The University Record, May 22, 1995

LETTERS

Prof decries use of metaphors

President Duderstadt is reported in the May 8 issue of the Record as seeking the inclusion of men in the activities of the Agenda for Women and as offering a combination of "consciousness-raising" and "carrot-stick approaches to incentives for action."

I think I can deal with the "consciousness-raising" (elsewhere in the article called "education") bit: that is, I know what the president has in mind when he uses words like that. It means he is going to go right on misusing the idea of education as he has always done, suffering as he does from the delusion that education amounts to mental engineering. Perhaps it can't be helped: Yale's humanities distribution, if any, seems to have done little to moderate technological giddiness.

It's the carrot-and-stick part that puzzles me. Could he really mean to reward docile colleagues with messes of carrots and not spare the rod on factious faculty? Once before in a report of an article on the Agenda I had seen him quoted as using the same asinine figure, so I had supposed that someone would have by now--someone like his director of communications, a professor (ahem) of English--pointed out the implications of applying to persons of faculty and staff terms applicable to beasts of burden, to donkeys. But apparently not. Apparently all are so bemused by the literally unreadable language of such documents as the Mandate that they cannot hear the voice of its author crying out for help, "Stop me before I commit a metaphor again!"

I want to help. The University of Michigan, which someday might well become a "leading institution for the study of women and gender issues," has already in place studies in humane literature. An introductory course in poetry, for example, would offer the president a window of opportunity that he might seize at the cutting edge. After such a course I and many of my colleagues would appreciate a clear and precise definition of exactly what the president means by the word "stick" in his figure. Also in a spirit of positive help I want to offer the president the names and circumstance of specific women of my acquaintance, present faculty and staff, who have suffered abuse at the hands of administration. Forget sexual harassment just for a moment, please, and forget about the utopia the Agenda promises, please. Take a look at the situation of women currently in employ or on appointment.

Leo McNamara, professor of English

 

Palmer will add to gender diversity of EOs

We were delighted to read the announcement in your April 24 issue of the appointment of Roberta R. Palmer as secretary of the University. We believe, however, that it is important to emphasize to the University community that Ms. Palmer, as secretary, will be joining the ranks of the Executive Officers of the institution. In particular, we celebrate this appointment in that Ms. Palmer will help to further diversify the Executive Officers in regard to gender, joining Vice President Maureen Hartford and Vice Provost Rhetaugh Dumas. We congratulate the president, Regents and others who were involved in the appointment of this fine professional to such a key role and for adding her voice to this key decision-making and policy-setting group at the University.

Glenda Haskell, coordinator, academic services programs
Carol Hollenshead, director, Center for the Education of Women
Susan Kaufmann, associate director, Center for the Education of Women