeans and dark blue t-shirts that look like they need some advice on grooming. Most of them kept their heads buried in their iPads and never looked at you. I think they take a pic of you when you enter the store, and your pic shows up next to your appointment time? Huh? All I got from these drones was, “Sit here?” or “Wait here!” I said that I was perfectly happy where I was but I was told that I was in the way.

(On the plus side, as soon as I entered the store someone talked to me, even though the place looked like it was in total chaos.) It is difficult to hear above the roar of the people clicking, swiping, and complaining. My iMAC is pretty big and they told me to look around the store, but then said that I should keep my hands on the computer because I could lose it.

Fun Stuff


There were as many as fifteen people in a line at once asking for help.  Some problems were handled immediately, like a phone that was in pieces, and other people, like me were sidelined for more than a half hour. I saw a two year old playing and talking on an iPhone.  A six year old had dropped his iPhone and it was no longer linked to his new Apple watch. How much did that watch cost? People lost their passwords or locked up their machines or could not use the software. I was watching someone trying to teach a class on how to create a video. He was shouting and no one could hear him.

What a lunatic experience!

Apple is no longer on my “A” List

I wish there was a better machine (I have four of them) for me, I would buy it and leave Apple in the dust. But the truth is that I have thirty years of data on disks and drives that are only formatted for the MAC. To change all of this to a new format would be an impossible task.

So I am stuck with the drones.

Wouldn’t it be great if the drones wore ironed polo shirts, and they actually looked at you. Buy better shirts for your employees, will ya? They look like they found those shirts in a second-hand shop! Burn them!

And maybe, if they didn’t pay some of their executives $89 million a year, they could do more for their customers.

 

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

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Obama Administration Caves into the Cries of Bureaucrats


“The U.S. Department of Education has retreated from its controversial plan to create a giant college-ratings system, top officials revealed on Wednesday. Instead, by late summer the department is now promising to produce a customizable, consumer-oriented website that won’t include any evaluations of colleges but will contain what one official described as “more data than ever before.” In effect, it will be a ratings system without any ratings.” (Chronicle of Higher Education)

The problem with public Higher Education today has little to do with affordability and more to do with greedy, power hungry, and misdirected bureaucrats. When did the ‘business model’ become the foundation of managing educational institutions?

At the last place where I taught, greedy professors and bureaucrats in fields of business, demanded and got higher salaries and perks than the rest of the university programs and professors. Did they publish more? Were they creative and innovative in their classes? Did they teach better? Did they counsel students better? Were they involved in the community? Of course, they were not and did not. Their argument was based upon market, and they argued that market should control their salaries. Too bad that the rest of us were left out of their selfish scheme!

I don’t know how to solve the problem of greed and selfishness at the top and through the bureaucratic ranks of public universities. The accepted standard or ethic is to exploit those around you.   At my former institution, the number of bureaucrats multiplied exponentially while the number of faculty went down.

Bureaucrats Use Hyper-and False-Advertising to Fund their War Chests 

The bureaucrats still  kept claiming that there was a 15 to 1 ratio in the classes at my former university.  All of our classes were open for 25 or more students and I taught classes of 125 for years.  Yes, there were smaller classes, but those were usually 4000 level classes that majors were required to take.  They also kept claiming that 90% of students obtained jobs almost immediately upon graduation.  What a lie this was!  I worked my way through college and so did many of our college students.  Most students have some type of job while going to college.  The bureaucrats led people to believe that their degrees were so sought after that students were hired immediately. I asked the bureaucrats if the jobs the students obtained were the ones they had while a student.  They stopped using this strategy for a while, and then came back to it.

Telling parents that their child will be assured a job is a bold-faced lie and also telling them that your professors will know your first name, is also untrue.  When you have 100-200 students to teach a semester, it is impossible to know each student by their first name.  You could wish that you could know each student, but it is an impossible task.

Bureaucrats use models on their websites to portray an attractive and beautiful student population.  What is the matter with using “real” photographs of “real” students?  They photoshop crowds together and create an illusion of happy, hard-working, and hard-playing students.  Where is the real campus? Isn’t this dishonest?

