Why tear apart a community? For what?

Western Illinois University’s current administration is using (abusing?) its power to attempt to crush the union and crush people like me who’ve been members of this community for decades–much longer than they have anyway.  They will bring their attack to the geographical heart of McDonough County:  the courthouse.

The administration has hired yet another law firm– this time, to file a motion with the McDonough County Circuit Court to  block my arbitration hearing that is scheduled for Tuesday, January, 16, and to rescind the subpoenas for administrators to testify at the hearing.

The hearing at the Court House, to block the hearing for next week, is scheduled for this Friday at 2:30.  The university must believe that they will “lose” next week’s hearing and be forced to correct their contractual violations.  Why else would they risk the embarrassing press attention and the ill-will that they are generating with a dramatic court hearing?  Do they care about low morale among faculty and the community?

This time, the administration chose a local firm, Flack, McCraven, Stevens . . . .  At least these attorney fees will benefit Macomb’s economy.

As my readers know, Macomb is a very small and interconnected community.  I’ve known people at this law firm since they hung out with my brother Chad in the early 1990s.  I am connected to them through other close relatives as well.  We have known each other’s families for decades.

The University’s decision to hire these community attorneys is divisive and disappointing.

Why tear apart a community?  For what?  What is more important than our shared history?

Maybe the current administration wants to distract folks away from its failures:  the Thomas administration has allowed enrollment to drop 25%–this is THREE times greater than that of other Illinois public universities during the same time period.  The Faculty Senate is meticulously following the enrollment decline.

The Thomas administration has damaged WIU’s reputation by laying off tenured faculty and belittling all WIU faculty in front of the media.  They have pushed women and people of color further into the margins of the professorate and curriculum.  All of this is embarrassing.

So, we have an administration that both tears apart the community and fails to keep up the enrollment rate with other Illinois universities.  How dismally do they have to fail before we see a change?

I don’t know what will happen Friday, but I don’t have any illusions about my relative powerlessness.  What I do have is an appreciation for telling the truth even when it is risky.  I value truth for truth’s sake.  I learned that in church.  And from my WIU professors in the 80s.  Fortunately, the UPI and a handful of faculty senators also value the truth for the truth’s sake.

The University is fighting against the truth (they failed to correct contractual violations) and their move to hire a local firm to fight against its own community is desperate and sad.


The hearing to block my arbitration hearing that is scheduled for Friday, January 12, at 2:30.  P.S.  Tom Sadler and I met on these Court House grounds in 1987.



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