The College has been through a lot in the last eight years. We’ve faced accreditation sanctions and budget emergencies. Through these crises, we faced challenges working together—listening to each other, discussing issues with civility and collegiality, and respectfully disagreeing.
Those of you who’ve been working for the College for a few years remember a time when trust, openness and transparency were hampered and collegiality and civility in our verbal and email communication had broken down. Recognizing the potential to devolve into a community of distrust, retrenchment and dis-ease as well as the real possibility of continued accreditation sanction, we took the crucial step of creating a statement of shared values and a set of guidelines that would shape our participatory governance process and encourage the development of a community built on trust and openness. Those shared values and guidelines were encapsulated in Administrative Procedure (AP) 3260.
In adopting AP 3260 we made the commitment to be honest, open, candid, and tolerant; to expect and cultivate the same behavior from all others in the process; and to refrain from words or behaviors that either personally demean or discount a colleague’s contribution to the college.
In my experience at the college, the majority of people treat others with respect and consideration. However, over the past several months, some of our faculty and administrative colleagues have been subject to verbal or email communications that were construed as disrespectful, demeaning, bullying, hostile, personally insulting, intimidating, dismissive and unprofessional. Some disrespectful comments have happened directly and indirectly with students. Left unchecked, I am concerned that we’ll find ourselves reliving the dynamics of a few years ago—employee discontent, low morale, faculty and staff retrenchment, and hesitancy to get involved in governance and leadership.
The intention of this post is not to mandate collegiality—clearly that is not feasible or desirable— or curtail anyone’s free speech rights but to make sure that on those rare occasions when egregious behavior persists or reaches a point where our colleagues are hurt, the administration will take steps to do all it can to remedy the situation. It’s very important that we hold each other accountable for our actions as elucidated in BP/AP 3260 “Participatory Governance” and BP/AP 3431 “Bullying.”
We all have the right to a workplace community free of intimidation, hostility and personal attacks. We have an obligation to foster a community where all voices—faculty, staff, managers and administrators—are allowed to be heard without fear of recrimination and attack.