Bureaucrats Rarely Support Programs that Require Critical Thinking Skills

Their goal is to attract as many students to campus as possible, so that they can grab the cash that comes from the student-credit-hours produced by those students.  They scheme up unnecessary universal testing because the state rewards the university $100 per student for each test that is taken.  They are reductionistic and hope to combine programs so that the university has a more stream-lined appeal.  Why not reduce all of the majors to about ten?  That is much more marketable!!  In fact, they support programs that seem to lead to one type of “job” more than they support those departments that help students to understand the humanities and complexities of life.  Their goal is to get them in and get them out! They really don’t want them to learn to think, evaluate, read, write, and speak well in public!

Bureaucrats Exploit Everyone to Fulfill their Own Career Goals

When will the revenue that is raised through student-credit-hours come back to the faculty and departments that produce them?  This does not happen.  Like workhorses or mules, faculty become the means whereby bureaucrats achieve their own personal goals.  Those goals might be building projects, increasing athletics, building a new home for themselves, hiring their friends or relatives, the use of a jet, cooperative agreements with governments that enhance their personal power, and so much more.  The funds do not come back to departments for faculty raises or support of curricula.  Most faculty back-peddle hoping for a break, but that break never comes.

President Obama, Something Has to be Done!

The Bureaucrats are many and have loud voices.  They are powerful.  They know about power because it is at the center of their careers and goals.  They won’t let anyone take away that power.  Faculty could do it.  Faculty could step forward and challenge the bureaucrats.  As in any civil war, there would be casualties.  But Faculty do not want to risk their tenure or what little of their own status that they have obtained.  Faculty know that bureaucrats are destroying (have destroyed) higher education and they will do nothing about it.  It is time for an outside agency to investigate and punish greedy bureaucrats.

But who has enough power to do it?  Where are you Edward Snowden?

 

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Destroying or eliminating General Education classes is barbaric. The Visigoths are at the door!

General Education Classes are at the Heart of Higher Education

“The first act of the Islamic State was to kill the people with knowledge of Religion.” Zaid AlFares

For more than two decades at my last job at a state university, I had to fight tooth and nail to preserve the Religious Studies programs. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, politics on campus can be quite complicated and visceral. Our greatest opponents were professors and administrators in fields other than normally found in General Studies programs.  They argued that our university did not need General Education. Other universities have walked down this path, where they have attempted to become majors only institutions. From my point of view, destroying or eliminating General Education classes is barbaric.

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking helps to foster success in a person’s life!

I met a student who lives in Columbia the other night. He argued that General Education classes were a waste of time. Students should not be required to take classes they don’t like or don’t want to study. Universities should eliminate those worthless classes.  This point of view is both reductionistic and destructive.  The consequences of eliminating General Education classes would undermine our colleges and our country as a whole. And my reply to this student is that he should seek out a technical or for-profit school that does not include the classes he does not like in his program.

If you are a privileged human being who has grown up with lots of cash, traveled the world, and been tutored all of your life by high-end educators, then perhaps some of the General Education classes would seem to be a bit stifling. But many students in the state of Missouri, and especially at the institution where I taught, were first generation college students.

General Studies

General Studies enhances critical thinking skills and awareness of the world in which we live!

All students need to survey topics that they have never even considered studying in their lives. Those classes can open doors to possible careers and avocations. They lay a foundation that helps link students to all sorts of other people and careers. They can give “meaning” to a person’s life. You begin to understand the world around you, and interact with it in a more intelligent way after studying in a General Studies class.  What would life be like if we did not study history, art, theatre, literature, creative writing, sociology, psychology, communication, women’s studies, languages, music, and even religious studies? We would all become automatons or mechanical people without hearts or brains. And isn’t that the point, and the goal, of those who would eliminate General Studies?

Music

Music Adds to Our Lives

At the moment I am enrolled in a Music Appreciation class.  (Yes, I am retired.) It is true that I do not like all of the music we have studied, but on the other hand, I have discovered other music I love.  In Zumba classes I now can hear melodies in the Zumba tunes that were written hundreds of years ago.  The class has made me very aware of all of the music around me, and I can read and understand the newspapers and advertisements about music about which I knew nothing. This is all thanks to a General Education class.

