Up until the last ten years or so, most colleges and universities left their faculty members alone, provided that they did the work expected of them. Until suddenly, that wasn’t enough –administrators began to insist that they go through various “training” sessions to help guard against bad thoughts and conduct.
What does it entail? In this post by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, we learn a little about it.
Volokh is writing about an email exchange with another professor, about the latter’s experience with mandatory “training.” One question asked how often people make false accusations of sexual misconduct and when the professor answered “sometimes,” he was informed that his answer was wrong and he would have to try again. The right answer, it turns out, is “rarely.”
Now universities, like other employers, are entitled to require their employees to go through training on various procedures, whether having to do with safety, financial transactions, legal compliance, or managerial obligations. And they are entitled to test the employees to make sure that they are aware of the rules.
But especially in a university, which rightly protects—and indeed demands—intellectual independence and honesty in its faculty, such questions shouldn’t require faculty members to give answers that they credibly think are wrong; nor should they turn on vague terms such as “sometimes” or “rarely.” (Indeed, the question would be a bad multiple choice question in virtually any context, precisely because “sometimes” and “rarely” are undefined, even in an approximate sense.)
Quite right. And after the professor complained about this to his university, it seems to have asked the provider of this “training” to modify it.
Okay, but why not do away with this nonsense entirely? It wastes the time of faculty members and wastes money in paying the company that provides the training modules All we have here is make-work to appease the burgeoning ranks of diversity administrators. Those hangers-on need to look busy and important, so they drum up useless training and a host of other pointless events and programs.
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