Tuesday, March 31, 2009

T - 7 and counting

In just seven days the much anticipated election for the COD board of trustees (in most years a yawn of the century) will reach the inevitable denouement. The big question is, who will be in and who will be out? Will the forces of good prevail over those of evil? If it was one of those cookie-cutter popular movies, the answer would be clear. Unfortunately, real life is not normally so predictable.

There was a forum for the candidates at the COD today, organized by some of the groups on campus. A pretty sparse showing from the electorate, given that there are some 30,000 students in any given term, and some 2,000 employees of one form or another. 40 or so took time out of their busy days to attend. Evidently, some of the candidates were also too busy to attend, and the pattern is beginning to emerge. There are the invisible candidates who will never appear at anything, and have little more than a name on a ballot. One might even question whether they could spell the school's address or name its arts center. The two incumbents again showed their contempt for their own institution by not showing. Micheal "Mike" McKinNOn and Mark NOvak (there appears to be a glitch in my CAPS key). It's not as if the faculty (portrayed by these two as the inmates attempting to run the asylum) had organized this one.

At one point, LeDonne, firm of voice and bristling with enthusiasm, hails me from the podium as having a nanotechnology department (moment of embarrassment here) - an example of the kind of thing we should be doing - that I can agree with. This was in response to a question about his previously stated desire to get rid of "academic" courses. Things must be "relevant" to the community, he says. Fair enough I think, but why are not academic courses relevant to the community? How does one decide "relevance"? I guess the more significant question is, what exactly is meant by academic? Perhaps Mr. LeDonne's definition is different from mine. Nonetheless, I am flattered that he would think I have a nanotechnology department, and sad to face the reality of there not being one - unless you count a course on nanotechnology that has not yet actually been offered as being equivalent to a department. Maybe one day...

After the statements and the questions, I hung about for a bit and chatted and met a formidable, and somewhat terrifying, woman who identified herself as a member of Taproot. For those not in the know, Taproot is a collective of local conservatives, and I mean real conservatives - the kind that would find most moderate conservatives unacceptably liberal. So I enquired innocently, feigning ignorance, if Taproot was a group interested in growing vegetables like carrots - about the only taproot with which I am familiar. She responds with vigour, in the manner of a greying, but still energetic, drill sergeant, that Taproot gets its meaning from burrowing deep down (slightly unnerving idea), which means stability, and that's what conservatives are, like the people that founded this country (like only Taprooters are true Americans). She turns to Mr. LeDonne and asks, "Do they get it?" meaning me, implying I didn't. Well I did, only too well. Hmmm. Neither being a historian nor a student of the genesis of America, I am ill-equipped to respond to that assertion. Nonetheless, I am not entirely convinced that Jefferson would readily identify with the baying, jingoistic, shrill voice of the "true" Republican (the types that slaver over the repellent Limbaugh) that fraternizes with taproots. I gesture towards the refreshments and make my escape.

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