Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Out with the In Crowd

I was at a meeting yesterday wherein the Slogan Committee explained that they'd worked really hard and deserved for their slogan to be accepted. It wasn't.

But as the discussion went on, I began to wonder why this committee was the Slogan Committee. Later, in another meeting, I learned a little more about the committee because there was discussion about appointments for the coming year.

So this morning, walking in from the parking lot, I asked one of my colleagues who'd been at the Slogan meeting what s/he knew about the committee. Nothing, it turns out.

It's like there's this whole world of special appointed folks who all know each other and all know what's with what, and who's who, but they don't realize that most of us (using only my colleague from the parking lot and I as a sample) don't have the same easy familiarity.

I don't think my lack of knowledge comes from a lack of interest. I've served on this big committee, and on sub-committees for four years now.

Unfortunately, the slogan committee was made up of people appointed for their skills in one arena, and that arena is far from writing or communication. So when they talked about how hard they'd worked, they sounded like a student who comes to you after getting a C on a revision and says that s/he made all the corrections you told him/her to, and why didn't they get an A? They looked at all your comments and made corrections!

Like that student, they tinkered with individual words rather than re-vising in terms of seeing the problem anew or rethinking. They couldn't put aside the slogan they'd formed through hard work to think about how poorly it worked. It was like the famous saying that a camel is a horse made by committee.

And that, writ large, pretty much says a lot about how NWU works: there's a committee, and it gets set in its ways and ideas, and can't revise, and its members get replaced only by people who've shown they fit in so well that they won't ask embarrassing questions.

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