On Lake, McHenry, and Walworth Counties

In August, I wrote that dorm-construction wasn’t the big story at UW-Whitewater, but rather it was the federal lawsuit against former Chancellor Telfer and [then-current] Athletic Director Amy Edmonds.   Even in her mundane story of residence-construction, the Journal Sentinel‘s Karen Herzog got it wrong: the bigger story was an increasing number of out-of-state students (now about 1-6 of all students), including many from Lake and McHenry Counties in Illinois.

Why does that matter?  Because many of those students are coming from out-of-state counties more affluent than Walworth County.  They and their families are likely to have different expectations.

The figures on median household income and poverty are striking.

For median household income (in 2015 dollars), 2011-2015: Walworth County $53,445, United States $53,889, McHenry County $77,222, and Lake County $78,026.  For persons in poverty, percent:  McHenry County 6.9%, and Lake County 9.5%, United States 13.5%, Walworth County 13.7%.

The superficial answer (one that Whitewater has tried for a generation) would be to use public money to build more, in the (false) hope that the town will look better, and so be more attractive to outsiders.  (That’s been mostly the search for young families, but some of the same standards apply to young, non-married residents.)

That’s not, however, the solution if one wants to keep attracting this kind of student, or successful families. (One knows public-funding of construction isn’t the solution; if it were, Whitewater would already be Brentwood.)  The expectations and gap from them are cultural, and only a change in campus & community relations – especially in the attitude of those in authority – will assure Whitewater is a desirable destination for those accustomed to a different level of care and opportunity.

Plain-Spoken in a Small Town? Not Most Leaders

localThere’s a quaint – but false – notion that people in small towns are uncommonly plain-spoken, even blunt.  One sometimes sees examples of this in films or books, where residents are depicted as folksy straight-talkers (“shucks, I don’t cotton to no one abusing nobody,” etc.).  I’ve never heard anyone in Whitewater speak so colorfully, and I’ve doubts that anyone not on a Hollywood set actually speaks like this.

Most people – and certainly most leaders – in this small town don’t often speak bluntly and openly.  On the contrary, there’s bias against mentioning problems publicly, even if they stem from intentional, grievous misconduct.

Now, and in the years ahead, one can expect that a multi-ethic community such as this one will see heightened slurs and abuse, overuse of force against a few, and (much) official quiescence in the face of it. (Some will even encourage this, convinced that pressure is justified against others and feeling that it is cathartic for themselves.)

Early on, perhaps a few officials will try to stress the positive, hiding others’ wrongful conduct from view, on the theory that the worst of all this will go away.

It won’t.  Those who keep their heads down may later find that they’ve no longer the strength to lift them up again.  A difficult near-term for Whitewater is likely to get worse.  These actions will prove wrong in-and-of themselves, and secondarily will prove an effective retardant against discerning, prosperous newcomers. Such newcomers – much sought by local development officials – will go elsewhere.

No matter, sadly: most locally will carry on as they have been.

For communities choosing the quieter response, including this one, the die is cast.

Answer of Telfer and Edmonds to Former Coach Fader’s Federal Lawsuit

local

In August, Timothy Fader, the former wrestling coach at UW-Whitewater, filed a federal lawsuit against former chancellor Richard Telfer and then-Athletic Director Amy Edmonds (she has since been demoted), alleging defamation & constructive termination stemming from a dismissal because Fader reported an alleged sexual assault committed by a recruit directly to Whitewater police rather than a campus supervisor.  See, Former Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials.

Although the complaint names Telfer and Edmonds in an individual capacity, both are receiving a defense in this civil matter with state resources (and so at taxpayers’ expense).

Whitewater is a city with a median household income of $30,218, where 36.7% of all residents, 15.2% of all families, and 18.6% of all children live below the poverty level.  Telfer’s last publicly-paid salary before retirement was a reported $212,600.

I’ve promised to follow the case, and immediately below is a copy Telfer and Edmonds’s answer and Fader’s complaint.

Answer:

Download (PDF, 110KB)

Complaint:

Download (PDF, 6.78MB)

Marnocha’s Return

I posted last week that Randy Marnocha, formerly a UW-Whitewater administrator, is back as interim athletic director following the demotion of Amy Edmonds. See, from this website on 10.14.16, UW-Whitewater’s Interim Athletic Director.

The issue on campus is not simply whether this or that person will hold office, but whether the school will produce an administration that values the individual rights of students, coaches, and faculty more than it values the self-promotion of leading administrators.

