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VIII. Anticipated Reactions and Recommendations
The release of this report has been timed to coincide with the new review of the UCLA Slavic Department that was scheduled to start in 2004 and which is currently either finished or in its last stages. From the point of view of the UCLA Slavic Department and the UCLA Administration, this current review of Slavic Department was meant to be the final act in the faculty's triumphant reestablishment of complete control of the Slavic Department and in the suppressing of challenges to this faculty's authority. As can be seen in the preceding sections of this report, this effort began before the first Eight-Year Review in 1999-2000 had even been completed, continued through the intermediate review in 2002, and was supposed to culminate in this final departmental review, one in which the situation in the UCLA Slavic Department would be deemed acceptable and in which the faculty would be seen as, if not redeemed, then at least reformed. No doubt there has been some actual improvement within the Slavic Department, if for no other reason that three of the four main abusive linguistic faculty are now either retired or dead. Of course, for those students who suffered through the worst of the graduate student abuse visited upon them by the UCLA Slavic Department faculty, there has been no recompense, and for those who abused students, and for those who covered up, and conspired to cover up, this abuse, there has been no punishment. Indeed, there hasn't even been an official investigation, and with this final "review" of the UCLA Slavic Department, the Department's faculty and the University's faculty as a whole no doubt hope that the threat of such an official investigation will have been extinguished at last.
In anticipation and preparation for this result, the UCLA Slavic Department and the UCLA Administration have taken a number of steps to ensure that graduate students in the Department are not dissatisfied. Among the steps taken to "sweeten the pot" for these graduate students about to undergo the upcoming Eight-Year Review has been the passing out of Dissertation Year Fellowships (DYF) left and right in the Slavic Department. Dissertation Year Fellowships are prized one–year fellowships that provide the student enough to live on comfortably for one academic year with no obligation other than to finish writing his dissertation, and as such are much sought after. It is not uncommon for a department to have not a single one of its graduate students receive a DYF, and often even large departments only receive one or two DYFs for their entire graduate student body. In the UCLA Slavic Department, one of the University's smallest departments, four graduate students were offered Dissertation Year Fellowships for the 2004-2005 academic year. (For a list of recipients, see page 26 of the Fall 2004 UCLA Graduate Student Quarterly at www.gdnet.ucla.edu/asis/library/gqfall04b.pdf) This on-going review is the opportunity for the UCLA Slavic Department to put this "unfortunate episode" behind it, and now more than ever both the Department and the UCLA Administration want to see Slavic Department students happy. When it comes to doing whatever it takes to maintain their privileges and station within the system, the Academic Administration, in its role as the representative of the University's tenured professoriate, is willing to do whatever it takes to put an end to this "unpleasantness". As they say, UCLA pays cash. Literally.
Anticipated Reactions to the Release of This Report: General Comments
Given the fact that the UCLA Slavic Department and the UCLA Administration were no doubt of the opinion that they had succeeded in "dodging a bullet" with regard to the events that took place in the UCLA Slavic Department, the release of this report will be an unexpected and unwelcome event. One of the more interesting aspects of the release of the report will be how the University and others associated with it—students, the taxpayers and legislators who support it, faculty and administrators—react to it.
What should one expect in terms of reaction to this report? No doubt, everyone in the UCLA Administration, from the Chancellor on down to the individual faculty members of the Slavic Department, will express their "shock" and "disappointment", and perhaps even "sadness" that graduate students feel that they are somehow not being treated well. This is typical. Note the response from the Chair of the UCLA History Department after the situation there boiled over in 2002:
"I'm saddened by the sense of neglect and ill-treatment that our graduate students have expressed. I want to have a departmental environment in which everyone, particularly our graduate students, feels welcomed, respected, appreciated and able to do the important scholarly work that is the driving passion of our lives.
"It was never my intention, nor the intention of other members of the department's administration, to design policies or act in any manner that would jeopardize the well-being of our students or make them feel that we don't care for them. Indeed, one of the central missions of the department is to nurture and train our graduate students; it is a mission we are dedicated to carrying out."
This "Claude Rains"-like reaction of being "shocked, shocked" at such behavior is typical of academe, and indeed, how could it be any other way? If those in authority were to acknowledge that they already knew of the abuse, then the obvious next question is, if they knew of the abuse, then why didn't they do anything about it? Thus, they are practically forced to adopt the "Claude Rains" approach, regardless of ludicrous such protestations of ignorance might seem in the case of the UCLA Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.
What might be unexpected, at least to those unfamiliar with this department and its "cult of denial" is that some members, even in the face of such overwhelming evidence, might still try to insist that they did nothing wrong. From a tactical point of view this might not seem to make sense, since every time the Department or one of its representatives tries to deny the obvious, they only wind up digging themselves in deeper (witness the section of the Eight-Year Review Report titled "Response to Slavic Chair's 'Errors of Fact' Statement" in which the chair of the internal committee issues a point by point rebuttal of the Slavic Department Chair's arguments, pointing out further the lies that characterized the Slavic Department's approach toward the review committees: "Especially in the beginning, the response was a disavowal of any such problems. At one point an external reviewer was moved to exclaim to a faculty member, '...you are in denial!' The pattern that emerged was consistent denial or minimization of the problem-until confronted with overwhelming evidence.")
And yet, one should not at all be surprised if some members of the Slavic Department faculty choose to continue this pattern. From a legal point of view, the most logical path might be for them to say nothing, but no one ever claimed that logic ruled the day when it came to the decisions made by many of the faculty in the UCLA Slavic Department. No doubt many will continue to struggle in the quicksand of their own lies. One should also not forget that some of these faculty, the same ones who threatened to take legal action against the UCLA Administration when told that they shouldn't speak to Slavic Department graduate students about the Eight-Year Review, might also attempt to take legal action. Against whom would be the question, but again, logic does not necessarily play a role in such decisions.
As for the UCLA Administration itself, one should expect, after the inevitable "Claude Rain" responses of "shock", "surprise", and "sadness" a well orchestrated public relations campaign designed first to staunch the bleeding, secondly to begin the process of outward contrition, thirdly a strenuous effort to convince the public that the UCLA is going to be taking some "real" and "concrete" steps to bring about change and to prevent such abuse from ever happening again. What this will really be, however, is nothing more than an attempt to divert the public's attention, to the extent that this can be done, from the real causes of systemic abuse by the tenured professoriate to superficial "causes". In a sense, the UCLA Administration will attempt to do on a large scale what the UCLA Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures did on a smaller scale via its attempts to minimize the problems and to place them in a greater overall positive context. This attempt at minimalization by the Department also included attempts divert attention from these problems through various "smoke and mirror" techniques: the artificial division of the Department into "caucuses" in an attempt to isolate the offending linguistic faculty members, the production of a "quantitatively impressive but qualitatively vacuous" student handbook, and so on.
The intent of the UCLA Slavic Department with all these faux reforms was twofold: 1. to provide those on high bent on defending the Slavic Department with some help, some ammunition with which to make such a defense, some evidence to which to point that would support the false claims that real reform was being made. 2. To confuse and divert those outside of academe (e.g. the taxpayers who pay for the University of California system) with large quantities of alleged "reform", all the while knowing that most of these "outsiders", due to their lack of familiarity with the system, are unable to determine which of these reforms would bring about real change and which are nothing more than window dressing.
One should not be in the least surprised if the UCLA Administration attempts to recreate this on a larger scale. For example, one might see the appointing of a "commission" to investigate these abuses and charges of lying and law breaking on the part of the Slavic Department faculty. But of whom would this commission be comprised? Tenured faculty, no doubt. And no doubt this commission will cluck its tongue and announce how much it disapproves of the type of faculty behavior documented here, and no doubt this commission will make many, many recommendations. But the real question is this: will this commission make any recommendation that will break the near stranglehold on power that the tenured professoriate wields throughout the University of California system? Will it make any recommendations that will allow the University to hold tenured professors to account for their actions? Will it make any recommendations that provide real oversight of the academic process to ensure that abuse does not occur? Will it make recommendations that allow for the meting out of real punishment to abusive faculty? For if not, then this will turn out to have the same effect as the Slavic Department's so-called reform: superficial changes that allow the underlying system to remain fully in place and intact.
