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UO Composition GTFs call out admins on disrespectful, uncivil discourse

11/28/2014 Editor’s note: As of Friday, this letter has been downloaded more times than anything I’ve ever posted, except a few documents from various athletics scandals. As one commenter notes, “When you’ve lost your composition instructors, you’ve lost the war.”

11/25/2014: My headline, not theirs, but I think it captures the gist. 46 signatures so far, mostly GTF’s. Given UO’s history of retaliation, and their lack of tenure protection, this one took some real guts to send. Con rispetto, full letter with signators here:

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  1. Admin embarrassment 11/25/2014

    Please keep jumping on the UO administration for setting the stage for a finger-pointing exercise where faculty and GTFs take the blame for the costs paid by undergraduates. Truly, the higher are those costs, as the administration priming us to consider, the more we learn about just how stubbornly they are wanting to stick to their position. Cheap as all hell. I’m pointing my finger at Coltrane. Students and parents should, too.

  2. Hearts and Minds 11/25/2014

    When you lose your composition instructors, you’ve lost the war. Settle this tonight, Scott.

  3. Gina Psaki 11/25/2014

    Bravi–as in both bravura and bravery.

  4. Working GTF 11/26/2014

    Kudos the the composition crew. Matthews’ behavior at the table was not only uncivil–which, in truth, is being kind–it was exhibited the kind of uninformed bluster one normally witnesses in the case of the overconfident freshman, a mien totally unbecoming of a person in his position and at his pay grade. Complete and total lack of composure, tact, and skill.

    • anonymous 11/26/2014

      Lawyers in big-time corporate negotiations are often uncivil to the point of Jerry Springer-esque, and they are rewarded handsomely for it. Mr. Land-Use had no idea what he was doing, so he probably thought he was supposed to play Mr. Hot-Shot Mergers & Acquisitions.

  5. anon student 11/26/2014

    Perfectly put. I’ve honestly been a bit shocked at how the administration has handled this issue- I guess I was a bit too idealistic about how an educational institution should treat its teachers, students, and workers.

  6. Anonymous 11/26/2014

    It’s silly to think that bargaining with a union should follow the same rules that composition instructors follow with their students. This just makes the graduate students look silly in my opinion.

    • anonymous 11/26/2014

      The point is that there’s no excuse for the administration’s behavior and tactics. A university administration trying to play hardball with a graduate student union over a minimal standard of living and a basic leave benefit looks a whole lot worse than silly.

    • Michael Smith 11/26/2014

      Ethical argumentation is not a composition classroom “rule.” It is an approach to discourse that applies to all disagreements. It includes the principle, for instance, that we make “an effort to treat […] differences charitably and interpret the stakes of the argument as honestly and openly as possible.” As the letter states, it is taught in all comp courses because it is a core principle of academic discourse. It seems like what you’re saying is that it’s silly to expect the UO Administration to behave ethically, but I don’t think you really mean that.

  7. Cynic 11/28/2014

    I am in no position to have the information to judge the relative merits of the two sides positions, so I have no basis for judging them. that said, I am disappointed at the lack of judgment by the university (originally gottfredson or espy?) in hiring a corporate lawyer to lead the university bargaining team as lead negotiator. As a consultant to the team, fine, but in your face, corporate shark representation is one of many predictable ways to get to this kind of impasse. I have served on university bargaining teams in the past and can say that this decision has had predictable consequences. Why new people now in authority and in whom I have more faith, have not seen this is beyond me.

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