A First Step

A First Step

By

Leonard Zwelling

            For
the first time since Dr. DePinho ascended to the MD Anderson Presidency, there
is serious discussion about having a vote of no confidence taken by the Faculty
Senate. This step has now been proposed on this blog in guest editorials by
former chairs of the Faculty Senate. This is a huge step as it is basically a
statement that the leader selected by those with fiduciary responsibility for
the well-being of the faculty, staff and patients of MD Anderson in a
completely non-democratic process, when evaluated in a plebiscite comes up
short. Given that this would likely provoke a real crisis at Anderson and would
attract local attention in the press if not national news, many to whom I have
spoken are reluctant to go this far.  In fact, I was reluctant to go that far.

            On
the other hand, given that there is no recall option and that any form of
shared governance has largely been met with little substantive actions by the
administration, what else can be done? You really cannot fault those wanting to
make such a statement even if it is a howl at the moon (sorry, I couldn’t help
that).

            But
what if there was something in between doing nothing and a no confidence vote
that would convey the displeasure of the faculty and staff with the current
leadership that was sufficiently graphic, but less in your face? Might that be
a first step toward a peaceful demonstration of dissatisfaction?

            I
believe it would and I believe that Wendy Davis has provided us an example.

            As
most of you are aware, Senator Davis made national news with her catheter-aided
filibuster of the abortion bill in the Texas legislature. Her stance for her
cause was also aided by some comfortable pink running shoes that have gone
viral along with her political stock. She may well be the person who breaks
the GOP’s stranglehold on Texas statewide elective office in the near future
and she is certainly the darling of the left even getting a dedicated song at
the Cyndi Lauper concert last Friday at the House of Blues.

            Senator
Davis has given me an idea and I would love to hear from all of you out there
about it. If you like it, I will propose it at the next meeting of the Faculty
Senate. (I am a senator).

            Let’s
say on August 1 we declare a “Vote With Your Feet Day” among the Anderson
faculty and staff. All those who think that the current president of MD
Anderson ought to change directions radically, consult with those over whom he
has domain, relinquish some power and begin to fly right forego their usual
footwear and wear some form of athletic shoe. That’s it. No tee shirts. No
buttons. No speeches. No tear gas (I was there when they gassed the quad at
Duke). Just tennis shoes or Nikes or Reeboks or whatever brand is in your
closet. No special purchase required. For the older faculty, PF Flyers,
Converse and Keds will do.

            If
you wish to let me know your opinion of this proposal, please email me at lzwellin@mdanderson.org or Leonard.zwelling@gmail.com or send
me a note at Unit 1950 or even call at 713-859-8714.  If enough of you let me know, I will make the proposal at
the next Senate meeting so that we can debate it and perhaps vote on it.

            I
know this is a bit of a challenge for those of you who eschew politics and
won’t take a stand on anything, but if you don’t stand for something, you’ll
fall for anything.

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