Marnocha’s a choice best viewed cautiously. The university’s press release includes these remarks on his experience:

….Randy Marnocha is a familiar member of the Warhawk family. He served our campus for 27 years in various capacities, including 2006 until 2010 as Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs. He then took a position with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Department as associate director for business operations,” Chancellor Kopper said. “Randy has experience at one of the nation’s premier athletic departments, and I am pleased that he will bring his skill-base and knowledge to Warhawk Athletics….”

How Marnocha will do in his new & interim role I’ve no idea. Some of his past work in this city was spotty. It was Marnocha, along with then-City Manager Brunner, who wanted to form a joint university-municipal court (to keep more of the court fees with local, rather than county, authorities). See, from June 22, 2008, Joint court could be just the ticket @ GazetteXtra.

At the time, I let that discussion play out for months without much comment until September of that year, because there was no chance that a joint court of that kind was permissible under Wisconsin law. The oddity was that for months officials in the city and university went on with a city-university court proposal apparently without reading (or understanding) fundamental points of state law (that prohibited local creation of a hybrid court of the kind being proposed).

Finally, I wrote about the idea, after these proponents discovered, or were told, that their proposal was legally impermissible. See, from this website on September 4, 2008, Whitewater Common Council Meeting for 9/2: The Joint Court Proposal.

Marnocha was also a proponent of Whitewater’s Innovation Center. See, A City-University Technology Park in Whitewater.   Now that he’s back, perhaps he’ll use his formidable ‘skill-base’ to list the cost of the Innovation Center as against the number of actual, full-time jobs created (excluding jobs already existing at CESA 2, work-study jobs, internships, and university faculty already employed at public expense but affiliated with the Innovation Center).

Someone with “experience at one of the nation’s premier athletic departments” should be able to use a calculator, abacus, chalkboard, or pencil & paper to calculate the result in only minutes.

The failings here have been of addressing sexual assaults, over many years, and they’ve been severe.  Changing a person here or there is not enough.

I’ve written about local, official misconduct concerning sexual assault complaints for years; recent, national  political news is not the basis for my concern.  The conduct of self-aggrandizing and self-protective administrators in ignoring injury to some (thereby inflicting more injury through the denial of justice), and in causing reputational and related economic injury to others, is the basis for this concern.

It will take more than the shuffling of two chairs to overcome years of administrative misconduct.

UW-Whitewater’s Interim Athletic Director

UW-Whitewater has hired an interim athletic director to replace Amy Edmonds, who was recently demoted:

Effective Oct. 17, Randy Marnocha will begin serving as Interim Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Chancellor Beverly Kopper announced today. Amy Edmonds will return to her previous position as associate athletic director, and will assist with the transition.

“Randy Marnocha is a familiar member of the Warhawk family. He served our campus for 27 years in various capacities, including 2006 until 2010 as Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs. He then took a position with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Department as associate director for business operations,” Chancellor Kopper said. “Randy has experience at one of the nation’s premier athletic departments, and I am pleased that he will bring his skill-base and knowledge to Warhawk Athletics.”

A national search for a new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics will begin in the spring.

See, Interim Athletic Director named @ https://announcements.uww.edu/Details/12892.

One may have read local stories about Edmonds’s demotion, in which UW-Whitewater’s Media Relations Director Sara Kuhl has denied that the athletic leadership change had anything to do with a recent lawsuit against Edmonds and former Chancellor Telfer.

It’s an unverfiable denial, of course, and in any event reporters who are asking Kuhl if the demotion is a result of former coach Timothy Fader’s lawsuit only show how little they understand about the history of UW-Whitewater’s administrative handling of sexual assault complaints.

Coach Fader’s effective dismissal and subsequent lawsuit wasn’t a cause, but instead an effect, of a pattern of mishandling, ignoring, and obstructing assault complaints. See, as a category at this website, Assault Awareness & Prevention.

Asking a question about a single lawsuit isn’t adequate follow-up to a wider problem: it’s evidence of ignorance, laziness, or servility.

 

UW-Whitewater’s Amy Edmonds Out as Athletic Director

UW-Whitewater’s current Athletic Director, Amy Edmonds, is reportedly out as head of UW-Whitewater’s athletic programs.  The report notes that she’s being demoted to associate athletic director (at a significant cut in salary).

