Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Post-Review Comment Form

After it’s over for this year, here’s what I am struggling with: to feel my judgment and anger and express them creatively, through music, through writing, by getting out the crayons to scribble a picture of my feelings, through complaining (!). But not to let the feelings take me over, nor to feel ashamed by them. To remember that vengeance is not to be mine, that I don’t believe in the duality of enemies or hatred. To act with civility at the very least, with courtesy, with collegiality when possible.

How do I define courage in my job? Being present for the personnel reviews. Going into the classroom to teach, when I dread it each time. Courage is deciding to do these things anyway, and learning how to do them well. Preparing, practicing, learning techniques for asking clarifying questions and describing behaviors, providing encouragement, coping with the anxiety—mental, emotional, physical. Oh yes, spiritual. The last-gained, first-to-be-forgotten “leg” of sustainability.

What is sustainable economically, socially, environmentally? Spiritually?

Are personnel reviews, at 45 minutes for each person under review, for the 21 full-time tenure-track or tenured faculty present, financially sustainable? When do we split the process into sub-groups? Does it make more sense for only tenured faculty to participate?

Is public criticism sustainable socially? Is this our way of shaping our colleagues? Is it effective in creating a cohesive and collegial culture? What are the emotional costs?

What kind of carbon footprint does the process leave, literally? Items trashed but not recycled: styrofoam and plastic cups, plates, silverware. A lot of food was consumed nervously and compulsively, and probably unnecessarily.

And what of the spiritual? How does each of us cope with the urge to get revenge for perceived slights by the reviewee or reviewers? Do we wait for the Spirit to speak through us, do we bring intellectually-prepared statements, or some combination of both? How do we love our neighbor as ourselves (do we love ourselves at all!) during this time of high tension?

As usual, I have questions, not answers. However, I do think it is too bad that we rely on an ego-infected majority vote instead of practicing spirit-infused discernment.

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