Pressure will also be put on graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department. What forms this pressure will take cannot be known, but it would not be surprising to see both subtle and overt pressure employed on the behalf of the UCLA Administration to get existing graduate students to be pliable in response to these revelations. No doubt the Administration and the Slavic Department itself will point out the slew of dissertation year fellowships that have been given out recently to Slavic Department graduate students. It will also be made clear to these graduate students that negative characterizations of their department will also reflect negatively on them when they try to get jobs. Unfortunately, whenever the pigeons come home to roost with regard to the faculty's behavior toward graduate students, it can often be the case that the graduate students themselves suffer more than the faculty, simply because the faculty already have tenure and security. The students will be in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. Some students will fear not speaking up in defense of the Department, simply because to refuse to do so will be seen by the Department as a betrayal. Others will fear that speaking up in defense of the Department—regardless of how sincere this defense is—might hurt future job prospects as they would be seen as selling out to a faculty that is obviously and undeniably guilty of repeated and extended gross misconduct. And it must be said that there are current graduate students who are genuinely fond of Michael Heim and will want to defend him. The situation of these students will be addressed below.
Recommendations: What Needs To Be Done And By Whom
This section focuses on what needs to be done in order to change the system as it currently stands, and where specific change needs to take place. As can be seen in Section VI, the weak points (or, depending on your point of view, the strong points) of the system with regard to exposing (or hiding) abuses are found throughout the system, at every level, and it is for this reason that reform must be instituted at every level. There are limits to what change can be accomplished at a given level, and these limits are recognized in the recommendations as they apply to each level or group of individuals. Many of these recommendations are identical to the "Summary of Main Recommendations" made at the end of the Annotated Eight-Year Review, Section IV-B.
1. UCLA has an obligation to right the wrongs done to UCLA graduate students in the Slavic Department and to make amends for the financial, professional, and academic damage done to graduate students in this program, both past and present. Any former graduate students who either left the program of their own accord or who were forced out because of the testing procedure in place in the Slavic Department should be given the option to re-enter the program and finish the degree.
2. Faculty members in the UCLA Slavic Department who abused graduate students, and those who lied about such abuse and conspired to cover it up, must be terminated. When UCLA speaks of concepts such as integrity and ethical breaches, these are concepts that cannot be selectively applied only to basketball coaches and other non-tenured employees of UCLA. The violations here could not possibly be any clearer: if UCLA refuses to terminate tenured faculty members in this instance, then it is simply that much clearer that for UCLA, terms such as integrity and ethical behavior are not immutable values but simply relative concepts to be employed whenever it is in the interest of those running the University to do so. Obviously the University of California has no authority over David Bethea, the outside reviewer from the University of Wisconsin who joined in Michael Heim's attempt to smear XX, the one graduate student from the UCLA Slavic Department who allowed her story to be aired publicly, but it does have authority over Alan Timberlake of UC Berkeley. Timberlake should be subjected to the same degree of discipline as that which should be exercised against his former UCLA colleagues with whom he worked to cover up the abuses that took place in the Department. Given Timberlake's willingness to work hand in hand with his former UCLA colleagues in this regard, the UC Regents might also do well to authorize an investigation of graduate student conditions in the UC Berkeley Slavic Department.
3. As was made clear in the sections above, in spite of the overwhelming amount of credible evidence of abusive behavior by UCLA Slavic Department faculty members towards their graduate students, no official fact-finding mission was ever conducted. (From the Internal Report: "The mandate to the review team was not to conduct a fact-finding mission or to determine the guilt or innocence of particular individuals...") Unfortunately, since it is clear that at this point that the UCLA Administration is incapable of conducting such an investigation, it will have to be initiated and directed at higher levels, probably by the UC Regents or possibly even by the State Legislature. Until such time, however, that a true investigation of the UCLA Slavic Department can be carried out, the UCLA Administration should heed the requests and suggestions of the internal review committee in its first report, namely that the Department be put into receivership and that a ban on new graduate students be put into place. Any "improvements" that have occurred in the UCLA Slavic Department since 2000 have occurred not because of any change of heart with regard to the UCLA Slavic Department faculty's attitudes toward graduate students, but rather because of their fear that substantive action might be taken against the Department as a result of the graduate student abuse that occurred.
4. The UCLA Administration needs to provide an official explanation as to why the University was either unable or unwilling to rein in members of the UCLA Slavic Department faculty who insisted on speaking with graduate students concerning the results of the Eight-Year Review. The words in the Eight-Year Review concerning possible retaliation by faculty against students who participated in the Eight-Year Review were stirring and resolute: "Let it, therefore, be clearly understood that the slightest indication of retaliation by faculty against students will be aggressively investigated by the Graduate Council to determine whether charges should be filed with the appropriate Senate Committee for violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct, not only for recent but also for any past offences." The reality was very different, as the UCLA Administration could not back down fast enough in the face of legal threats from the UCLA Slavic Department faculty. The UCLA Administration needs to explain its ignominious actions (and inaction) in this shameful episode, one in which the trust of the students was betrayed and the promises made to them quickly swept under the rug.
5. Because there never was an official investigation into the conduct of individual faculty members of the UCLA Slavic Department to answer the charges made against them of abusing graduate students, none of the individual faculty members ever had charges brought up against them. This was, of course, by design, and was in fact the point of the long, drawn out process that was documented in Section VI of this report, a process which purported to be in place to weed out wrongdoing but in fact was intended to dilute the force of the anger coming from students by elongating the process and thus make this student backlash manageable and, above all, to keep details from leaking out to the public at large.
The result was that one of the worst offenders and abusers among the Slavic Department faculty, a person who the entire faculty (with the exception of this person's spouse) realize is severely in need of psychological counseling, was actually allowed to serve for one year on the promotion and tenure committee, one of the most important committees in the University in that the approval of this committee is one of the last steps in the granting of tenure. This is yet another example of how failing to have a system in place under which faculty could be effectively subjected to discipline may have hurt people who have nothing to do with Slavic. The idea that this individual would be a deciding voice in whether or not a person receives tenure or promotion is frightening. As a result of her having been allowed to serve on this committee, the UCLA Administration should revisit every case that she had a part in deciding to ensure that the right decision was made. In fact, everyone who lost a position or failed to get promotion under this version of the CAP committee should receive a second chance for tenure or promotion.
6. The idea of anonymous course evaluations is a good one in that they provide students with an opportunity to evaluate the level and quality of instruction presented to them in a given course. Naturally, course evaluations must be taken with a certain degree of skepticism, since there will always be students who would choose either to spew vitriol unjustifiably on an instructor whom they did not like or else heap praise on an instructor with whom they were enamored, regardless of the performance of that instructor. Yet, taken as a whole, and with a wide enough sampling base, course evaluations do play an important role and can offer insight. In graduate school, however, the role of these evaluations is more complicated, simply because the courses have many times fewer students enrolled (at the graduate level, these courses are usually seminars), and thus the anonymity of the students filling out the response is much less secure. In other words, in a class of five people, if one student voiced a complaint on a supposedly "anonymous" evaluation form about a specific incident, it would be fairly easy to discern which student wrote that evaluation. A new system is needed for graduate student feedback, but until that comes about, the UCLA Administration must make sure that the option of the old system, however flawed it may be, is still available to graduate students. In the UCLA Slavic Department it was not unheard of for a faculty member to pass out course evaluations and then sit there while the students filled them out. It should be made clear to all faculty that once these forms have been passed out, the faculty member should leave the room. Students should also be given the option of taking the evaluation form out of the room and dropping it off anonymously later, thus giving them more time to think through their responses.
7. The system in place for comprehensive exams at the masters level needs to change. As it stands now, in most departments that have comprehensive exams for the masters level, there are three possible outcomes: 1. Outright failure of the exams, in which case no degree is given and no admission into the Ph.D. program is allowed; 2. The so-called "low pass" (officially, just a "pass") in which a masters degree is granted but no admission into the Ph.D. program is allowed; 3. The "high pass" in which a masters degree is awarded and admission to the Ph.D. program is granted. While the existence of the "low pass" option might at first glance seem favorable to students, since after all, at least they will have a degree of some sort to show for their time and trouble, it in fact serves a very different purpose. The "low pass" masters degree is merely an additional tool the faculty use to weed out students while at the same time pacifying these students in the hope that they won't cause a fuss. ("Oh well, at last I got a masters degree out of it.") Students who spent two or three years working towards admission to the Ph.D. program via passing the Masters comprehensive exams are much less likely to take lying down an arbitrary failure on the comprehensive exams if they are going to get nothing out of it at all. Beyond this, the existence of two levels of masters degrees calls into question the academic integrity of the institution that grants such a degree. An M.A. should represent the same level of knowledge for every student who earns one. It is absurd for an academic institution to award a student a masters degree, thereby presumably certifying a certain level of expertise, and then rejecting that same student for its Ph.D. program.
There is no such thing as a "low pass" bachelors degree or a "low pass" doctorate degree; nor should there be a "low pass" masters degree.