There’s no certainty that she would, in fact, remain in a subordinate role following the apppointment of an interim director, let alone a permanent one.

See, http://royalpurplenews.com/19898/news/athletic-director-to-be-replaced/.

Edmonds was appointed interim director, and later permanent athletic director, during then-Chancellor Richard Telfer’s tenure. Edmonds and Telfer are now co-defendants in a federal defamation lawsuit from former wrestling Coach Timothy Fader. See, Former Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials.

For more about Edmonds from FREE WHITEWATER, see, Coach Timothy Fader, Vindicated, Former Coach Fader Vindicated Five Times Over, Chancellor Telfer & UW-Whitewater Officials: Why Wait 147 Days?, and Questions on Assault Reporting, Formality, and Former UW-Whitewater Wrestling Coach Fader.

Preliminaries on Private Parties in Whitewater

Last night Common Council discussed, but took no formal legal action on, a possible ordinance to regulate large private parties in Whitewater. I wrote a bit about this yesterday (seeParadise is just one regulation away…).

City employees, along with others, will consider options, but took no other, formal action last night.

Some observations:

Few Big Events. There are very few large events in Whitewater, and even fewer that have created a disturbance. We’re a small town, and most of our events are relatively small, too.

Small Gatherings Added Up. Even large events are often, in fact, the combination of many smaller parties, rather than one private location’s festivities.

Ordinances as an Option. Not everyone in our government wants a new ordinance, but it’s worth nothing that (a) a university proposal was drafted under the assumption that there would be an ordinance, and (b) the first remarks on the matter from Whitewater’s assistant city manager comprised a list of cities that had ordinances regulating parties on private property.

One would be more comfortable with assertions that extra ordinances were not the first consideration of public officials if some of them did not make ordinances their first consideration.

One Swallow. If one swallow does not make a spring (it doesn’t, as swallows do not control the seasons), then it’s as fair to say that one bad event does not make an apocalypse.

There should, of course, be no public disturbances; still, we are a robust people who can weather present, and prevent future, disturbances.

Coordination. Spring Splash 2016 did go awry, but if the officials of this town & university cannot manage without yet another ordinance, I’m not sure why they’re being publicly paid. Millions for the city, hundreds of millions for the university, and enough university officials to staff the Pentagon – they’ve enough people to get this right without the crutch, the excuse, of needing more ordinances.

Why is a public man’s recourse often another public ordinance limiting private activity? This is a society of private property and private enterprise, and on them our prosperity rests.

Blaming His Own Students. One has heard, and Whitewater’s Chief Otterbacher repeated last night, that a main cause of the Spring Splash 2016 kerfuffle was too many out-of-city attendees (that is, non-student attendees).

I’ve no reason to doubt this contention. At the very least, it’s been repeated by officials and (because the Daily Union repeats officials) the Daily Union.

How odd, then, that in a Gazette story of 9.20.16, one reads that Matt Aschenbrener, UW-Whitewater assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and retention, contends that

many of the recommendations, including No. 4 [about large parties], are designed in part to teach students who are living off campus what it is like to be a good neighbor. Many of the students who go on to live off campus, he said, do not have experience having relationships with landlords, neighbors and the city.

See, Whitewater exploring possible regulations for large parties @ Gazette, subscription req’d.

Is Aschenbrener serious?

He’s describing the very students for whom he is responsible – for enrollment and retention – as though they were unacculturated, as though they were raised by wolves.

Does Aschenbrener believe that they didn’t have families that taught them – after eighteen or so years before arriving here – what it means to be a good neighbor?

I don’t believe that, and I never will.

Does he believe – contrary to what Otterbacher and others have said for months – that the problem has been local students and not out-of-town visitors?

I don’t believe that, either.

If the university were filled with students who didn’t know what it meant to be good neighbors, then neither the university nor the city would be able to function, even for a day. Life here each day does go on without problems like Spring Splash 2016.

These students are, in fact, people who already know what it means to be good neighbors. The continuing functioning of the community proves as much.

Even if Aschenbrener were right – he’s not – one wonders whose problem this is. He’s the ‘assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and retention.’ If the students arriving here are not up to snuff, wouldn’t that be evidence of failure from the administrator responsible for enrolling and retaining students?

Aschenbrener arrived here years ago, taking office on June 1, 2011. Although he may blame (unfairly) the students his university has enrolled over these last 1,939 days, the real fault would be his, as assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and retention, not theirs.

