One of my tasks this year is to be secretary to a legal beagle sort of committee, so today I went to the legal meeting. It's amusing to see a bunch of pretty smart folks with absolutely no clue trying to learn stuff. Or not.
I vaguely remember hearing a George Carlin bit a long time ago, where he was talking about going to Catholic school and testing out what some priest had to say about some problem in Catholic practice. There was a part about how you were supposed to go to confession before going to mass at Easter, but then what if you were dying, but then you recovered, but it was already 12:01, but then blah blah, and so forth, all these impossibly complicated "what ifs" ending with the final complication of crossing the international date line, what then, Father? (Found a transcript, anyway!)
That's how I felt about some of the questions. Yes, it's important to consider contingencies and difficult situations, but what if there's a flood on the day you're supposed to hold the meeting, and you can't get to campus, but then a boat comes by, and some people can get to campus, can you still vote on the issue?
On the other hand, some of these questions just seem to come from an expectation that there's bad will on the part of colleagues. Maybe that's so. I have colleagues (a few) I don't trust greatly, but not necessarily because I think they have bad will or intentions. Maybe I shouldn't trust them nearly as much as I do? Probably so.
A lot of the meeting was about trying not to get sued or whatever. I know it's important to try not to get sued, but more important is to try to act ethically and honestly, to work for justice and do what's right. If I do that and get sued, well, I guess I'd change my mind, wouldn't I?
This is yet another reason why I'd make a bad lawyer or administrator. I used to belong to an on-line community whose only real rule was along the lines of "don't be a dink," and mostly that worked pretty well, though not entirely. I think it's a pretty good general rule, though.
The meeting was important, because it's important to do this work as fairly and well as possible, but also irritating.
The convener likes to repeat things at an increasing volume. I made the mistake of not sitting in the very back of the room. Irritating. REALLY IRRITATING! His voice sounded more and more irritated as he got louder, so it wasn't just the volume, it was the irritation in there. I'm glad I'm not his kid, because I had plenty of irritation voiced at me when I was a kid, and it wasn't great fun.
Weirdly, he took a phone call during the middle of saying something. I don't know that it was a real phone call, though. He said it was a call from the person who'd formerly held that job, a person who has gone elsewhere for a new position higher up in administrationland. And that's what our side of the conversation sounded like. But seriously, who doesn't have the sense to turn off his phone when heading in to lead an important meeting?
And the person who left for the new position? While he was here, everyone but everyone in adminstrationland was licking his boots. Now, I'm hearing a lot of nasty little jabs about him from those same folks. It's not really inspiring me with great trust in the folks who are here, you know? (And I'm not saying he was wonderful; I don't know, really. It's the total attitude shift I'm thinking of.)
The meeting lasted three and a half hours, and yet the administrator only got through three quarters of the slides he'd prepared.
Administrative meeting fail.