Most humanities courses help students to learn how to be critical thinkers. They help students to learn how to express themselves clearly and to speak with passion and care. Many of the professors who did not teach General Education courses at my university, complained that they should not be held accountable for their student’s lack of good writing or critical-thinking skills. As long as they knew content in the discipline of a class, the other skills were not needed. This argument harms students.  They are not teaching in the best interests of students.  Their point of view is skewed and narrow.

Students may even need General Studies classes to determine what types of professors they want in their major area. I remember one of my students who had taken Greek from me, asking a question in one of her major classes, where the professor was misusing, misunderstanding, and mispronouncing Greek words. She questioned him and he did not like it.  And there were many other religious studies students who went on to challenge professors on campus who did not engage in critical thinking.

When you want to obtain control over a people, you eliminate the thinkers who have the knowledge to speak out, to be critical, to help others. We have seen this time and time again in Communist Countries, even yesterday with the murder of a high profile official in Russia. In Cambodia and Vietnam, thousands if not millions, of educated people were murdered because they had the knowledge.

Greek Symbol

This is a Greek symbol employed to protect Christians.

Knowledge is precious and can be life-saving. Education is more than getting a ticket to find a good job. Life is more than a paycheck.  Without General Education classes, and especially without religious studies classes, people cannot well assess their lives, their futures, their employers, and their own religious traditions. I can’t tell you how many times military people have come to me, and told me that they wished with all of their hearts that they had taken a World Religions class with me before they were deployed. Their lives would have been so much richer. They could have taken advantage of the opportunities that were presented to them in foreign ports of call. They would have understood the cultures and experiences better.

Shame on the student who carelessly complains about General Education classes. His mindset is similar to ISIS. Destroy the educated, so we can rule!

(The symbol refers to Yeisous (Jesus), Christos (the Christ), Theos (God), Huios (Son), and Soter or Soteria (Savior or Salvation). (The transliteration is mine.)  It was a code that allowed Christians to enter meetings during times of harassment by the government.  It saved their lives!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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I Met a Terrorist and I did not Believe Him!

Terrorism and Missouri and Kansas

Before fatwas, before 9/11, before the Danish cartoons, before the war in Syria; before terror in France, Australia, Belgium, before ISIS, I met a terrorist.  

Really, I am not kidding!

Dome of the Rock in Israel

Dome of the Rock in Israel

Early on in my career, at my last teaching position, a handsome man from the Middle East walked into my office one day.  He said that he had heard about my programs on Women in Islam, and wanted to borrow some of my books.  I had worked hard to bring different voices and different points of view about religions to campus, and this gentleman, who was attending KU in Lawrence, had heard about my work.

In programs on Islam we had addressed the touchy issue of the status of women in the Quran and in Islamic cultures.  We had discussed the veil and the phrases in the Quran that seem to justify beating your wife (wives) if they do not fulfill your needs as a male.  But at the same time we wondered about the Mothers of Believers who may have c0pied/written the words of Muhammad, and Khadijah, Muhammad’s first wife.  She hired him in her business, fell in love with him, and married him.  Was she twenty years his senior?  Anyway, these females were foundational to the beginnings of Islam, but somehow their stories and voices  seem to be less important than the stories of the males.

Covering in Islam

Covering in Islam

I talked with this man and would only loan him my books if he gave me his name and phone number.  He did.  I asked him what he did for a living and how he heard about me?

Apparently Muslims in Lawrence were talking about the points of view I was taking regarding females within Islam.

He told me that he was a student but his real job was to be a terrorist.  I laughed at him.  This made him angry.  I said there are no terrorists in Lawrence, and he said that I was wrong.  He told me that he was considered to be a “cell” and that he was just waiting to be activated.  I was so naive at that time.  He eventually returned the books to me, and I never heard from him again.

At that time, I kept a log of all phone calls because I had been harassed by people who did not like pluralism on campus.  After the shock of 9/11 I went back to my old log of phone calls and found his number.  I called him.  He answered.  I told him who I was, and asked him how he was doing.  He told me that his wife was dying of cancer.  And that was it! I never called the police.  I never called anyone or told anyone about this man.  I did not have evidence that he was a terrorist, only his word.

After I retired, I threw away all of my logs and all of the numbers in them.  And only yesterday, I began wondering, whatever happened to this man?

The Quran

The Quran

 

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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How to Kill a Professor!

A Friend of Mine Passed Away the Other Day

Harassment can Kill!