Good students, a good faculty, but a weak administration that lags behind the abilities of its students & faculty, and in this case blames those for whom it is responsible.

We’ll see more about how the city and university address the rare occurrence of large events; there will be more to come.

Paradise is just one regulation away…

Whitewater’s had a problem with occasional crowds, as at Spring Splash, and so now a few from the Old Guard are sure that yet another regulation on private property will bring a city of order, harmony, and smiling-faced residents.

They’re confident it’s the answer, relying on the old adage that the twelve thousand, four hundred, seventy-third time is the charm.

There are remarks in a local paper today from a university administrator, but I’ll leave them aside to see if anyone subsequently speaking on behalf of the university administration recognizes how telling – in an unfortunate way – they are.  

Honest to goodness.

There will be more to say after one hears more. 

The Sketchy – But Revealing – UW-Whitewater Dormitory Stories 

The big UW-Whitewater story last week wasn’t about a dormitory, but about a lawsuit against former Chancellor Telfer and current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds

The dormitory stories are at best evidence of administrative incompetence, at worst evidence of a manipulated story (albeit ham-handedly).  They also, ironically, offer a dark motivation for the repeated actions of UW-Whitewater officials concerning sexual assault reporting. 

Background.  On Sunday evening, 8.21, the Journal Sentinel published a story about how UW-Whitewater dorm limbo could crimp recruitment. I posted on the story the next day, noting that even by the story’s own terms, the key issue wasn’t a dorm, but the influx of out-of-state students from Illinois. SeeDorm-Construction Isn’t the Big Story.

Five days later, on Friday evening, the Journal posted a follow-up to the dormitory story.  SeeUW-Whitewater dorm back on track.

Turns out, the Journal story was stale even before the first installment on 8.21:

Gov. Scott Walker signed the final contract to hire an architect/engineering firm for the UW-Whitewater residence hall the same day the project was singled out by the regents during their [August 18th] meeting in Madison. The project was working its way through the pipeline in a normal progression, according to Steve Michels, communications director for the state Department of Administration….

UW officials weren’t notified that the governor had signed the contract until Tuesday [8.23], the day after a story about the project delay appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

(In fact, the story appeared online on 8.21, but either way the dorm had been approved before reporter Herzog published a word of her story.)

A few observations:

Convenient, coincidental. How convenient it must have been, on the same day that news broke of a lawsuit against UW-Whitewater, that an unrelated  (and actually resolved) issue was available to divert attention from a more important matter.

The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Wisconsin on 8.18 – university officials surely knew of it before reporter Karen Herzog’s story appeared online or in print.

Incompetent. Honest to goodness, could Herzog not have called to ask the status of the dorm before writing her first story? That first story makes no mention of any attempt to call any state officials. 

The story seems to rely completely and totally on the account of Jeff Arnold, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs at UW-Whitewater

Either Herzog was negligent to omit reference of a call to the state, was negligent not to call the state, or was a dupe in a UW-Whitewater effort to push a non-issue (dorm already approved) over an ongoing, serious one (federal lawsuits and federal Title IX investigations). 

Ineffectual. Since the dorm had already been approved, what does that say about the Vice Chancellor Arnold’s competence or influence that supposedly (1) he didn’t know and (2) nobody bothered to tell him promptly?

Ineffectual, Part 2. All litigation is uncertain. I’ve no idea how either the lawsuit or Title IX administrative claims will develop.

I do know that both stories are now national ones,  and that local efforts to shift the subject are futile (both because the stories have spread too far and because the university’s Media Relations staff are incapable of effectively spinning these accounts against an accurate telling in reply).

Motivation.  Whether Arnold’s fuss over a dorm that had already been approved was from his own incompetence or as a public relations diversion, it’s revealing in a deeper way.

Astonishingly, in the first story, reporter Herzog unintentionally supplies a motivation for the university’s actions to ignore or shove aside those who spoke of sexual assaults on campus: the university was under competitive, financial pressure to recruit out-of-state students.  

Here, from Herzog’s first story:

Since 2009, the school has doubled admissions applications and enrollment of Illinois students. Illinois residents made up 9% of the freshman class in 2009; now they are about 16% of the freshman class, with the largest number coming from McHenry and Lake counties.

Wisconsin resident enrollment is holding steady, according to school officials.

Not having enough housing may work against recruiting efforts in Illinois.

