Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Protecting the Untouchables

I do not intend to equate law school administrators with the Tallahassee Police Department or the FSU administration as reported in this article  nor to equate law faculty with football players but there is a similar pattern -- protect or turn a blind eye to what I will refer to as the "untouchables." The untouchables fall into two categories: "yes" people and people who can make a credible threat to sue the administration or, at least, destroy its reputation.

I will list a few instances of things untouchables can do that draw little or no response. While the touchables can do very little and be called in for questioning.
1. The director of a program that is required to list its costs and benefits leaves out $25,000 of the cost. 
2. A faculty member or administrator posts a announcement for a job opening for a job that does not exist.
3. In a faculty meeting one faculty member refers to two others as "insane." 
4. A faculty member on the appointments committee misrepresents the reviews of a candidate as all favorable when they were not.
5. A faculty member copies entire books.
6. A faculty member uses independent study  credits to, in effect, hire students as research assistants. The independent study is largely running errands and tracing down materials for the teacher.
7. Students are given externship credit for summer appointments where the so called supervisors do not know who they are or what they are doing.
8. Faculty members publicly state unlawful reasons for favoring or disfavoring a candidate. 
9. A faculty member misses blocks of classes that are not made up.

How long to do you want the list? It could no on and on. 

What accounts for this? Why are some faculty untouchable while others can be brought in for questioning?  In the case of the football player it was either incompetence or a sense that even investigating carefully would be politically unacceptable.

On law faculties, it's a bit different. The reason for the special  treatment of the "I will sue you" people is obvious. What about the others? Here is my theory and it is only that. The untouchables seem to have a few common characteristics.
1. They are from elite backgrounds.
2. They are part of "groups" or over lapping "groups" in that if one were sanctioned the others might be upset.
3. The are masters of facial but not substantive collegiality.
4. They are secretive.
5. Most important, they never ever question authority. This seems to be the crux of the informal contract between administrators and the the untouchables. If you never question authority nothing else you do matters no matter how deceptive, unfair, or damaging to the welfare of the students. 

The result is similar to that of the football player but the reasons are different. In fact, the football player would be closer to faculty if he were cut some slack because he is an informant. 

The untouchables are comparable to informants in that they have an informal understanding with administrators that they will follow orders and never question authority as long as there is reciprocity in the form of peachy assignments and freedom from scrutiny. You do not want to be in a fox hole with any of these people. 

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