Harassment can Kill!

Darlene (not her real name) was from Malaysia.  She had made her way to Australia where she worked to obtain her Ph.D. in Computer Information Systems.  When she passed, she was supporting her husband who was ill, and her son in Medical School.  She was a valiant and strong lady who did not deserve to die at 56.  Let me tell you her story!

Darlene was gorgeous.  She had dark perfect skin, the biggest eyes, curly hair, nice and thin, and wore Fifth Avenue suits to class.  She was dedicated, engaging, innovative, and competent in everything she did on campus.

From the time she landed a job at the university, she was harassed.  In the beginning it was only words from her chair or colleagues like, “How can a colored girl make as much money as I do.”  “Or, how come a foreigner can come here and take away jobs from us?” The boys did not like her because she was beautiful and competent.  They could not have her, nor did they like it that her light was brighter than theirs.  And she was the wrong color.  The girls saw her as competition and would not advise her or help her in any way.  She was on her own!

I think the bureaucrats got together and decided they did not want her on campus.  Her chair changed the numbers on her student evaluations so it would look like she was not doing a good job.  She was assigned overloads to keep her busy, and given mindless tasks like writing General Ed Proposals.  Her chair allowed students to bring up charges against her that went to Human Resources.  She was grading international students fairly but they wanted their grades changed.  The bureaucrats forced her to change the grades.  They did not want to lose the very high tuition the international students paid.  It was a daily battle for her.  How does one keep integrity in classes while trying to please the bureaucrats and lazy students?

Around her fourth year at the institution, it was time for her to apply for tenure.  Her college passed her but her application stopped at the Provost’s office.  He accused her of misappropriation of a huge grant she had received.  The charges were bogus.  She had to argue her case for weeks.  Finally, she appealed to the sensible President and received tenure.  The Provost lost.

In about her seventh year at the institution, she was came up for promotion to Full Professor.  This is when I came to know Darlene.  We worked together on a program where we brought speakers to campus.  We became friends.  In the process, she began pleading with me to help her with her dossier.  I made suggestions and edited her document.  She had accomplished more than most of the professors in my college.

Darlene was working day and night trying to please the bureaucrats.  They denied her promotion.  She took it all the way to the President again.  This argumentation is very strenuous and stressful.  They had promoted one of their male friends who had poor student evaluations and had not published.  It was a blow that knocked her down.  This is the very moment that she developed cancer.

For the past, approximately, two years she has battled cancer.  She never gave up. Even when she could barely stand or talk, she went to class.  She had to have a microphone installed at her desk so she could teach.  She was in hospice care and still teaching online.  She was remarkable in many ways.

I visited her and she showed me all the self-help books she was reading.  She had created very positive signs that she plastered on the mirror in her bathroom, like  “I am going to live! I am going to beat this!”  She adjusted her diet, exercised more, and worked very hard to stay alive.

Throughout all of this ordeal, not one other person from the university visited her.  At the beginning of this semester, as she walked to a class, one of her colleagues said to her, “Oh, I didn’t think you were coming back.”  When she called her colleagues, and asked if any of them would help her in her classes, when she had to go to the hospital, not one of them would substitute for her.  Last week her department sent flowers, finally.

Stress can kill.  There are many articles on the Net that give evidence of the effects of stress on the body.  I know because I developed a disease due to stress, but I saved  my life by leaving the university.  Darlene could not leave.  She had too many responsibilities.

There are many more twists and turns to this story.  But you get the picture I am drawing.  In the end, the boys and girls won,  they did not want to tenure or promote her — they killed her instead. It took some time, but they won.  The war is over.

P.S.  In the very last days of her life, they promoted her to Full Professor.  It was a kind of sick gesture to me.  They knew she would never collect.

Peace at Last!

Peace at Last!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Disillusionment in Higher Education, Education not War, Higher Education, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Killing a Professor, Misogynism in Higher Education, Strategies to derail females, Stress and Professors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Recipe #1 for Positive Change in Higher Education

Professionalize Teaching in Higher Education

Professionalize Professors

Teach professors how to teach!

For the past six months I have been ranting about all the problems I faced in Higher Education.  I am going to change my tune a bit and focus on how we can change Higher Education so that it becomes more user-friendly and helpful.