“The lack of housing is constraining our growth,” Arnold said. “It’s our feeling we’re losing students because of our inability to provide housing. Our freshman classes have been capped due to our housing.”

If Arnold thinks that lack of housing will constrain growth, imagine what repeated stories of sexual assualt on campus would do to those same recruitment efforts.

The pressure and push for out-of state-students, from 2009 to 2014, coincides with the clear majority of Richard Telfer’s tenure as chancellor.

Herzog’s first story, one that that Arnold seems to have spoon-fed to her, offers a dark, specific, numerical motivation to suppress assault reporting. 

One could have surmised as much without the story, to be sure, but if the story should be a public-relations inspiration, it’s an especially poor one. 

Expressing public concern over recruiting at the same time students and a former employee are filing complaints about mishandled sexual assault cases, unjust termination, and retaliation is particularly dense. 

More to come. 

Coach Fader Appears on ESPN’s Outside the Lines

 

On Friday, former UW-Whitewater Coach Timothy Fader appeared on ESPN’s nationally-broadcast Outside the Lines, to describe the treatment that led him to file a federal lawsuit against former Chancellor Telfer and current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds. See, Coach fired for reporting sexual assault.

UW-Whitewater officials declined to appear on the program, but issued a statement that anchor Bob Ley read on the air. (The UW-Whitewater statement professes concern for assault survivors but declines to mention that two assault survivors have filed federal Title IX complaints against UW-Whitewater for failing to address their grievances properly as the law requires.)

Channel 3000 first reported on the lawsuit last Monday. This website posted on the lawsuit and story that same day, and included a copy of the federal lawsuit for readers (pdf).

For more on the story, see from Channel 3000 (WISC-TV), Former UW-Whitewater coach tells story to national audience. For prior posts from FREE WHITEWATER, see posts about Coach Fader and UW-Whitewater officials’ conduct.

Long Miles Ahead

I posted yesterday on the federal lawsuit filed against former Chancellor Richard Telfer and current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds.  SeeFormer Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials.

One should not expect a quick resolution to the many issues the lawsuit raises, of mistreatment of honest employees & disregard for assault survivors. On the contrary, in a matter like this there are likely to be tactics of  (1) silence, (2) changing the subject,  (3) lying, (4) blaming terminated employees and assault survivors, and (5) self-serving but unethical insistence that injury to a few served a higher institutional purpose.

We’re nowhere near the end of all this. A federal lawsuit, and a federal investigation into Title IX handling of sexual assault complaints, is a consequence of, but not a certain cure for, the grievances asserted.

There is much yet ahead. 

Former Coach Fader Files Federal Lawsuit Against UW-Whitewater Officials

At Channel 3000, investigative reporter Adam Schrager reports on a federal lawsuit that former Coach Timothy Fader has filed against UW-Whitewater officials, in their individual capacities. (I had promised readers that I would continue to follow this story, and will continue to do so as the case unfolds.)

Both current Athletic Director Amy Edmonds and former Chancellor Richard Telfer are named defendants:

The lawsuit asserts that Fader was not renewed as the school’s wrestling coach in the summer of 2014 because he immediately reported an alleged sexual assault committed by one of his recruits directly to Whitewater police and not to his supervisors on campus, per university policy. After that, Fader alleges an official at a college in Minnesota called Edmonds for a job reference but was told that she could not “tell him the whole story,” creating “even more mystery and (implying) additional but unreported misconduct on Fader’s part,” according to the lawsuit.

Fader also makes the claim that there are no records of an earlier sexual assault he had reported to university officials. UW-Whitewater is facing two Title IX complaints filed with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Education in the last two years. Title IX legislation was passed by Congress in 1972 to prohibit discrimination by gender in federally-funded education programs.

See, Former UW-Whitewater wrestling coach files lawsuit : AD, former chancellor named as defendants @ Channel 3000.

See, additionally, prior posts about Coach Fader and UW-Whitewater officials’ conduct.

More to come.

Below is an embedded copy of the federal complaint:


Download (PDF, 6.78MB)

Dorm-Construction Isn’t the Big Story

Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel has a story about delayed dorm construction at UW-Whitewater. At least, that’s how she’s framed the story, how many will understand the story, and how both UW-Whitewater and Herzog would, no doubt, like readers to understand the story.

Here’s what’s more significant even than the need for additional sleeping space:

This year’s freshman class is expected to be near record in size, boosted by students from nearby Illinois who have been successfully courted in part because the nonresident cost of attending UW-Whitewater is about what those students would pay to attend college in their own state.

