Anonymous article.

Position:University staff-faculty relationship

Why is this article anonymous? Because staff members don't have the same protections you have.

They call it rankism. It's an apt term to describe the class relations between university staff members and their faculty "colleagues." When a senior administrator heard that staff were complaining about rankism, he added "staff relations" to the agenda of his monthly meeting with the department chairs. At the meeting, he proclaimed his shock that such a word as "rankism" would even be used. It was one of those familiar Casablanca moments--"I'm shocked, shocked, Rick that there's gambling going on." When the administrator proposed calling in an outside consultant to work on sensitivity training with faculty, someone suggested that he and faculty members might instead attend a meeting called by staff to listen to their concerns. He responded with baffled silence.

To explore the issue of staff-faculty relationships, Academe asked a senior professor, long sympathetic to the need for a working-class perspective in the academy, to write an article for the magazine. From the start, it was clear to her that the article could not be honestly written without staff voices and perspectives. The collaborative (and, necessarily, anonymous) writing that follows stems from meetings between a salaried senior staff member, an hourly staff assistant, and the listening professor.

The two staff members were enthusiastic about the project, especially as the first staff meeting of the 2005-06 academic year had ended with an impromptu, heated, and tense discussion about rankism on campus. Over the next few months, the faculty member and the two staff members talked several times. In some of the discussion, the three explored their own individual experiences at the university; in others, they tried to figure out how best to proceed with the project and to integrate multiple staff voices.

In order to privilege the views of staff, we divided these conversation into four parts. The first three sections were written by each of the three primary participants. The fourth is a summary of a discussion at a staff meeting in which staff members were told about the article and given the opportunity to contribute thoughts and experiences.

A Senior Staff Member

As a senior staff member in a high-level, salaried position, I would like to share my thoughts about staff-faculty relationships. I find these relationships to be very strained or nonexistent because of efforts by faculty members and administrators to control staff or "keep them in their place." I am happy to say that there are exceptions, too. Over the twenty-plus years that I have worked in academia, I...

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