Recently I met a chair of a department in another college who said that she would not recommend a career in higher education to anyone.  The pay is low and the support is non-existent.  She said that when bureaucrats or would-be professors are interviewed for a job, they should ask them the following question:  “How much would you pay for this job, because we pay for our jobs every day of the week?

What did she mean?  She meant that as professors we have to support our own programs, because bureaucrats have other goals when they land their jobs at a university.  There is no direction or help when it comes to issues that affect the classroom, tenure and promotion, or collegiality.  Bureaucrats hire professors and send them off to sea, to swim alone.

In the next few blogs, I will offer suggestions on how to improve working conditions, teaching, and organizational structure, etc. within Higher Education.

Professionalize Doctoral Programs

Obtaining my Ph.D. was very challenging.  I had to test out of four languages, in addition to classes, the dissertation, and the comprehensive exams.  It takes a long time to climb that steep mountain.  Most Ph.D. programs ignore the fact that many students who make it through their programs are going to be teaching in Higher Education.

Toward the end of my Ph.D. program, I took classes in Higher Education Administration that were not required in my program.  These classes helped me throughout  my career.  Those classes included:  Law and Higher Education, Personality Theories, Counseling in Higher Education, and more.

License Professors to Teach

Professors should be certified to teach!

Professors should be certified to teach.

It is assumed that if you have obtained a Ph.D. that you  must be smart enough to teach.  Wrong!  I have watched faculty attempt to teach classes and fail to fill a 45 minute class.  They simply did not know how to teach.

All would-be professors should be schooled in teaching methodologies (or whatever the current buzz words are)  for engaging and helping students to learn.  They should be required to teach before they are given that golden contract at a university.  They should obtain a license to teach that guarantees that they know what they are doing in the classroom.

Certify Professors in Technology

They should also obtain certifications in the newest technologies. I have watched bureaucrats give new hires the responsibilities of developing online classes.  Those new hires had no knowledge of Black Board or any other online software.  Students suffer under these conditions.

Require Courses in Higher Education

Most professors are naive when it comes to politics on campus.  They know nothing about organizational structures, development of courses, committee work, public work, and more.  At a recent university where I taught, chairs would open departmental meetings with prayers.  A vice-president of students advertised a single religious organization in order to raise funds for that organization.  One director invited a lecturer to testify about her personal religion.  A criminal justice course included films and handouts that denigrated non-Christian religions.  And a President hired a Provost because he/she was of the same faith.  All of these activities violated the separation of church and state rules.  And there are many other issues that could be addressed here.

None of the bureaucrats who were my supervisors knew anything about law and Higher Education.  They made decisions based upon an empty bucket.  All professors and bureaucrats should take courses in Law and Higher Education.

After the Hire, Assign a Guide 

Good ole' boys take care of their own.

Good “old boys take care of their own!

Faculty need tremendous help in order to adjust to a university system–and to become successful in it.  Universities should assign a guide that helps professors through committees, bureaucratic systems, hard and soft technology (What good is software if you can’t work the machines?), benefits, grant opportunities, support groups, and, of course, teaching in the classroom.  This guide should remain with the new-hire until they land tenure.  The tenure process is daunting, and every college and university has different requirements. (The “good ole’ boys” still reign in  many institutions, so no matter how good your student evaluations or publications are, they will promote their friends first.)

Teaching methodologies differ from school to school.  When I first arrived at my last job, I gave essay tests. I, soon, learned that the majority of professors did not give essay tests.  If I had a class of thirty students, after grading an essay test, I would have thirty students at my door demanding a change in their grade for being unfairly graded.  No matter how well I schooled the students in how to take an essay exam, or how the exams were to be graded, they came streaming and sometimes yelling at my door.  The harassment was intentional, and I soon fell in line with the rest of the professors in order to protect my sanity.

And some universities put too much power in the hands of students when it comes to tenure and promotion.  So often, obtaining good student evaluations, which underlie tenure, means playing the happy politician with students and grade inflation explodes.  Education suffers when professors are forced to dummy down the curriculum in order to obtain tenure and keep their jobs.

