Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Week O' Whinin' 2010 continues: What un-fresh hell is this?
Yesterday morning just before 10:00, I noticed a nasty smell as I opened the door to my classroom. I teach in room G-207 and in front of the door of G-209 was a fresh pile of human excrement, strategically placed so it would be smeared when the people inside the classroom opened the door to get out. Laney College is one block away from Lake Merritt BART and there is a large contingent of homeless people there, and I have had enough encounters with them to know that some of them have serious mental and emotional problems. I assume it was one of them that left the present for our students and my colleague teaching in the room about five paces from mine.
I went across the courtyard to the Math Lab, G-201, to ask the faculty on duty to call custodial services. He told me they had already been alerted, and within the hour they were on the scene, doing the unpleasant but necessary work of cleaning up after crazy people on this campus.
It was near the time of the break in my first class, and some of my students sitting near the right wall were milling about. In a completely separate incident, we had an ant infestation in my classroom. I am at least partially responsible for this, as I have not been enforcing the no food rule as stringently as I should, and several of the football players in my noon statistics class eat sunflower seeds and don't clean up after themselves.
I caught up with the custodial crew who had finished cleaning up the outside mess to tell them about the mess in my room. They weren't sure who on campus would be in charge of killing ants.
Budget cuts are hurting all the campuses, but none is worse than Laney. We can blame crazy people for the nastiest part of yesterday's news, but the graffiti and torn up bathroom closed for weeks at a time come from students who just don't care about others and a custodial and maintenance staff that is undermanned. Our last chancellor Elihu Harris is a former mayor of Oakland, now with the Obama administration. The supervisors of our district paid him $250,000 a year salary. Someone doing some snooping in the budget found that he was given bonuses that came to another $54,000 on top of that for meeting certain goals. In other words, he got a quarter of a million dollars just for showing up, and if you wanted him to actually work, that would cost extra.
The people who could make a material improvement here at Laney don't cost that much, teachers and janitors and the like. But they get laid off and forced into work furloughs and pay cuts while the upper management rolls along making six figures as though it's business as usual.
Here's my four word solution for the troubles in our college district: chop from the top.