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Okay! the wait is over.

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Oh, of course the Christmas Ceasefire wasn’t a ceasefire at all.  did I post about that? In November, when the dean of education summoned me, then decided he didn’t want to meet me after all, but just left me hanging? I don’t think I got around to posting that. Anyway,  it was only a moment of silence. I went to the office of the head of the department on March 1st to ask which courses I would be teaching in the summer.

The answer is:

0

“until further notice” the head of the department said. Under direction from the dean of the faculty of education. There were no disciplinary actions, no investigation as far as I’m aware – beyond some flunky, (I think) searching around the internet a little bit and finding evidence of my evil harmfulness. The dean is punishing me by not offering me any courses to teach until further notice.

I was not surprised. But I was mad as a wet cat. Livid.

Also, to be honest, tiny bit relieved. At least I know now, that they’ve made a move. And I can make a move. I went to the faculty association. I REALLY wanted to go to the Dean’s office, and give him a piece of my mind. He’s always rabbiting on about social justice and equity and fucking diversity and shit. Then he pulls the rug out from under the working-class, middle-aged lesbian sessional instructor. That’s all social justicey, isn’t it?

Ya. I thought so, too. So I’m going to make a complaint through BC Human Rights on the basis of political beliefs, which is a protected grounds of discrimination, as is sex as is gender identity. And some other things. But these three, these are the ones we’re going to have to wrestle over.

I went to talk to the woman at the Faculty Association, like I said, and she said that in her conversations with colleagues, that they’ve offered her criticisms about some of the items in the letter I sent to the head of the department in the fall. He’d sent me a heavy-handed, bullying kind of letter in the fall and I responded. In his letter, he said that I was not allowed to suggest that if a student didn’t like the instructor, they could choose another section. My reply went something like, “well, the course was over-subscribed, there were a million sections offered at the same time, actually, sure they could find another section. If they didn’t want their political beliefs or opinions or ideas challenged, go find someone else.”

One of my advocate’s colleagues said, “well, that’s like telling Rosa Parks she should’ve sat on a different seat”. Which I thought was ridiculous, simplistic and completely inaccurate at the time. But I couldn’t quite articulate it as well then as later. so, once i thought about it a bit, I wrote her this:

“I’ve been thinking (Okay, obsessing a little bit) about that comparison your colleague made between saying a student could pick a different section and saying Rosa Parks could’ve picked another seat on the bus — and the more I think about it, the more offensive it is.

“1) Rosa Parks was jailed for sitting down on the bus. I never once  suggested anyone in my classes (that student or anyone else) would be punished for taking a view that was different from mine, and i never asked the student to leave the class, or go sit somewhere else, or suggest I would take action against her for taking my class.

“2). Rosa Parks was part of an organization, and a political liberation movement. Her action was carefully planned and part of a larger vision and set of strategies to achieve freedom. She knew she was likely to get arrested, and she and her group decided that she would be the one to take the risk to sit down on the bus. The student who complained about me, misquoted me and switched sections is mad  because I think something different than she thinks. She is claiming an “Identity”, she is not acting on behalf of an organized social movement committed to liberation — rather she is acting to bring sanction against anyone who would question the veracity of her ideas about sex and gender. it’s completely different.

“and finally,

“3). this is an egregious insult to Rosa Parks and to the civil rights movement organizers of the 60s. People were murdered for their political views. I have never once threatened or insulted anyone who is trans or believes that gender is innate, or who disagrees with me. On the other hand, I am facing the loss of my livelihood, damage to my reputation, and potential barriers to future employment as an educator.”

dammit.

I don’t know what to do now. But I’m going to finish the semester, file the human rights complaint. Meet with the dean if he decides to do that, and open a discussion with other sessional faculty in the department. And then I’ll find some work where I can stretch out a bit – teach, collaborate, organize, write, — I don’t know where, yet, I don’t know what. But I don’t belong in a university, that’s pretty clear. They need more like me, but they sure don’t want more like me.

Ah well. There are lots of places I can work. You know how it is, though, right? when you’ve been at a place so long, you can’t imagine where else to go, what else to do? Even if that place kicked the shit out of your creativity, and you were lonely there most of the time, and you didn’t really ever get a sense of completion? Do you know how that is?

I do. Time for a new thing. Even if I’m frightened.

About easilyriled

My mom was Edith, my dad was John. I have a brother, who is Shawn. I have many friends and allies and mentors in my life. I'm white, over-educated, working in a field for which I am not yet trained, messy, funny, smart, lesbian, feminist "Not the fun kind", as Andrea Dworkin said. But I, like the feminists I hang with, ARE fun. I play accordion better than I did, and i'm kinda learning the concertina. But really, only theoretically. So no. Not learning concertina. But learning how to do my new job. I suspect this will be lifelong.

3 responses »

  1. Thanks for your courage! ♥

    Reply
  2. Oh Erin, this is shit and I’m so sorry. I know you’re a brilliant teacher and juggler of opposing/conflicting/clashing viewpoints in the classroom. I just found my way back in to your space here and now I know why you had some walls up. If you need a friendly ear, I’m only a few provinces east…xoj

    Reply

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