Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fresh hells

You know how there's a lot of discussion about regulations strangling small businesses?

Well, to a lesser extent, it's happening on college campuses. We have had to do three separate different "trainings" on separate issues (dealing with violent/angry students, not sexually harassing people, and sexual assault avoidance - well, that last is still pending. We were supposed to have done it, I guess, but the link wasn't up yet).

I expect to see more of this. We've also been given increasing amounts of documentation we are mandated to include in our syllabi: information on Title IX. An affidavit on non-discrimination. Information on where students can go for help if they feel like they are in crisis. And on, and on.

And in some cases, I don't necessarily think it's a bad idea: having clearly posted, clearly available information of "This is how to get help if your roommate/friend/whoever is threatening suicide and this is how you can get help if you are seriously depressed" but the affidavits are....I don't know. I try hard to be fair and just and if I weren't I'd hope a student would call me on it, and it seems kind of, I don't know, hollow, to put a statement in there saying yst ou WON'T discriminate. (And the cynical side of me makes me wonder if it will make some people start LOOKING for things that LOOK LIKE discrimination)

But the thing is, they want 100% compliance. It's not gotten quite here yet, but I've heard that on some campuses, failing to comply means you don't get paid. Or you're not allowed to work with students. (Funny. I don't think I had to have a background check before I started working here....)

And you have to have someone to keep records on  compliance. And that doesn't come for free - you can't just tell one of the people in HR, "This is another part of your job now" because our HR is already overstretched with other stuff. So you gotta hire someone. And pay them. And pay for their benefits.

As I've said before: one of the three reasons why I think college has gotten so expensive is governmental mandates. (The other two: the fact that most people aren't actually paying with real money, so costs can be buried in it, and also the fact that parents and students expect a level of luxury that even when I was an undergrad, less than 30 years ago, was unheard of....ensuite kitchens in dorms, for example). You have a whole army of administrators who deal with this stuff (and harass departments over it).

(In fact, one of the offices lost some of the paperwork we signed in my department, and sent us all e-mails telling us we were "out of compliance" until someone complained and they relented and said, "Okay, okay, we'll trust you, even though we really shouldn't")

A lot of this stuff is what I call Someone Must Do Something syndrome: some magazines and newspapers report on an "epidemic" of rape on campus. Never mind that at least one of those stories was apparently fabricated. Never mind that when statistics are actually examined using good analysis techniques, it doesn't look nearly as bad as it originally seemed, it's a Crisis and Something Must Be Done.

So now there's a requirement that professors watch an anti-rape video. The students have to, also. But I admit, I wonder: would someone who could justify raping another person (let's, for now, leave out the various definitions and leave "rape" as "Having sex with someone who either has clearly NOT consented, or who is too impaired with alcohol or drugs to reasonably consent") going to have their minds changed by a video? I admit I'm cynical about human nature but I knew people who still said harassing things to their underlings even after the anti-harassment training. People who don't care about others or about consequences will not be made to care by a video, and people who do care, their time is just being wasted.

(And okay. Maybe there are some people naive enough not to know that, for example, pressuring a woman in your employ repeatedly to go out with you isn't sexual harassment, and in that case, a cluebat is useful - but one would think those cluebats could be applied as needed, rather than as a carpet bombing).

I don't know. I wonder what's coming down the pike. I've often said if they expect faculty to take on more of a "counselor" role, we're gonna require coursework in Psychology. I really hope it doesn't come to that.

Another thing: I've wanted for a couple years to get CPR recertified. I learned it years ago and was certified when I was in graduate school. Never had to use it but it was good to know I was certified just in case. I know the standards have changed, and also, we have the defibrillators now, which I think you need to be trained in.  When I ask about recertification, I'm put off, told, "There's not enough demand for that" and I guess if I want it, I'll have to find a YMCA or something that does it and go do it on my own.  Because I'd feel a lot better, even with our 'good samaritan' laws, knowing I had had recent training if someone in my class had heart failure and I tried to save their life while waiting on the EMTs.

1 comment:

Kate P said...

I'm surprised they're not interested in your re-certification. Hmmmmm. My previous two employers were really big on it.