UW-Whitewater is about 25 miles from the Illinois border as the crow flies.

Since 2009, the school has doubled admissions applications and enrollment of Illinois students. Illinois residents made up 9% of the freshman class in 2009; now they are about 16% of the freshman class, with the largest number coming from McHenry and Lake counties.

See, UW-Whitewater dorm limbo could crimp recruitment @ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

I don’t think a large out-of-state group is intrinsically good or bad – it is, however, significant.

The composition of the class matters, and if sustained will influence the development of both the university and the city.

Grocery Preliminaries (Part 2)

I wrote yesterday about a grocery in town, in a post entitled, Grocery Preliminaries.  The post’s subject line used the word ‘preliminaries’ because it seems likely that Whitewater will get a new grocery, whatever one thinks of a public subsidy to entice one.  

In this way, that post presumed a deal, and so was meant to be preliminary to one.

(Needless to say, whatever the challenges of subsidizing a grocery, it’s noting like importing trash into the city as a get-revenue-quick scheme.  Waste importation is a truly bad idea, destructive to the environment, health, and development of the city.)

One of the conditions for a new grocery at the old Sentry location is that the university’s interest in the property  (as a term of art and a general desire for expansion) be satisfied.  

It’s worth noting that unpublished discussion of UW-Whitewater’s interest in the property has percolated through parts of the community for months; it’s not new information for everyone.  

This only reinforces, however, the point from an earlier post, Informed Residents, about the need for open government.

This morning, many residents are sure to be surprised  (‘the university has a connection to this property?’) and a few will be frustrated  (‘why didn’t we know?’ & ‘is the university standing in the way of a deal?’).

These are merely elements of a transaction, and they could have been disclosed sooner.  This community needs neither confusion about a project nor frustration with the university over it. 

I know that open government seems soft and starry to some, but it’s neither. Open government is both a principled (as a right) and a prudent (as a practical) approach.  It’s not in opposition to realism, but rather a higher expression of realism, embodying as it does the recognition that information typically wills out, at a higher price for the delay.

I’m sure we will get a grocery, and almost certainly with a public subsidy. That’s not what I’d advocate, but the proposal has obvious support. 

We could (and can) have one, however, more smoothly than this. 

Two States of Mind in Whitewater

There’s an easy way to see two different states of mind in Whitewater. 

Draft a list of eleven people for an athletic honor.  Make nine of the honorees athletes or coaches, and two of them an administrator and his spouse. 

Now, watch and see which people receive the most prominent attention. 
Some will pick one of the athletes or coaches, on the theory that it’s an athletic award.

By contrast, some will pick the administrator and his spouse, on the theory that a well-placed bureaucrat will always matter more than those who actually competed.

(In any event, whatever this second option may be, as an exercise in political rehabilitation it’s an impossibility.)

There we have the choices and states of mind in present-day Whitewater, although I’d doubt that some would even guess that choosing was possible.

The City Never Sleeps

In the broadest, figurative sense, Whitewater never sleeps.  Like any other place, she’s constantly changing, either to her benefit or detriment, but changing nonetheless.  (It’s only the parochial myth that she’s already achieved a level of perfection that obscures the obvious truth of constant flux.)

Glance away, for one day or forty, and when one looks back there’s something new.  That is, all in all, a good thing: stagnation would be a worse condition. Change offers hope for better.

So much lies ahead: a school district’s search for an administrator, its funding of construction and operational expenses, a university’s budget and her cultural relations on and off campus, and a municipal government where the budgetary is too easily  (and unwisely) conflated with the community’s economy, as though they were the same things.

All these topics, of course, are few and slight compared with the full measure of conditions within the city; what passes for principal concerns is only a fraction of what truly matters.

Nonetheless, even these few topics offer much to consider.  They are an invitation to do one’s best, impartially, approaching them with the perspective of distance, detachment, and diligence they deserve.

There’s much ahead, waiting to be done. 

Tenure

33cscreenshotPost 10 in a weekly series.

The UW System Board of Regents recently adopted a tenure policy, about which much has been said statewide. How it will change day-to-day prospects for faculty I’ve no idea. The UW System changes from March 10th are only part of a process in which local campuses will have their own tenure policies reviewed at the board level. (UW-Madison adopted its own tenure policies in November, for example.)