8. The current system of evaluating departments, the review of a department once every eight years, is inadequate to achieve true oversight of an academic department, but the changes that need to be made in this process will need to be addressed at a higher level. It is obvious from the events surrounding the Eight-Year Review of the UCLA Slavic Department and the cover-up that ensued that the UCLA Administration has neither the will nor (apparently) the ability to take the necessary steps in this regard. One thing that can be done, however, is to make more accessible the results of whatever review process (be it the current Eight-Year Review or whatever replaces it) not only to the students, but also to the public at large. The results of every review of every department should no longer be hidden in the Academic Senate office, nor should they be restricted to a single review copy in the department that was reviewed. UCLA is a public institution, funded by taxpayers, and everyone should have immediate and complete access to these reviews via the Internet. Just as the answer to the Enron/World-Com scandals and the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandals has been a demand for transparency, so too should transparency be the watchword for the abusive conditions that currently blight UCLA.
The words of J. Robert Oppenheimer here are instructive: "We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert." Proof of Oppenheimer's claim can all too easily be found in the events surrounding the Eight-Year Review of the UCLA Slavic Department. The results of every review of every department at every UC campus (and ideally at every institution of higher learning) should be made readily available via the Internet to all who would like to view them.
9. Exit interviews should be done for all graduate students. In instances where graduate students have simply stopped attending, UCLA should take the initiative in contacting these graduate students to ascertain why it is they have chosen to leave their program.
University of California/UC Regents
1. There is a need to establish an independent and permanent review apparatus. Clearly the present system, in which tenured UC professors and outside tenured faculty are used to review their tenured brethren, is unsatisfactory. A permanent review apparatus should be completely independent of the University Administration itself, reporting directly to either the Regents or to the State Legislature and the Governor. Reviews of academic departments should occur at least once every three years and in addition, there should be random, unannounced reviews from time to time. Among the rules governing this new process of review would be the following:
-Faculty would be prohibited from discussing such reviews with students
-Faculty would be prohibited from prompting students beforehand as to what they should or should not say to the reviewers.
- The department being reviewed should not be allowed to suggest a list of possible external reviewers. Before the external reviewers are finally selected, their names should be run past the graduate students of that department to prevent situations such as was seen in the most recent Eight-Year Review when it was discovered that Alan Timberlake, himself a former member of the UCLA Slavic Department, was going to be on the external review committee.
- A UC graduate student should be a part of each review, and should be compensated appropriately for his or her efforts. (Under the current system, the only reviewer who is not compensated is the graduate student reviewer.)
- All incoming graduate students should be provided contact numbers/emails/addresses to this permanent review organization and be instructed in ways to get in touch with that organization should any of these graduate students feel uncomfortable with the way the review is being conducted.
- Again, all review reports should be available in full via the Internet to the public at large.
2. There need to be fundamental changes in the nature and meaning of tenure at the University of California. Tenure as originally conceived was not meant to be a system by which faculty were guaranteed a job for life. Tenure was meant to do two things: A. Protect faculty from being terminated for teaching controversial doctrines; B. Protect faculty from being terminated for publishing articles and books which are perceived by some as controversial. These are worthy aims, and tenure in so far as it means retaining these protections should without question be retained. What tenure was not supposed to do, however, was to extend into every nook and cranny of the University teaching experience. When faculty can not be told that their teaching methodology needs to be changed (not the substance of what they are teaching, but how they are teaching it), when faculty cannot be told to keep from discussing sensitive issues regarding the faculty themselves with their graduate students, as happened during the Eight-Year Review of the UCLA Slavic Department, then the Moosa-ization of the academe will have been completed, in effect giving complete and unchecked power to the faculty. This is what tenure is well on its way to becoming, if it isn't there already. When one segment of the University, or of any organization for that matter, has absolute freedom, then that means every other segment has its rights and freedoms severely curtailed. No faculty member, tenured or otherwise, should have absolute free rein to do whatever he or she pleases. Tenure must be redefined in such a way that faculty, even those with tenure, can be held accountable for the type of behavior seen in the UCLA Slavic Department and elsewhere.
The examples given in this report deal mostly with the personal consequences of what happens when tenure is used as a broad shield for actions which have grave implications for graduate students, e.g. dismissal from the program, failure to receive recommendations for jobs and tenure, etc. This abuse of tenure also has consequences beyond these, however. It in effect creates two different classes of faculty, those who truly have the freedom to speak their mind, i.e. those with tenure, and those who don't have such freedom, i.e. those coming up for tenure or academics without tenure track positions (lecturers, professors-in-residence, etc.) With time, as the "reach" of tenure has expanded, that is to say as the number of areas covered by tenure has grown, there has been an inversely proportional shrinking in the ratio of tenured faculty to non-tenured faculty. One need only look at this ratio fifty years ago and compare it to what it is today. What this means is that an ever larger percentage of faculty members do not enjoy the protections of tenure. As the reach of tenure has expanded to the point where its abuse as seen in the UCLA Slavic Department and the Moosa case at California State University, Chico has become more and more common, educational institutions are understandably that much more reluctant to open up tenure-track positions. It is much easier for all concerned to have students taught by adjunct faculty or lecturers, academics without tenure who will not rock the boat on University issues out of fear of losing their jobs. Of course, this also means that they will be more cautious in expressing themselves on academic and scholarly issues, exactly the sort of check on intellectual freedom that tenure was supposed to prevent. This is yet another reason that tenure should be redefined to what it was originally meant to be, protection for the scholar to teach and publish what he wants without fear of retribution, and not from what it has become, a broad shield behind which any sort of behavior can be engaged in, irrespective of how odious or hurtful this behavior is to other members of the academic community.
3. The punishment and misdeeds of professors can no longer be considered purely personal matters. In the past, the University would hide behind the excuse of protecting an employee's privacy when questioned about an individual professor's proclivity to abuse graduate students or to abuse other staff and faculty. The protection of an employee's privacy is and should remain a paramount concern of the University. (It's a pity the University did not feel the same way when informed that the Slavic Department Chairman had illegally released grades from the transcripts of the one graduate student who stood up publicly to the Slavic Department, but never mind.) Unlike any other members of the University community, decisions made by faculty members affect students to a disproportionately large extent, and this fact must be taken into account when determining what degree of privacy be granted to them. In purely personal matters, or in matters that have only to do with issues between faculty members and the administration, then of course normal privacy rules should apply. But in instances where abuse of students is at issue, then the record of the faculty member in question as it applies to issues of student abuse should be accessible not only to all members of the University community, but also to the taxpayers and public at large who are paying to support this university system.
No doubt the current academic administration will decry this as a violation of privacy and submit that such matters as best handled discretely by the university administration itself, thereby raising the question, "best" for whom? For the tenured faculty that the university administration represents and seeks to protect at every turn? It goes without saying that, for them, it would be better that there be no public record of instances of abuse towards graduate students. But for the greater good of the academic community and the public that supports the university system, it is best that all such confirmed instances of graduate student abuse be made readily available to the public. Just as the results of future departmental reviews should be posted on the Web, so too should prior confirmed instances of graduate student abuse by individual faculty members be readily accessible via the Web. Again, transparency is the watchword.
4. There should be no more confidential settlements by UC. It is the people's money; they have a right to know what is being done with it. Any legal suits brought against UC that are eventually settled out of court should not be done so with secret settlements, and by this term "secret settlements" is meant not only those settlements in which a legally binding non-disclosure clause is agreed upon, but also those settlements in which such "non-disclosure" is simply understood. In one form or another it is taxpayers' money that is being used to settle these suits. Beyond that, the public has a right to know of the conduct of the University employees whose salaries it pays. In other words, those who offend should not be allowed to buy their way out with the public's money, but rather should be held publicly accountable for their actions. Whenever the University pays off in a legal settlement, regardless of the legal nature of non-disclosure involved, everything about that case, including the amount of money paid out and to whom, should be posted on the Web and be easily accessible to those who pay for the running and upkeep of the University, i.e. the public at large, as well as to those who choose to donate to the University. Transparency.
5. As part of this movement toward transparency, the University needs to make most of its internal documents accessible via the web. As it stands right now, almost all University documentation that is not directly associated with a specific employee's personnel file, is accessible to the public, but often only after cumbersome requests via the Freedom of Information Act, requests which sometimes take weeks and months to process and for which the requester is usually charged a fee, usually somewhere along the lines of ten cents to twenty-five cents a page. Thus, while this information is nominally available to the public, the time and expense involved in prying it free from the various UC administrative units in which the information resides in effect discourages citizens from examining the workings of the university system that their tax dollars support.
The solution to this is to make all information that is legally accessible via the Freedom of Information Act immediately accessible to the public at large without having to go through the Freedom of Information Act, by either placing it permanently on the Web or making it accessible via the Web when it is requested. It may have been the case in the days of typewritten documentation that it was justifiable to charge someone by the page to copy such documents, but in the present day, almost every document is produced on computer and thus is already in digitized form. It would cost next to nothing to place such documents on the Web (either permanently or when requested), and that is precisely what should be done. The UC system, just like the California State University system and the state community college system, belongs to the people of California, the people who authorized it and the people who pay for it, and thus these same people have a right to the maximum insight possible into this system, with a maximum of speed and a minimal amount of cost (if any).
