EXTRA: MISSOU: Still the Place to Show ‘Em (About Shared Governance)

MISSOU: Still the Place to
Show ‘Em (About Shared Governance)

By

Leonard Zwelling

         I am a child of the 60’s and like nothing better than a good
honest, non-violent protest with clear demands by the protestors and clearer
consequences for inaction on the part of those being protested.

         In 1968, the Duke student body demanded minimum wage for the
underpaid cafeteria and janitorial staff and protested with a huge gathering on
the Main Quad in front of the Duke Chapel. Joan Baez even came. When it was
over, the workers got their money, we lost their services as cleaners of our
dorms, but it was worth it. And, oh yes, the President resigned and soon
thereafter came Terry Sanford and the rise of Duke as a quality alternative to
the Ivy League. I am not sure I could get in now.  

         The following year, a less specific protest by the
African-American students at Duke still yielded a tremendous raising of the
collective consciousness of the faculty and student body to the plight of
minorities in a very white environment. If the protest (occupation of the main administration
building by the African-American students) changed minds, the Durham Police surely did
when they gassed the very same quad that less than a year before had been the
site of non-violent protests. Oh well, one out of two ain’t bad especially when
compared with what was happening on other campuses during the Vietnam War and
subsequently during the invasion of Cambodia (e.g., Kent State).

         The latest campus protest at the University of Missouri in
Columbia was against insensitivity on the part of President Tim Wolfe to racial
strife on the campus. The student body was perceiving an atmosphere of
tolerance by the administration for the demonstrations of intolerance that many
had to endure. The final silver bullet in Wolfe’s heart was 30 varsity football
players staging a walkout in support of a hunger striker. Today (Monday,
November 9), President Wolfe resigned. In essence, the black students won. In fact, all the students did and the faculty, too. The
cost is still not clear because if the Missouri football team does not take the
field on Saturday, the school will pay Brigham Young $1 M.

         I write this as a reminder to my colleagues on Holcombe and
environs that there is a card left to play in your hand and everyone does not
have to play to make this effective.

1. The Protest could be as simple as a single individual
in each clinic not seeing patients by closing his or her template for the day
and doing other work. It would indeed be better if every clinician did this (I
bet that would cost the FORDs $1M), but that is not going to happen because the
younger physicians have no idea what MD Anderson used to be so don’t know any
better, and there are many clinicians, especially most of the departmental and remaining
divisional leaders, bought by the FORDs and stuffed into a spare pocket or two.

2. The Ask is simple. DePinho and the FORDs are ridden
out of town on a rail or a car carrying semi.

3. Another Ask: a policy of institutional conflict of
interest that precludes research being done at MD Anderson supported by companies
in which either faculty or the institution has equity. It’s unethical to have
the value of the portfolio be subject to the results of research at the
institution. It is about the starkest conflict of interest to afflict academia
today.

Missouri
is the “Show Me” State and they just did show the country how injustice and
inaction is protested and defeated. Let’s try it here.

What
this is really about is shared governance. The protestors in Missouri saw the
overt racism on campus as being tacitly tolerated by the President. He was
taking no action. The protestors did and in this action, they wrenched control
of the culture away from the leader to those being led. They took their share of shared governance. The lesson is that no one should expect the administration to give the faculty anything. It will have to be earned by being seized.

Think
about it!

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