“The Meeting of the Faculty Senate” From “Universitetskaia Pravda,” October 32, 1936

by Plato


 

Part II in our series on “The Importance of a Liberal Arts Degree.”

 

The following is the stenographic record of the meeting of University Faculty Professional Union (FakUProf), formerly known as The Faculty Senate.

 

Secretary: Comrades, I am counting five people in the room including myself, four of them awake, one sober, and all with the munchies. We have a quorum. To business. May I have your agreement to the new bylaw art.3.a.i, on the constitutional division of powers, which reads “We decide, you agree”? (Approved by silent acclamation.) And art.6.f.iv on democratic mass mobilization which reads “The President is responsible to the Trustees, the President Appoints the Trustees, and the Trustees Appoint the President”? (Approved by thunderous silence.) Now, the only item in our agenda is the decree of the Central Committee “On the Means and Ways to Achieve Maximum Impactfulness in a Changing Global Environment.” I am sure you have read the accompanying report, with the afterword by Comrade University President on p. 1,337. Allow me to express my opinion that part 16 section 41 “On The Reorganization of Thought Centers and the Effective Levers of Operationality, Synergy, and Interinstitutionality” is one of the more compelling, artful, and concise formulations of the issue I have read since the start of our Great Managerial Revolution. (Assent by prolonged snoring.) Com. Dekanov, the floor is yours.

Com. Dekanov: Comrades, as the representative of the Center, I bring you globalizational greetings! (Applause.) As you know the only purpose of my office is to deepen your understanding of the general line so as to increase spontaneous enthusiasm as we set about implementing it. Allow me to paraphrase what you already know from your readings. It is known to all that the key to success is constant growth, whatever the cost and whatever the purpose. (Applause.) All of the universities have invested in glorious building projects, including Harvard, Yale, NYU, and the University of Phoenix, even at the cost of their faculty, employees, and education. Comrades, we have 10 years to catch up and surpass them, or we shall perish. And why 10 years? It is because nine years are too few and 11 are too many. (Applause.) But what does growth mean, comrades? There are some who will say that growth means the provision of a better and more comprehensive education, the more careful cultivation of young minds, that our purpose is to subject tomorrow’s leaders to complexity and confusing bourgeois ambiguity which we call critical thinking. Can this be so, Comrades?

(Shouts of No! No! Down with bourgeois ambiguity!)

Com. Dekanov: No, Comrades! As was recently enshrined in our perfected University Constitution, we have arrived at a scientific understanding of the liberal arts as conceived so uncannily by Com. University President, and captured in the bold slogan, “Think Big Buildings in the Sky, with Balloons.” Comrades, our purpose is to make bigger the “Big University,” faithfully following the wise path forged by Comrade University President in his Plenary Speech to the Trustees, “The Big University.”

(Shouts and applause: Long live bigness! Size matters!)

Com. Dekanov: It is for this reason that Comrade University President, a thought-leader with global vision, has explained that our goal is to build an entirely new building complex where there was once an empty tundra of plants, woods, playgrounds, affordable housing, families, communities, and a library. We have examined his words carefully in the subcommittee chaired by com. Lysenko and concluded that one of these buildings must be built in the sky, with balloons. And what is more, comrades? There is in fact no need for it, it cannot be engineered, and we cannot afford it, which is exactly why we shall do it! It shall float as the shining legacy of the leadership of com. University President.

(Wild applause. Shouts of “Down with libraries! Long live unnecessary and unaffordable buildings!”)

Com. Somnenov: Thank you, com. Dekanov, for the firm leadership you have brought us. I am certain that the local cadres will endeavor still harder to bring to life the plans of com. University President. Might I ask though how our budget will be restructured to pay for this entirely necessary unnecessary all-people achievement?

Com. Dekanov: Comrade Somnenov, you are an educated person and I ask you: have you doubts about the willingness of the faculty to sacrifice ever more to receive their generous 0% or 1% raises, and even beg that these be reduced until they have achieved reverse income growth, as set forth in “Vision 1946”? Do you query whether our citizen faculty will happily give up their scarce office space to management consultants who will make this bold vision a reality? Have you doubts that our students will be willing to dispense with books, classrooms, and knowledge itself to achieve greater learning and a better tomorrow for their children? Only a thinker-wrecker, or a humanist-saboteur, would doubt the formula consultants+buildings=impactfulness, as world-historically articulated by our ingenious com. University President!

(Shouts: Down with humanist-saboteurs! Long live impactfulness!)

Com. Dekanov: There are those who will say: But your dreams and aspirations will bankrupt us! Why do we need buildings that we do not need? We say: You are a sacrifice we are willing to make. We will sell every last book and compromise every educational precept to achieve more university! We will abandon every ounce of the liberal arts in order to build a new, bigger institution of higher education, which we call “The Big University”! We shall lower our requirements to zero in order to attract students willing to invest in their futures! In the end we will have a new kind of faculty and a new policy of “Trust in Faculty.” Not a ray of light will exist between the President and the faculty as they march arm-in-arm toward “Better bigger, but less!” This, citizen Somnevov, is the purpose of the perfected university!

Comrade Dumova: So what is a liberal arts education? I forget.

Comrade Dekanov: I propose, comrade, that you reread the sections of the “History of the Liberal Arts (ba): A Short Course,” where the issue is set forth in its full dialectical splendor. But it comes down to this: “To Ask Questions Is to Show Ignorance.”

Comrade Umanov: But what does that have to do with the liberal arts?

Comrade Dekanov: Even a fool would understand that all of this is in defense of the liberal arts! Only a critical-thinker-saboteur would deny that the destruction of the liberal arts is for the good of the liberal arts! Only a wrecker would question the affordability of what we cannot afford! Only the enemies of progress would claim that we do not need what we do not indeed need! We could build inverted castles in the sky if we so chose! Our new goal is to redouble our thinking on a global level – “Global Doublethink,” to echo the slogan of the last all-University Conference on Very Specific Measures.

(Shouts: Long live fools!  Down with critical-thinker-saboteurs! Long live inverted castles in the sky! Long live Global Doublethink!)

Secretary: Comrades, we all feel confident in the leadership team of our university and we shall maximize our efforts to even approach the heights occupied by our dear comrade University President. Those present who approved the resolution, no matter what their ratio of inebriation to sycophancy, will receive commemorative 3-gram jars of caviar and named chairs. (Sound of rustling.) No, you deviationist-revisionists, put down the chairs, they have real value. I mean that you will receive professorships named after generous donors. How else will we pay for the buildings?

 

The meeting concluded with the unmasking of citizens Somnenov, Dumova, and Umanov as enemies of the faculty and their exile to the Global Distance Learning College of the Arctic, Gobi Campus. All stood for the singing of “The Rationale.”  

This just in: the transcript of the show trial of the Dekanov Center for squandering the people’s resources on inverted castles in the sky, with balloons, contrary to the general line and the teachings of comrade University President on “The GNAT (Global Network Academic Triangle), a Balloon-Free Space.”

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