Saturday, April 05, 2008

Volunteers Yet Again

One of the more fascination ploys of the upper classes is the volunteer “move.” That is, no matter how much they want something, when they get it, it was a result of their charitable instincts. Once I described asking a committee of law professors in a meeting who “wanted” to go to a out of town meeting. Not one person “wanted to.” Within days every person on the committee contacted me privately to say he or she was “willing to go.” And then when I announced I had too many people who wanted to go, I was quickly corrected. Yet each one insisted on going.

It is pervasive. I was in a meeting a few days ago when one faculty member described how he did not want to hold an administrative post, a position now held by that person with an iron grip with no signs of change. And, a past Interim Dean was described as being forced to be Interim dean and, as you would expect, the faculty nearly had to use a fork lift to get him out of the office.

My favorite recent one involves the director of a set of programs that involve traveling to interesting places. When I asked to go, I was told that he had already “volunteered” to do it.

What’s up with this. Do these people learn this in law school or at their parents’ knees? It is all part of life is a negotiation and you never appear to want something because, if you get it, you should not ask for more. And privileged people always want more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While you are probably a 100% correct when the issue involves out of town meetings and such, which could lead to free trips, you might be wrong about the interim dean and the faculty member with the administrative post. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, they could have just changed their minds once they started to do it and either realized they liked the job (or power and influence or something else I'm not thinking of). I've had that happen a few times to me, where I was sure I would hate something before I did it. Then I somehow got sucked into or forced into doing it and to my surprise I actually found I enjoyed it.
The other reason I would think these were different than the trip examples were that they were talking about resisting in public and the volunteering in private. That is significantly different then resisting then being forced into it anyways and then not giving it up. One is about not showing your hand and your true feelings towards something. The other seems entirely different to me.
But then again I could wrong. Maybe I just like to think people (even lawyers and law professors) are generally good. How naive must I be?