By Robert Mann
I sometimes wonder why more faculty members at LSU and elsewhere don’t speak up about how their schools have been defunded over the past eight years. It frustrates me that teachers and students only marched on the Capitol once — and after it was almost too late to save anything — to express their outrage over how Gov. Bobby Jindal and legislators had picked apart their institutions, running off hundreds of great faculty members and putting a college education out of the reach of thousands of families.
But after someone pointed out this Facebook comment to me, I’m reminded why so many are so timid.
This guy is insignificant and ignorant and I truly worry about him about as much and as long as I’ll worry about the gnat buzzing around me as I write this.
But it reminds me that there are too many out there like him who see any comparison of the state’s treatment of academics versus athletics as treasonous. And they are willing to attack you viciously. If you dare to suggest our priorities are totally screwed up — no matter where the money comes from — you’ll be told that you’re basically worthless for working in the teaching profession.
The critics will tell you to leave Louisiana if you don’t like it — as if dissent in the United States is somehow treachery.
If you have tenure, like me, perhaps you won’t worry so much about speaking out. But if even if you do have tenure and maybe one day think you’d like to be an associate dean or some kind of administrator, you might keep quiet because you know you’ll be singled out for attacks like this. At the very least, you know the higher ups won’t care for this kind of talk. And it probably won’t make you attractive if you should ever decide to move to another school.
You may be warned, as I was by one prominent colleague on my faculty in 2013, that what I’m doing is hurting my school/department and that, actually, I’m nothing more than a coward hiding behind my tenure. You might be told, as this faculty member said to me, that I should keep quiet so that the LSU Board doesn’t come after our school.
In the end, you may be coerced to remain silent. Truth be told, it really is easier to stay quiet and keep your head down than to speak up and make people uncomfortable. You’ll have a much more pleasant life, I promise you. It’s not fun to be assailed. I get that and I understand it all too well.
And I understand there are a thousand other reasons why so many remain quiet. I know there are many young faculty members who don’t have tenure and there are staff members with even less job protection. They have families to feed and mortgages to pay. They simply cannot afford to jeopardize their careers and their futures by raising hell in a blog or in a letter to the editor.
I don’t blame them and I understand their fear. I do know that I woke up almost every morning for the past four or five years wondering if this might be the day when someone in the Jindal camp (or his allies on the LSU Board) finally found a way to get rid of me. I knew they wanted to.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Heck, I look back at some of what I’ve written over past couple of years and I disagree with it, myself.
What I do regret is that there are people who fundamentally believe the act of dissent is disloyalty.
There are many other examples of it. This guy is just one of the worst and most ignorant examples. He and those like him are also among the most dishonest.
Why’s that? Check and see how many times he or those like him have attacked professor Jeff Sadow at LSU-S for all his blog and column writing in support of Bobby Jindal (not to mention his relentless comment trolling on NOLA.com before he got his Advocate gig).
I’ll wait while you check.