Safe Zone?

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daniel_von_flanagan:
Quote from: democritus on February 13, 2013,  6:53:36 AM

I beg to differ. Problems, such as the one being discussed on this thread, are being solved. Slowly, with difficulty, and hardly as quickly as they could (and should ideally) be, but they are.
Much more slowly than they should be.  By alienating people like polly you lose a natural ally, and slow the process. 

There still exist faculty who are actively hostile: they don't think that minorities or women should be faculty (at least in their areas), they oppose special consideration for traditionally oppressed groups, they fear or otherwise dislike LGBT students and faculty, and so on. In the vast middle, however, are faculty who find the idea of academic discrimination on any ground other than intellectual ability so puzzling that they can't see it all around them, or if they do they find some of the active solutions proposed offputting.  When you alienate the second group they behave (and, in particular, vote on committees) like the first group.  It becomes easy to think that they are the same group, but really, they're not.

What do I suggest instead?  On a forum, it is hard to say.  In my case, what changed me was getting to know (through university committee work, and sharing a picket line) and respect faculty who work on such issues academically, and talking about the evidence and possible causes of the problems.  (Of course, I lived through the late 50s and 60s and 70s, mainly among strong and active women, so I was not coming from a perspective that the struggle of women and gays and minorities was some abstraction from the distant past.  This helped.) Until then my experience on campus was basically polly's, where periodically someone I didn't know except by title would come and tell us we were doing stuff wrong, and that we should do X, without any sense that there was value in convincing us that X was consistent with our primary mission as STEM faculty.  This approach is almost guaranteed to put people on the defensive, and encourage them to dig in. - DvF

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