Moreover, statistics involving the graduate program of each department on each of the ten UC campuses should be included on the website of that department. These statistics should include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following:
• Percentage of students that enter the program vs. percentage of students who finish with a Ph.D.
• Percentage of students who are funded in the department by year.
• Percentage of the students who are fully funded in the department, that is to say, percentage who receive a livable wage that does not require them to seek outside work while trying to attend graduate school. (Each campus usually has a suggested income level for what is needed to live and study in the locale in which the college or university is located.)
• Of those students who are funded, but not fully funded, the average amount provided to each of these students (not including funding used to offset fees and tuition) should be listed.
• To the extent that former graduate students will allow it, their contact information should be provided so that prospective graduate students can contact them and get firsthand information on what it is like to be a graduate student in that department. This list of former graduate students should not include only those who finished the program and are gainfully employed in the field, but should include everyone who was ever in the program. For obvious reasons, it is more beneficial for a prospective student to speak with former students who did not finish the program in order to ask why they didn't finish.
6. The practice of UC paying the legal fees of professors who abuse students, who break the law, or who, by their arbitrary actions, bring about damages of any sort in the lives of their students, should end. If the conduct of tenured faculty member is egregious enough that it motivates a student to go to court, then the professor should pay his own legal fees and not expect the University, funded by taxpayers and public monies, to reach in its pocket to pay fees that result from that professor's own misconduct. In rare cases where it is deemed appropriate for the University to pay the fees of the faculty member, then it should also be willing to pay the legal fees of the student or students who are bringing the charges. The legal playing field between student and faculty must be made level.
In addition, in those rare instances in which the University ends up paying some or all of the legal bills for the misdeeds of a professor, if there is judgment against the Regents, that professor himself should be expected to pay some, if not all, of the judgment from his own pocket. It is only when held accountable for their actions that the faculty will come to appreciate the need to behave appropriately.
7. It must be made clear to the all the faculty of UC that there is no inherent "right to privacy" for messages sent and received on UC emails or stored on UC computers. Computers purchased either with UC money or with grant money associated with the professor's work at UC are not the personal property of the professor, but rather belong to the University of California. During the 1999-2000 Eight-Year Review of the UCLA Slavic Department, several of the faculty from this department were under the false impression that they had no obligation to reveal what they had done and what they had written on their computers regarding their attempts to minimize and cover up the abuse of graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department. They have every right to take their case to court (not that the UCLA Academic Administration would let it go that far anyway), but they will lose. While they may maintain the right to whatever intellectual property that is on their computers, they maintain no right to exclusivity of access to those computers. The University of California system needs to make this very clear to its faculty.
8. When the time finally comes that the UC Regents are actually forced to address the issue of what happened with the Eight-Year Review of the UCLA Slavic Department and the cover-up that ensued, it must be understood that there can be no "compromise" on the part of the UC Regents with regard to the interpretation of these events or the reality of the graduate student abuse in the UCLA Slavic Department that was behind these events. Academe can be remarkably Byzantine in these matters, always ready (when pure application of force is no longer effective) to seek out face-saving compromise. Indeed, face-saving solutions are more or less knee-jerk reactions in matters such as this in the world of academe.
But no response from the UC Regents that would allow the UCLA Slavic Department to "save face" would be acceptable, for in order for this department to "save face", one would have to posit a scenario in which there was a "misunderstanding" (or, better yet, an "unfortunate misunderstanding") between faculty and students such that the students somehow mistakenly believed they were being abused. Even worse, it would imply that there might be no pressing need to bring about reform, when in point of fact only the most drastic of reforms are capable of changing this system. Any evaluation of this episode by the UC Regents that fails to openly acknowledge the abuse of graduate students by the UCLA Slavic Department faculty, that fails to acknowledge the wrong-doing on the part of those faculty members who abused, and those who lied about such abuse, and those who conspired to cover up such abuse—in short, any evaluation by the UC Regents that does not condemn in the strongest possible terms the events that transpired relating to the UCLA Slavic Department and the Eight-Year Review, can only be seen as an attempt by the University system to continue the cover up of these events. There can be no gray area here: The UC Regents must openly embrace the reformers and openly condemn the abusers, and then husband the political will to make the painful changes needed to bring about reform of the system.
9. Former graduate students from the UCLA Slavic Department must be given the option to finish their degree if they didn't do so before. Students who "failed" comprehensive exams should be given the opportunity to retake a new set of exams, written and supervised by outside observers. How many students would want to take advantage of such an option cannot be known, but one suspects that these numbers would be small since most of these former graduate students have moved on in their lives. The option, however, should be theirs.
Given the inevitable stain that will blemish the UCLA Slavic Department with the release of this and future reports, current graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department should also be given the option of transferring out of the UCLA Slavic Department and transferring to the UC campus and department of their choice. It is difficult enough to get a job once one leaves graduate school, and although it may not be fair to the graduate students, they will be the ones who suffer as the reputation of the UCLA Slavic Department suffers. They have invested an enormous amount of time and energy in their studies in the UCLA Slavic Department. If they want to take their chances and finish their degree in this department, then that should be their choice, but they should also be offered the alternative of finishing their degree in another department at UCLA, or at another UC campus altogether, if they feel that this will give them the best opportunity to move forward in the field. The department and choice of UC campus should be theirs and theirs alone.
10. If there is one thing that is beyond question with regard to the UCLA Slavic Department and its review, it is that UCLA as an institution is incapable of investigating its own departments in any meaningful or substantive way. Even after abusive behavior was revealed, even after the Chair of the UCLA Slavic Department was exposed as a liar and as one who violated the law, even after the risks taken by UCLA graduate students to cooperate with the various review teams, not a single faculty member was fired. Not a single faculty member was reprimanded. Indeed, the Chair of the UCLA Slavic Department, the professor who lied and broke the law in an effort to cover up the abuses of the faculty towards its graduate students, was actually promoted, not one step, but two steps.
What this means is that if there is to be a true investigation of the UCLA Slavic Department, then it cannot be directed at the University level (i.e. it can not be undertaken and directed by UCLA itself), but must be instituted and directed at the University of California system level, at the very least, and must include full investigative powers and it must have the necessary investigative, academic, and administrative manpower to explore in depth the past actions of this department.
California State Legislature
As was discussed above, even though the University of California is a state-financed University that was created by the California State Legislature and developed by the state, it maintains a large degree of independence from the State Legislature. The Regents of the University were created to act in large part as a buffer between the University system and the state, thus insulating the University from political trends and pressures that emanate from the political body that has ultimate authority over it. The goal of freeing the intellectual and scholarly element of the university system from such pressures is in itself a good one as it allows scholars and researchers to delve freely into every sort of topic and it protects the university system and the individual researcher from any potential political backlash that might come about as a result of what the researcher chooses to teach or publish. In a sense, this distance between the Legislature and the university system is to the university system what tenure was supposed to be for individual faculty members: protection against unjust and unwarranted political interference into the work of the University. But just as tenure can be abused, so too can the independence of the university system from the Legislature that authorizes and financially supports it be abused.
The State Legislature must realize that it is the last representative of the people with regard to how their tax dollars are used by the University of California. While it is good that the State Legislature respects the need for an academic system free from political influence in how it conducts its research, in what it teaches in its courses, and in what it publishes, the Legislature cannot ignore its responsibility to ensure that taxpayers' dollars are not spent on a system that allows the sort of abuse and cover-up that can be seen in this report. One would hope that the UC Regents will recognize the scope and severity of this problem and take real, effective measures to bring about change, but there is no guarantee that this will be the case.
Usually the State Legislature is extremely reluctant to interfere into the specifics of the University of California or California State University systems, preferring instead to allow the Regents of these particular university systems to provide oversight. By allowing the current system to develop the way it has (at least with regard to the University of California system, although as the Moosa case makes clear, the same problem can be found in the California State University system) these state-appointed Regents have shown that they are in need of more direct oversight, at least with regard to this issue. Individual members of the State Legislature prefer not to deal directly with problems in the University of California system, as can be seen clearly in the case of the California state senator who suggested that his/her involvement in this case might somehow constitute a "separation of powers" infringement. The "Separation of Powers" doctrine was designed to protect the government from fusing into a single governmental entity by preserving the system of checks and balances put in place to prevent any one branch of government from acquiring too much power. What it was not intended to do, however, was to relieve any one branch of government from addressing issues of wrongdoing. In fact, just the opposite is true—the system of checks and balances supposedly protected by the separation of powers should do just that: it should check unjust behavior and balance out negative actions by other branches of the government.
This is not to say that the State Legislature has to be the governmental entity that forces reform upon the University of California. It may in fact turn out that the Regents of UC will find the political resolve to rein in a faculty that has run amuck and reform a system of academic administrations that lacks the will and/or power to carry out effective oversight of individual academic departments and faculty members. But should it turn out to be the case that the UC Regents are not capable of doing this, then the State Legislature must overcome its squeamishness and step in to bring about change. One member of the California State Senate who was contacted concerning the events surrounding the Eight-Year Review of the UCLA Slavic Department explained her reluctance to get involved as follows: since some graduate students might take the University of California to state court as a result of the abuse visited upon them by UC faculty and UC administrators who covered up this abuse, the State Legislature should therefore stay out of the fray lest it interfere in the State Judiciary and thereby "somehow" blur the lines of demarcation that define the "Separation of Powers" doctrine. Such a scenario, however, is simply not credible. In order for the system of checks and balances to work at all—in other words, in order for there even to be a possibility of "checking" the inappropriate actions of one branch of government—there must be at least some interface between the various branches of government. Just because two different branches of government find themselves involved in a single incident involving one of the state's university systems is not tantamount to weakening the separation of powers doctrine. Ultimately the University of California and the state's other two systems of higher education derive their power and authority from the people through the people's representatives in the Legislature, thus making it appropriate—in exceptional cases and circumstances—for that same legislature to take action to ensure that the educational system work the way it was originally intended to work. If students are at the same time seeking financial and criminal redress through the use of the judiciary system, then these are not conflicting phenomena, but complementary actions, with each branch of government doing what it is supposed to be doing.
Regardless of what changes are instituted (or not instituted) by the Regents, the Legislature should also conduct open hearings on the inability of the state university systems to practice effective oversight and discipline of their faculties, and on the issue of the abuse of students at the hand of faculty in these particular systems. The public at large has a right to know how their tax-dollars are being spent on these public institutions of higher learning, and anything less than an intensive, extensive, and public investigation of these institutions, along with legislation to correct the situation and ensure transparency in future operations of these institutions, would be is a disservice to those who support these institutions financially.
In his attempt to deny and cover up the abuse of graduate students at the hands of UCLA Slavic Department faculty, Michael Heim broke both state and federal law by releasing grades from the undergraduate transcript of student XX to third parties without the consent of student XX. (XX, to refresh memories, was the one student who allowed her story to be told in such a way that she was easily identifiable to those within the UCLA Slavic Department.) Possibly because she was the only student to allow her complaints to be publicly identified with her it was felt by the Department that her story of abuse above all the other stories of abuse must be singled out and attacked, and the smear campaign by Heim, later picked up by the outside reviewers Bethea/Timberlake, was presumably part of that attack, hence the decision to actually release her grades to others without her consent.
The law enforcement agencies responsible for enforcing these laws, both at the state and federal levels, must not be hesitant in bringing charges against Michael Heim for breaking this law. Arguments typically given in situations such as this against bringing charges would be that Michael Heim would be a first time-offender, or that the crime in question—releasing a student's grades without her permission—is a relatively minor crime in the larger scope of things. This is all true as far as it goes: it is doubtful that Michael Heim has ever been charged with a crime, and Michael Heim's failure to adhere to the law in this instance can hardly be equated to other crimes that involve bodily violence and theft.
And yet, the fact cannot be denied that he did break the law, and he did so for the most ignominious of reasons, in order to smear a student who had the courage to stand up to the Slavic Department and to report openly on the abuse she suffered at the hands of that department and of that faculty. Just because the nature of the offense was not equal to assault and battery or theft, the law he broke was still a law, and it is a law for a reason, in order to protect the privacy of students at institutions of higher education. If society only enforced laws against more egregious offenses, then there would be no need to have laws against smaller offenses, since by this reasoning, they would never be enforced anyway.
Moreover, if Michael Heim gets away with not being prosecuted for his violation of the law, this sends yet another message to all tenured faculty, namely this: everyone gets one "freebee", one opportunity to break these laws concerning the protection of student privacy without consequence. Ignoring infractions of these laws would have serious consequences for students in review situations such as the one seen in the Eight-Year Review of the UCLA Slavic Department. It is difficult enough to persuade students to participate voluntarily in a review of their own faculty, especially when they get burned as happened in this particular review. It would be that much more difficult to persuade them to participate if they knew that their personal academic information (and any other personal information in the possession of their academic department) can be released to the public with impunity should their home department choose to do so.
The facts here are simple. By releasing XX's grades from her undergraduate transcript to third parties without her consent, Michael Heim broke several laws. He must be held accountable for his actions. A full accounting of Michael Heim's actions will be provided to the appropriate state and federal law enforcement authorities. Failure by law enforcement officials to do so would simply be an extension of the same type of favoritism we have seen granted to the Slavic Department faculty by the UCLA academic administration and by the UCLA Academic Senate.
Faculty Members: At UCLA and At Other Institutions
The predicted response of faculty members and suggestions for what they should do in reaction to the release of this report is divided into a section on UCLA faculty, including specifically Slavic Department faculty members, and non-UCLA faculty.
The reaction of UCLA faculty who are members of the UCLA Slavic Department will, not surprisingly, depend on the individual faculty member. As was mentioned above, for those who abused students or those who participated in the cover up of this abuse, silence would probably be the prudent option, but as can be seen from the Eight-Year Review report itself, reason does not always guide their actions. They may try to point to the follow up review in 2002 of the UCLA Slavic Department (this was a "mini-review" of the Department, not equal to the original review in depth or in scope and one without a UCLA graduate student as a part of the Internal Review team) in which some improvements were noted. What they will not tell you, of course, is that by the time this review came around, it had been made crystal clear to graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department that there could be no trust in the earlier promises to protect them were they to honestly and openly participate in this follow-up review two years after the original, thereby severely compromising students' ability to criticize openly. Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice, shame on us. Thus, any attempt by the UCLA Slavic Department faculty to appeal to student opinion elicited since the original review must be seen in that light.
No doubt the knee-jerk reaction of some faculty in the UCLA Slavic Department will be to deny the charges. Others may attempt to attenuate the nature of the charges by adopting the "Mistakes Were Made" defense. Given the overwhelming evidence seen in the Eight-Year Review report itself, both options appear rather pointless, but when one of the reviewers in the 2000 review characterized faculty members of the UCLA Slavic Department of being "in denial", this was not an exaggeration. Still others, especially those who threatened to bring suit against UCLA for prohibiting them from talking with graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department about the Eight-Year Review report, and who even have threatened students at times with legal action, might attempt to strike out legally again. These are people who, regardless of the evidence gathered in support of the charges of abuse, will fight to the end to "defend the honor" of the Department and the University, by which they really mean they will fight to the end to defend themselves, since they have effectively, in their minds, conflated the two concepts. To them, they are the Department, and any failure of the University back them 100% (much less an attempt by the University to reprimand and discipline them) is taken as a personal attack. What these abusive faculty members, and those who tried to cover up the abuse, should do, of course, is to admit what they did and to cease this never ending round of denials. The evidence of the wrongdoing and the subsequent cover up attempts is overwhelming, and there is more to come. Whether such an admission will actually be made, however, is doubtful. Some have advocated the creation of a sort of "Truth and Reconciliation" panel, not unlike that which was employed in South Africa after the fall of apartheid, in which faculty would be excused from further punishment if they would agree to be open and honest in their account of what was done to graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department throughout the years. It is doubtful, however, whether this would work, mainly because it is very unlikely that any of the offending faculty would be willing to tell the truth (indeed, after so many years of lying and cover up, it is doubtful that any of these faculty members would even recognize the truth), and beyond that, very few former students who bore the brunt of this treatment have any desire to "reconcile" with this faculty, with this department, or with this university. There are alternative avenues by which to seek redress.
Finally, there is that group of Slavic Department faculty who were not abusive and who did not scheme to minimize and cover up the abuses that were occurring within the UCLA Slavic Department. Part of this group consists of non-tenured lecturers, who of course are limited in what they can and cannot say. Among the group of tenured professors, there were some who saw what was going on and worked to change the system, including the above-mentioned "Prague Spring" chairperson and others who tried to work within the system to bring about change, only to be stymied by the collective will of the old guard and the inertia this old guard represents.
In an early section of this report it was noted that there exists within academia, as is the case within many of the professional vocations, a strong sense of professional courtesy (Section II). This sense of professional courtesy has been more or less codified into a set of rules, one of which dictates that one academic should never criticize another academic publicly. If there is criticism to be handed out, then it should be done so within the system put in place by the University itself. Unfortunately, more often than not this tends simply to mute criticism of faculty misconduct. While the stated reason for such circumspection might be in order for the individual in question to be afforded fair treatment, to keep from disrupting the work of the University, etc. etc., the more probable reason is that, by keeping academics from criticizing other academics, the system itself, a system by which faculty have almost unlimited power, is protected.
While one should acknowledge that this one group of faculty within the UCLA Slavic Department did in fact try to play by the accepted "rules" in their attempts to reform the Department, it is now abundantly clear that such rules no longer serve any purpose, since the word on the abusive nature of the UCLA Slavic Department is already out of the bag. Beyond that, adherence to such a code of professional silence at this point would be tantamount to joining those members of the UCLA Slavic Department who were attempting to minimize and cover up the abuse in the first place. Good faith efforts were made, time and again, to use the system already in place to deal with these instances of abuse, but all this resulted in was more cover up and more denial. The thing for these faculty members to do now is to be open, comprehensive and honest with the public concerning the events that took place within the UCLA Slavic Department. These faculty know who they are. They did nothing wrong, they made no attempt to minimize or deny the abuses that were occurring within the Department, they made no attempt to strategize on how best to keep the Department from avoiding responsibility for its actions, and thus these faculty should have nothing to fear by speaking up openly and truthfully concerning the conditions within the UCLA Slavic Department.
Relationships between faculty members at different institutions but in related fields are usually defined solely in terms of scholarly work, although inevitably it is the case that among these professional relationships personal friendships can and do develop. Just as those members of the UCLA Slavic Department who were abusive and/or covered up such abuse will be tempted to turn to their students for support against the charges that have been made in this report, so also will they be tempted to turn to their fellow academics in the field, soliciting support in terms of attestations as to their character, their devotion to the field and to their students, the high quality of their scholarship, etc.
In a sense, this puts these outside faculty in a situation somewhat akin (although not nearly as perilous) as that of graduate students who are asked to come to the defense of their faculty. Obviously these outside faculty are in no position to say that this abuse has never occurred, since they are not at UCLA, and especially since, given the weight of the evidence already available, it would be pure folly to make this claim. The dangers of trying to minimize abuse committed by faculty members at institutions not your own is that someone else at that institution who is familiar with the abusive behavior can trump you at every point, as was seen in this report's point-by-point rebuttal of Bethea/Timberlake's attempts to overlook the abuses of the UCLA Slavic Department in general and the lies of the UCLA Slavic Department Chair in particular. The probable response of these outside faculty will be to speak truthfully, but in general terms about the faculty in question. One may hear statements from them such as "I have never met an academic so committed to his field and so concerned about graduate students." Statements such as these sound good, and they would appear to offer support to any UCLA Slavic Department faculty member who was coming under fire, but one should note as well what is not being said in a statement such as this. While the elements that comprise the statement may be true, i.e. while the academic heaping the praise may in fact have never met someone so committed to the field, and may in fact have never known someone so concerned about graduate students, that does not mean that the academic in question always acts in a manner consistent with those principles. As has already been pointed out above, Michael Heim often acted as a shoulder to cry on for graduate students who had just been skewered by one of the abusive faculty members, and often tried, within the very limited system of academe, to address some issues.
That fact does not, however, excuse his attempts to cover up the abuse that took place in the UCLA Slavic Department, and there is nothing in this theoretical statement of support that implies that he did not attempt to cover up this abuse. It does not excuse him for lying to the Eight-Year Review committee, and there is nothing in this theoretical statement of support that implies that he did not lie to the Eight-Year Review committee. It does not excuse him for lying to the Graduate Council of the Academic Senate, it does not excuse him for breaking the law, and there is nothing in this theoretical statement of support that implies that he did not lie to the Graduate Council and that he did not break the law. It is usually possible to find something good to say concerning just about anyone, and such statements will be made by non-UCLA faculty concerning those members of the UCLA Slavic Department faculty who abused students or who attempted to cover up that abuse, but the questions that should be asked about these statements are 1. Do they deny that the abuse took place? and 2., If so, how do those who make such statements denying such abuse (or actions to cover up or minimize such abuse) know this? In other words, what evidence do they have to disprove the accusations of abuse made in this report and elsewhere? Have they spoken with every graduate student who ever went through the program? Anyone who, in an attempt to support the faculty of the UCLA Slavic Department, tries to claim that there was no such abuse should be ready to back up his or her statements with the appropriate evidence in support of that claim.
It is important to read such statements of support not only for what they are, but also for what they are not, not only for what they say, but for what they do not say.
Unions at UC
Workers at UCLA are represented by a number of different unions — University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), Coalition of University Employees, (CUE), University Council — American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT), Association of Graduate Student Employees (AGSE), the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and others, each of which must negotiate with the UC Administration not only for pay and benefit packages, but also for the rules and regulations that govern their conduct within the University setting, and for what the various thresholds and criteria are when it comes to the application of disciplinary action against any of its members, actions up to and including job termination. These unions should demand that the standards for dismissal for unethical behavior be set no higher for their employees than those same standards are set for tenured faculty. Indeed, the standards for ethical behavior—and thus the potential for dismissal for violating those standards—should be set higher for tenured faculty, since they represent the main function of the University (as opposed, say, to the men's basketball coach, whose role with regard to the main function of the University is peripheral at best).
These unions should not allow themselves to fall prey to the "outstretched hand" coming to them from the tenured faculty. For too long the workers unions in the UC system have mistakenly drawn an artificial distinction between the tenured faculty on the one hand, whom they see to be relatively sympathetic to their cause, and the UC Academic Administration on the other hand, which they see as their natural "management" antagonist. In fact, as this report has attempted to show, these two entities are actually one in the same. Even in instances where there is a legally recognized union for the tenured faculty, e.g. the California Faculty Association for the California State University tenured professoriate, this union is less a union in the traditional sense of labor vs. management, but rather more of a guarantee that the tenured faculty's privileged position as the leading force of the University will be preserved. It is only in the most egregious of circumstances (e.g. the situation at California State University, Chico when Professor Moosa refused to comply with any of the demands by those who were putatively above him in the University hierarchy) that brings the faculty into legal confrontation with the academic administration, and as the outcome of the Moosa case showed quite conclusively, the academic administration that is said to "supervise" these tenured faculty often comes to regret its decision to challenge these tenured professors. While these so-called "unions" do at times play a legitimate role in protecting legitimate faculty interests, all too often their efforts are directed at doing whatever is needed to protect their tenured members, regardless of how outlandish the claims of abuse by the tenured professor. (Again, the Moosa case serves as a poster-child for such outlandishness.)
UC unions should bear this in mind when evaluating the contents of this report. Allowing the tenured faculty to run amok and propping up a system that allows faculty malfeasance to occur unchecked and unpunished is not in the interest of the University workers whose welfare these unions are pledged to protect. Rare is the University employee who does not have his or her tale of what happens when conflict breaks out between a tenured faculty member and a non-tenured university employee. Moreover, the double standard between tenured and non-tenured employees with regard to work performance and the consequences for failure to maintain high performance standards, is striking. There is no reason that non-tenured employees should be held to a higher standard of ethnical and professional conduct than the tenured faculty while at the same time enjoying a lower level of job security than these same tenured faculty.
Student Loan Organizations
One of the dirty little secrets of graduate programs, especially those in the humanities and those that are run by a public university, is that it is often not possible to fully fund all graduate students. The topic of funding has been touched upon elsewhere in this report, especially in Section II, but to revisit the issue briefly here, what often happens is that departments which don't have sufficient funding are faced with an unsettling choice: either preside over a smaller program that funds all of its students, or divide up what funding there is between a larger number of students. This is especially problematic for smaller programs, such as Slavic departments. The fact is that it is extremely difficult for humanities programs such as Slavic in public universities to compete with some of the established programs at private institutions. (For a summary of this phenomenon, see the Los Angeles Times story "Grad Students Turning Away From UC System" by Jeff Gottlieb, October 21, 2001.) In the most recent announcement (http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0310D&L=seelangs&P=R1197) made by Princeton for their program in Slavic Linguistics, incoming students were being offered a five-year fellowship which covered tuition and what was described as a "generous living stipend", as well as summer support and other benefits. Rarely is a state institution able to offer such a package to all of its graduate students.
Unfortunately, some of the financially less fortunate graduate programs at state institutions will attempt to compete with these better funded programs by overadmitting to their graduate programs. At UCLA, a certain amount of money for each graduate student is awarded to the Department, but that money need not go to the student himself. It is thus in the program's interest to have a full-size contingent of graduate students, even if it cannot support that contingent financially. The strategy of the UCLA Slavic Department was to admit students with vague promises of funding, and then when such funding did not appear in sufficient amounts (assuming it appeared at all), encouraging students to take out guaranteed student loans to make up the difference. The Department would then begin its "healthy selection", i.e. its process of culling out students at the masters level, giving them their "low pass" M.A., and sending them on their way with a masters degree in Russian (not exactly a "money producing" masters degree) and a couple year's worth of student loan debt.
In recent years there has been a move to hold colleges and universities accountable for the quality of the education that they provide to their students. (See Excite News, Canada article "Colleges Required to Prove Learning" Sunday, May 6, 2001; by A.P. national writer Arlene Levinson; See also "White House Seeks to Monitor College Graduation Rates" by Dorothy Augustyniak in the March 11th, 2002 issue of the UCLA Daily Bruin — http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/articles.asp?ID=18870) Establishing whether or not a given institution is doing what it claims to be doing should be a crucial component in deciding whether this same institution is worthy of being a part of the federally guaranteed student loan programs. These student loan programs, in which the government guarantees the loans, are made available to higher education and technical/trade programs that are generally held to be reputable. There are many instances of institutions which appear at first glance to be reputable, but then after several years of operation, are seen to be little more than diploma mills, issuing "degrees" and "certificates" that do not allow their graduates to secure the sort of future that is normally implied by the advertisements for these institutions. What happens is that the students take out massive loans to pay for their "education" at these institutions only to find out afterwards that they have no way of paying back those loans, which then results in default, and eventually in the removal of these institutions from the federally supported student loan programs, but not before these institutions have collected tens of thousands of taxpayers' money in profit. (For a transcript of a recent 60 Minutes story on how these diploma mills use the federally guaranteed student loan programs to leave their students saddled with worthless degrees and tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt [For-Profit College: Costly Lesson--Jan. 30, 2005], point your browser to http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/01/31/60minutes/main670479.shtml.)
The situation with UCLA in general and with the UCLA Slavic Department in particular is comparable but not identical. One certainly does not normally associate an institution such as UCLA with the sort of diploma mills that, in order to turn a profit, depend on gullible students willing to go into student loan debt. The default rate on such loans is far greater at the diploma mills than at UCLA. Nevertheless, there are some valid points of comparison. Departments such as the UCLA Slavic Department lure potential graduate students into their programs with a subtle mix of half-truths and vague promises. They know they cannot fund every graduate student, but they never make this fact clear to the aspiring graduate student. Indeed, they do everything they can to underplay this fact. As a result, students expecting funding to come their way are instead faced with the prospect of trying to live in a high cost of living area such as Los Angeles with minimal (if any) funding support and attempting to keep their heads above water financially while competing academically with their fully funded graduate student colleagues. In the scenario which has played out in the UCLA Slavic Department for years now, these weaker students, further hampered by the lack of financial support, are judged deficient and dropped from the program via the very subjective testing system. Although they are disappointed in not reaching their goal of obtaining the Ph.D., from the point of view of the UCLA Slavic Department faculty, these weaker students have played their role and served as warm bodies for the program so that the program can compare itself favorably with other, better-funded programs. As one former graduate student from the UCLA Slavic Department recently put it "The Department needs enrollments and the faculty view graduate students as a renewable resource."
It is in this one respect that UCLA can be justifiably compared to the diploma mills that misuse the federally guaranteed student loan programs. The attrition rate in the UCLA Slavic Department is astounding. Up until the 1999-2000 Eight-Year Review of the UCLA Slavic Department the ratio of the number of students admitted to the number who actually received their Ph.D. was probably somewhere around 7:1 to 8:1, if not higher. One of the common responses to this ratio was that many of the students who did not get a Ph.D. did end up with a masters degree in Russian from the Department. Of course, what the Department does not say is that very few of these students who wound up getting only a masters degree came into the program with that as their goal. Almost all students who come into a graduate program at an institution such as UCLA do so with the intention of getting a Ph.D. Because of the existence of the aforementioned "low pass" masters degree, however, most of those who are forced out of the program go away with at least a masters degree as a consolation prize. As was discussed above, this "consolation prize" of a masters degree serves to take some of the sting out of 1. being rejected from a program and 2. having gone thousands of dollars into student loan debt just to stay in the program. It actually can serve as a bribe of sorts on the part of the faculty, e.g. "We're going to cut you from the program, but if you don't take it too hard and make too much of a fuss, we'll throw in a 'low pass' masters degree in the bargain. Sure, it's a 'low pass' masters, but no one on the outside will know. You can honestly tell people you have a UCLA graduate degree." While this may be true as far as it goes, having a masters degree in Russian or any of the humanities is not the same as having a masters degree in engineering or chemistry where such a masters degree can actually make a difference in one's jobs prospects. In the humanities it is often the case that even possession of a Ph.D. is not enough to secure employment. And, in addition to having little practical value, these "low pass" masters degrees also serve to mask the high attrition rate in departments such as the UCLA Slavic Department by allowing the faculty to point to these recipients of "low pass" masters degrees as "graduates", i.e. as "success stories", at least in so far as those who are outside the system are concerned.
It is for these reasons that the graduation rates of graduate programs—and by "graduation rate" what is meant here is the true graduation rate, not one masked by the awarding of default "low pass" masters degrees—must be monitored in the same way that graduation rates of undergraduate programs are monitored. Institutions—or, if necessary, individual departments within a given institution—should be held accountable for low graduation rates, and certainly those student loan guarantor organizations should be keeping a watchful eye on those departments and institutions that are failing to achieve an acceptable graduation rate. Any such departments and institutions that display the sort extremely high attrition rates seen in the UCLA Slavic Department should be flagged and students matriculated in such programs prohibited from taking out guaranteed student loans to fund their studies. While this might, on the surface, seem to be punishing the student for the wrongdoings of the department/institution, this is in reality a protection for the student himself as it keeps him from enrolling in academic programs that could very well be to his financial and professional detriment.
The University of California is a publicly founded and publicly funded institution. It derives its power and its core funding from the California State Legislature. While it is true that much of its funding comes from outside sources and grants, these outside funding sources look favorably upon the University of California in no small part precisely because the University is a state institution and thus draws much of its legitimacy from this fact. Were the University not to have the full faith and credit of the State of California standing behind it, much of this outside funding would be a good deal harder to come by.
Ultimately, then, it is the taxpayers of California who fund the University and who stand at the base of all three state higher education systems in California: the University of California, the California State University, and the state community college system. For all the talk of outside funding, the University of California belongs to the people of California and thus should, in the final analysis, be answerable to them. If the system is going to change, then the participation of the taxpayers in this change is imperative. Change can happen without input from the people, but it happens much, much faster with their input. If, as a reader of this report, you agree that change needs to come about, then the best thing you can do is voice these concerns directly to the parties most capable of bringing about this change, your representatives in the State Legislature and the Regents of the University of California. (If you are a reader not from California, the method of finding the contact information for your elected representatives described below would work for you as well.)
The process for finding contact information for your elected representatives is very straightforward two-step procedure:
1. First point your browser to http://zip4.usps.com/zip4/welcome.jsp and fill in your address and click on SUBMIT. This will give you your nine-digit (zip + 4) zip-code if you won't know it already. (If you already know your nine-digit zip code, skip to step two.)
2. Copy this nine-digit zip code and then point your browser to http://www.vote-smart.org/, insert this zip code into the appropriate space and click on GO. This will take you to a page that will give you the contact information for your particular members of the California Senate and California Assembly, or for your own home legislature.
For those who also want to write express their opinions to the UC Regents, their contact information can be found at the following URL: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/contact.html
It is possible that you will meet some sort of institutionalized resistance from the Legislature to taking a hard stand vis-à-vis the University, the same type of resistance and inertia that was described above. One thing you should make clear is that the argument against interference in the University's affairs, while in most circumstances valid, is not so in this case given the exceptional circumstances that surround it. Alternative methods, the "recommended" methods of redress, have already been tried and found wanting. In such exceptional circumstances, action by the State Legislature does not in any way constitute a "violation of separation of powers", but rather is exactly what is needed and falls very much within the framework of the Legislature's legitimate duties and obligations. Indeed, the State Legislature should hold hearings on the problem of graduate student abuse, and the creation of an oversight mechanism should be discussed and implemented.
Ultimately, the state university and college systems belong to and are in service to the taxpayers and citizens of California, and as such should respond—or be made to respond—to input from the state's citizenry. The above-mentioned institutionalized resistance and reluctance to get involved on the part of the State Legislature is a reality, not for every member of the State Senate and State Assembly, but for many of them. As a taxpayer and as a citizen, you have every right to request that your elected and appointed representatives take action, in exceptional circumstances, to bring about needed change in the state-supported systems of higher education. If the UC Regents and/or the California State Legislature fail to heed the call for reform, taxpayers in California can always turn, as an option of last resort, to the initiative process (i.e. placing issues on the ballot for a direct vote by the people of California) in order to bring about needed change. Certainly it should, one would think, never come to this, but there have been instances in the past when the people's elected or appointed representatives have failed (or simply refused) to implement the will of the people. If attempts to urge the legislators or Regents to bring about needed reform in the state system of higher education in California fall on deaf ears, then the option of bringing about change via the initiative process should be given serious consideration.