This is, no doubt, an important topic on campus, but I am uncertain how much these changes have occupied residents not connected to campus. I’d guess Whitewater (the whole city, adding in surrounding towns) is too fragmented for there to be a common view. That’s true of many topics – we’ve passed the point of being one politically or even culturally unified place (if ever we were). There’s still a lingering desire to think and speak about Whitewater as one place, but that’s really only true as one geographical place. That’s not because the university isn’t relatively large; it’s because residents aren’t sufficiently alike to see and view the issue the same way, with the same intensity. Attention and interests differ significantly.

A webcast of the meeting is online, along with supporting written materials.

THE EDUCATION POST: Tuesdays @ 10 AM, here on FREE WHITEWATER.

‘A Trust Betrayed’: The Update on the Title IX Claims Against UW-Whitewater

Over at the Gazette, above the fold, there’s a frontpage story about Ms. Raechel Liska, an honors graduate of UW-Whitewater, and her Title IX claim against UW-Whitewater for failing to  address properly her sexual assault complaint. The story refers also to an earlier Title IX complaint against the school (the two complaints are now joined administratively), and the account of a
third student that corroborates the experiences of the two Title IX complainants.

See, from Andrea Anderson, A Trust Betrayed, http://www.gazettextra.com/20160227/former_uw_w_student_stands_up_for_more_awareness_around_sexual_assault (subscription req’d).

Ms. Anderson’s story publishes significant new information about the claims, and more detail about what’s already been published.

The story reveals that there are at least three, not two, women who allege the same administrative misconduct and concealment. Two of those women have filed Title IX complaints, and a third submitted a supporting statement:

20160228“Liska has encouraged at least one other student to come forward and submit supplemental testimony to be attached to Liska’s Title IX claim.

Sarah, a senior at UW-W who agreed to let The Gazette use her first name, learned about Liska through the media. In her testimony, Sarah wrote she experienced a similar response as Liska from UW-W after reporting she was sexually assaulted by another student.

Sarah claims Mackin did not inform her of her Title IX rights and felt as if Mackin “talked down” to her and “never addressed the actual problem that I was having: I was abused by another UW-Whitewater student and I was terrified,” according to the testimony.

UW-W police talked to the accused, but Sarah still felt the university was minimizing her fears of retaliation from the man, Sarah wrote.

Sarah could not file her own Title IX complaint because the deadline had passed, Held said. Sarah was given the option to add testimony to Liska’s claim and did so to help push for improvement in UW-W’s response to sexual assault victims.

It was “distressing to realize that, after talking to Raechel about her interactions with the school, I wasn’t alone in this treatment. It made me want to change the way the University deals with cases like mine and Raechel’s,” Sarah said in her testimony.”

Most of these cases are resolved administratively, and that’s the goal of the claimants here. How this will be resolved, of course, I do not know; successful resolutions need good terms and a sincere effort to carry them out.

I’ve no connection whatever to these claimants or their lawyers. That’s both by nature and design – having seen more than one tragedy in this small & beautiful, but sometimes troubled city, I simply don’t believe, for politics or policy, in close.  On the contrary, it’s distance that makes one’s work, as an ongoing chronicle, possible.

I would hope that these claimants, as people with unique hopes and aspirations, find whatever measure of remedy they are seeking, so fully and completely as possible.

See, also, other posts that are part of a category on Assault Awareness and Prevention dedicated to this topic.

A Theory About the Diverging Futures of the Whitewater Schools and UW-Whitewater

33cscreenshotPost 7 in a weekly series.

Before I begin today’s post, I’ll mention that there is now an announcement at the Whitewater Unified School District’s webpage about academic success at one of our schools despite economic hardship. It’s a prominent mention, and that’s a good decision – we should lead with what we have truly done. For more on this topic, see Whitewater’s True and Worthy Success.

For today, it’s a working thesis of sorts, that came to me after a conversation with an education policymaker in Madison. It goes like this. While there are concerns about funding education at both the public school K12 and university levels, these programs would face markedly different futures if spending cuts continue.

Although local school districts must by law offer a minimum core of courses, and by law a core of the same courses as other school districts, that’s not true at UW System schools, where one could by restructuring treat the UW System (or much of it) as a single entity, and allocate previously-considered vital subjects between parts of the System. Over time, UW System schools would look less like separate, comprehensive universities and more like unique branches of a larger tree.