To be continued …

As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Disillusionment in Higher Education, Higher Education, Misogynism in Higher Education, Strategies to derail females, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Academic Presidents Want to See Their Names in Lights

Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Spent on Frivolous Buildings

Egocentric Presidents

Egocentric Presidents

Egocentric Presidents, Provosts, Deans and other bureaucrats long to have their names splattered all over a building on a campus.  It is a kind of immortality or everlasting life. “They won’t forget me!”  In addition, since they are who they are, they qualify for two-million dollar residences to be built for them.

To that end they amass great sums of cash to build stadiums and party houses and to redecorate, re-purpose, or  renovate buildings that will shout their names to passersby.  At one of the universities where I taught, they spent $32 million to renovate a recreation building.  They also spent about $35 million to build a library where students rarely check out a book and faculty don’t even know where it is located.  Then they renovated the old library into stellar quarters for bureaucratic offices and other buildings to house technology and the business school. They spent millions on a new golf clubhouse and are now spending additional millions on renovating a golf course that hardly anyone uses.  Need a T-time?

Stadiums are the real reason for the existence of Universities

Stadiums are the real reason for the existence of Universities

Most recently they knocked down a beautiful building, (nothing wrong with it) that was enhanced with rebar.  It took months to bring it down because it was so well built.  It was so sad.  On the empty ground left behind, the President is building a party house where alcohol can be served.  The new residence/party house faces the football stadium, of course.   These projects are so important and needed on campus if your goal is to turn the university into a frat house.   The President had to move all of the plant personnel out of this building, so he bought a crumbling elementary school across town and moved all the equipment and people there.  (Stories say he paid $800K.) Who knows how much that move cost?  All hail the intelligence of the chief! Does this make sense?

Now he is back in his office asking for cuts in academics, office personnel, and faculty to back another one of his hair-brain schemes. He would like to streamline majors and colleges so that the university is not so complicated and diverse.  Little does he understand that he is destroying pluralism and future student enrollment.  Or, maybe he is willing to sacrifice all of this so that his name is splattered across the front of a building? Does this make sense?

20770299.thbMeanwhile, back at the REAL university, roofs leak, fixtures in restrooms are broken, and the women’s restroom in my building was not renovated in 25 years.  So I think it is at least 50 years old without any renovation.  Buildings periodically flood because of frozen pipes.  They turn off the heat and air to save money to support the President’s grand ideas.  Asbestos is still hidden underneath paint, in the ceilings, and behind closed doors.  Heating and cooling don’t exist in older buildings that house academic activities.  Does this make sense?

Classrooms look like they were built in the fifties and technology fails you most of the time. My office would heat up to 94 degrees in the summer and never got warmer than 55 degrees in the winter.  I had to open the door to the main hallway to feel any real heat. Students wore gloves to class.  Does this make sense?

Ghetto-like conditions of Professors

Ghetto-like conditions of Professors

Professors often work in tenement-like conditions.  There are no break rooms and no upgrades to furniture that is falling apart.  I had to purchase my own microwave and refrigerator.  I had to purchase my first desk and all the bookcases.  About ten years later, I negotiated to buy a new desk for which I had to pay one half of the price.  Does this make sense?

Student housing was in the same condition.  Pipes froze, fires broke out, the electricity failed, and infestations abound.  The Pres had cut the maintenance budget by half, some say, and they could not keep up with the problems.  How can a university take money from students and ask them to live in such conditions?  Does this make sense?

The other day I saw one of those sports teams from a previous university tooling down the highway in a Class A Motorhome.  I could not believe it!  And, even in my old age, I don’t understand how Boards of Governors or faculty allow bureaucrats to send sports teams all over the country while academics languishes in the ghetto.  Faculty often have to pay for their own copying, teaching tools, and tools to be used in the classroom.  Does this make sense?

In my career at a recent university, for most of my sentence, I supported the department in which I taught from my own salary while bureaucrats spent money like it is flowing like gold.  I can only remember four or five times in a quarter of a century where faculty were given a one or two percent raise.  Faculty are not important to them.  They would eliminate them if they could figure out how to run an institution without professors.  Does this make sense?

21748965.thmBureaucrats have tanked academic goals in colleges and universities.  They have been seduced by sports and dreams of their names in glittering lights above the football or basketball stadiums.

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Aid to education, Disillusionment in Higher Education, Fraternities and Sororities on Campus, Higher Education, Misogynism in Higher Education, Stealing Money from Universities, Students at risk, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment