I thought I was getting my computer back today. Two hours walking through freezing winds to discover that it was a miscommunication. The computer is fixed, but still in transit. But as it turns out I do have something I can share.
Some people intended to take grievances to the University President at her office. Rather than face them she shut down the entire building. I wrote this about some details:
The doors weren't locked. They were handcuffed shut.
Sometimes little details like that make a big difference. The doors could have been locked. They weren't. Instead it was decided that it was better to leave them unlocked with the inside handles handcuffed together so they couldn't be opened enough to enter.
Later on, a similar decision was made. An hour and fifteen minutes after the crowd of people who had wanted to go through those doors moved to a different location and the handcuffs had been removed entry through the unlocked doors was still barred, this time by a pair of police officers. The two had no comment on why they didn't lock the doors or why they felt the need to have their weapons drawn when they were alone except the odd passer by. In fact they had no words at all. Not even, “No comment.” They simply made gestures with their batons.
It seems these days projecting an image is more important than actually accomplishing a goal. To achieve the goal of keeping people from meeting inside the building locking the doors would have been sufficient, but that wouldn't have sent the same message as the use of handcuffs or, later, a pair of officers brandishing weapons at anyone who approached the unlocked doors.
The odd thing is that the message in question was received well before it was sent today (Monday). If there's any theme that's defined USM's administration through the various changes in the past few years it is that students and faculty both know that their input isn't welcome. Threatening gestures are entirely unnecessary, those who are invested in USM's future are used to their voices being ignored.
It's become standard practice to assume that when you say something no one is listening and when you're told something it probably isn't true. Whether it's the amount that enrollment has dropped (a figure neither of the last two administrations has managed to consistently get right), the amount that a program costs (see: Physics), the number of majors in a department (see: English), whether the university is making or losing money, the time of day, or the color of the sky the rule of thumb is, “If the administration says it, don't trust until you verify.” As for being heard, one only needs to look to the debacle of online classes: continually touted as something the students want in spite of the students continuously saying that they prefer brick and mortar classrooms and face to face interaction with teachers.
There is a reason that a meeting about the future of the university, something that was once sure to attract less than 20 students, attracted over 200 students. It's been made very clear that students and faculty alike are not being listened to --scare tactics are unnecessary to drive this message home-- and thus the only refuge left seems to be in numbers. The more the students and faculty are ignored individually, the larger the groups will become. Only two things could change that. One is if the students and faculty lose all hope. The other is if the administration starts to listen.
Gestures with handcuffs and weapons won't scare people into not caring, and the message such gestures send was received a while ago.