That’s not possible for K12 education. No one could offer science in Whitewater, with the expectation that students would take language arts in Fort Atkinson, and calculus in Jefferson.

One could, by contrast, divide subjects between System schools (far more than is true today).

My point is not that this would be desirable, but that it would be possible. It would mean that our comprehensive universities would be less comprehensive, so to speak. (In fact, the risks to a school like UW-Whitewater – and our city – might be considerable.) Cuts within (public schools) and cuts within, but presented as across (branches of a university system), would have a different character in description and impact.

In one case labor would (mostly notably) face layoffs, in the other wage stagnation.

We are not yet at the point of divergent futures, within a common, low-funding environment. We could be on our way, though, by the end of the decade.

I don’t know; I’m persuaded after my conversation that it’s at least one possible shape of things to come.

THE EDUCATION POST: Tuesdays @ 10 AM, here on FREE WHITEWATER.

12 Points on the Claims of Racial Incidents at UW-Whitewater

I posted yesterday about a statement from UW-Whitewater’s Chancellor Kopper about allegations of racial incidents on our campus.  Kopper later walked back one of her concerns, about two students appearing in blackface in a photo (they claim they were just showing the results of a mud-pack facial).  SeeThe Claims of Ongoing Incidents on Campus (Updates).

A few remarks:

  1.  I think Chancellor Kopper wanted to do right by students who came to her with multiple grievances, not merely concerns about one photograph.
  2. I’ve embedded a clip from TMJ4.  Kopper was right to go on television; the story is a mixed outcome, but out front is better than out back.
  3.  Kopper must see that pulling back on her claim about the photo will be used – of course – to undermine concerns of many students over multiple incidents.
  4. On cue, Sen. Nass and Chief of Staff Mikalsen have seized on Kopper’s retraction of claims about the photo as evidence of her poor judgment.  By mid-afternoon yesterday, they had already contacted every media friend they have with a press release ridiculing an “over-reaction of Chancellor Beverly Kopper and other UW-Whitewater administrators without first checking the facts of the situation is a stark example of how political correctness has warped the mindset of highly educated university administrators. Frankly, these are the people responsible for educating our sons and daughters, but they seem incapable of applying reason or common sense.”  Sen. Nass and Mr. Mikalsen were born for press releases like this.
  5. Did Kopper over-react?  I don’t think so.  Her statement was about more than one episode.
  6. What process did Kopper use to determine the credibility of those in the photograph?
  7. Did Chancellor Kopper receive communications either from System officials or anyone on their behalf asking her to retract her claim about the photograph?
  8. Does anyone think that the UW System as now constituted would allow a chancellor to speak on these incidents independent of the veto of System VP Jim Villa (or those to whom he is attentive)?  If he wanted a particular determination, who doubts that he would get his way?
  9.  Sen. Nass thinks that Kopper used poor judgment when she saw the photo as racist, but somehow he accepts her judgment later that it wasn’t.  What, if anything, does Sen. Nass know about how she made her determination initially and subsequently?  Other than her statements, on what does Sen. Nass rely when assessing – himself, directly – the photograph?  Did he talk to anyone involved?
  10. The UW System is more centralized than ever.  Kopper cannot rely on local notables, or the staff her predecessor put together, to manage easily in that environment.  I’ve been critical of Sara Kuhl, and here’s another reason why: unless one intends to achieve nothing, Ms. Kuhl can’t get Chancellor Kopper through.  Beverly Kopper’s initial statement was sincere, but it doesn’t say much to say that it should – and could – have been crafted skillfully to inoculate against any individual error, while preserving the comprehensive meaning.  Look how easily Sen. Nass latched onto it, and once having latched onto a part, was able to push out a press release of his own.
  11. Unlike a politician or a blogger, UW-Whitewater’s chancellor is more constrained in commentary.  Others can go round after round, but an organizational hierarchy makes that more difficult for a local campus official.
  12. Chancellor Kopper’s success is not – needless to say – this blogger’s responsibility.  If she does what her predecessor did, after all, the school will go on.  If she follows that path, however, she will preside over a campus in comparative decline.  Say nothing except what’s already been said (no problems, all is well, etc.) and nothing will be achieved.  (Telfer left UW-Whitewater with huge liabilities that will grow more evident in the next year or two.)  That’s bad for Whitewater (and so of concern to the many of us who care about Whitewater).  The System, however, has other schools, and less need to worry over the fate of the one in our town.