Those Considering UCLA
This segment deals with how UCLA should be viewed by those who are considering a relationship with UCLA, be that as one who recommends UCLA to high school students (e.g. a high school counselor), or to undergraduates who are considering UCLA for graduate school (e.g. a faculty mentor), or as a student considering UCLA, or any of the UC campuses for that matter, for graduate school, or as a potential donor who is considering the bestowal of a financial gift to UCLA or any of the other UC campuses. The purpose of this segment is not to suggest that no one ever recommend UCLA or any other UC campus for undergraduate or graduate study, or that no one ever choose UCLA or one of the UC campuses for graduate study, or that no one ever donate to UCLA or one of the other UC campuses. It is intended, however to make clear to potential students, donors, and those who would recommend UCLA as an institution of higher learning just exactly what the potential is for productive study at UCLA or at any of the UC campuses.
— Counselors, Faculty Mentors and Others Who Might Recommend UCLA and UC to Their Students
Counselors who are considering recommending UCLA, or any of the UC schools, to their students should be aware of what protections are, and more importantly, are not, afforded these students at schools such as UCLA, and their students should be made aware of this as well. This is not to say that every academic department at UCLA or at every UC campus is as abusive as the UCLA Slavic Department, nor is it to say that any student who chooses to matriculate at UCLA or any of the other UC campuses will undergo the abuse experienced by graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department. What this report does show, however, is that if such abuse does occur, then there are very real limits on the choices available to students in terms of responding to that abuse and there are very real limits as to what the University itself is willing to do to stem that abuse and protect its students. Students have a right to know this and then to judge the risk for themselves.
— Students Considering Study at UCLA and UC
Students who are considering applying to UCLA for undergraduate or graduate study need to be aware of the potential for abuse that exits for graduate students at this institution, or at any of the UC campuses. To be fair, most other major institutions of higher education in this country have the same system of tenure and the same lack of faculty accountability, so there is no guarantee that by eschewing UCLA, a potential graduate student would not end up in an equally abusive environment. And, again, it is very important that potential students who are considering UCLA understand that just because the situation in the UCLA Slavic Department was very abusive towards graduate students, not every graduate program at UCLA is like that of the UCLA Slavic Department in this regard. There are programs at UCLA in which the faculty, by and large, is not abusive, and in which graduate students are treated not as indentured servants but rather are valued as future colleagues, and are afforded a level of respect commensurate with that position. To repeat, however, just because some programs are good and some programs are not abusive toward their students does not mean that all the programs are like this. Again, it comes down to students having the right to know what they are getting into before they make a life-changing decision on which undergraduate or graduate institution to attend. Should these students ultimately choose to attend UCLA or one of the other UC campuses then they will have done so with the full knowledge that there may come a time during their tenure as a member of one of these institutions during which they will have to face the same scenario that graduate students in the UCLA Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures faced.
— Those Considering Donating to UCLA and UC
Two of the main sources for outside monies to find their way to UCLA and other campuses of the UC system is through alumni and other donations, and by the securing of grant money from various sources. Central to this process is the reputation of the University, and the trust that those who would donate to the University have that their donations will be used properly. Should those who would donate to the University lose trust in those who run the University and in those who will be in charge of the gift that was presented to the University, the consequences are obvious.
The unfortunate fact is that the UCLA Administration has made it clear that, when it comes to University affairs, the quest for truth is not at the top of the agenda. Those who would consider donating to UCLA, and those institutions which are considering the awarding of grant monies to UCLA, would do well to make sure that their donation will be going to the area in which they intended it to go and that it be used in a manner consistent with the conditions under which the grant/gift was bestowed upon UCLA. In addition, potential donors and grant-givers would be well advised to demand some sort of oversight of just exactly how their financial contribution to the University is being used. As was pointed out in Section VII, if UCLA is willing to go to such incredible lengths in order to lie and cover-up abuses within a small academic program such as the UCLA Slavic Department, then to what extent would the UCLA Administration be willing to lie and cover up about larger issues?
Academe in General
Because of the nature of the academic system that is currently in place, i.e. the Moosa-ization of the higher education system and the lack of faculty accountability in terms of their conduct within the University, certain abuses are almost certain to arise. The rules, conventions, and traditions at that level, both official and unofficial, combine to make such abuse almost an inevitability.
Similar rules and conventions exist at even higher levels of academe; some are official, others are unofficial and simply understood. Such rules and conventions change very slowly, if they change at all, but it is worthwhile pointing them out in the hope that some reform at this level might occur, however incremental that change might be.
• One of the first things that needs to change is the institution of academic tenure. It is among the most prized privileges of the faculty and they will not readily broach change in it, but without change in the nature of tenure, there can never be any guarantee that the sort of abuse that was visited upon the graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department by that department's faculty will not recur.
Just because change in the institution of tenure is being advocated here, this should not be confused with an attempt to do away with the institution of tenure in general. Tenure, defined in the way tenure was originally meant to be—the right to publish what one wishes and the right to teach what one wants without fear of reprisal or termination—is an important and necessary part of the system of higher education. What needs to change is the extent to which tenure has crept into every nook and crevice of the academic system in general, to the point where no part of the academic's behavior is challengeable or punishable by the academic administration that, in theory, is situated above the faculty and charged with ensuring quality work and reasonable behavior on the part of this faculty. When the UCLA Academic Administration, or the California State University, Chico Academic Administration, or any academic administration, is too afraid or too weak to even enforce its own rules, then something is radically and deeply wrong.
• Until such reform does take place in the system of academic tenure currently in place throughout most of academe, there exists the problem of abusive and/or unproductive faculty who, in effect, refuse to leave, even after they have reached retirement age. Since there is no such thing any more as a mandatory retirement age, tenure must be amended such that it no longer extends to those who have reached what used to be the mandatory retirement age. Back when such mandatory retirement ages existed, it may have been unpleasant to have an abusive or unproductive faculty member in a department, but at least everyone knew that at one point this faculty member would be forced into retirement. With the demise of mandatory retirement ages, this in effect allows faculty members to stay on until death if they like, regardless of how badly they teach, how hostile their actions, how egregious their behavior. While it may now be the law that there is no more mandatory retirement, there is nothing that requires academic institutions to extend academic tenure indefinitely. Once a faculty member has reached retirement age, tenure should be removed. If that faculty member is still able to do his job at a high level, then he can be rehired on a year by year basis, but if not, or if that faculty member has been abusive or unproductive, then the University would have the option of not extending his employment. The professor would have his pension and the University would have a chance to start anew.
• Just as was the case with the Enron scandal, WorldCom scandal, etc., where the call went out for maximum transparency, this too must be at the core of reform:
-Transparency in Teaching
One of the main tools that faculty have at their disposal when it comes to weeding out students from their program is the fact that they are rarely challenged as to how they come up with the grades that they give. This is especially true in graduate school, and especially in the humanities. Faculty often reply that for them to detail how they come to decide what grade to award to any given student would be impossible (as one faculty member once said, "How do you quantify a poem?"), and often these same faculty will also point out that forcing them to detail their grading criteria would be a "violation" of their academic freedom. The second response is simply an acknowledgement that the Moosa-ization of academe has been seized upon by the tenured professoriate and pronounced legitimate, while the appropriate response to the "impossibility" argument, i.e. to the rhetorical question posed by literature faculty "How do you quantify a poem?" is straightforward and simple: "What are the criteria you as a literature professor use to assign grades in a literature class? When you assign grades, you are in every sense quantifying the degree to which you know (or claim to know) your student has/has not mastered the material presented in the course, so use those same criteria to 'quantify' the degree to which your student has succeeded in this task."
Once control is reestablished over faculty—that is to say, once the Moosa-ization of the University system has been reversed and tenured faculty can be held accountable for their failure to teach and evaluate scholarly work effectively and fairly—much more stringent standards should be put in place for grading, standards by which the grade assigned by the individual faculty member can be quantified and thus justified. In the case of the UCLA Slavic Department, it was precisely this lack of accountability in the grading process that provided so much power to the faculty in question, and which allowed that faculty, at times, to misuse this power by assigning students who fell out of favor greater workloads and by awarding grades in a manner not commensurate with the extent to which a student has mastered the presented material, but rather commensurate with the extent the student has succeeded in pleasing that particular professor.
-Transparency in Comprehensive Exams and Dissertation Defenses
By far the major weapon in the arsenal of the UCLA Slavic Department faculty when it came to culling students from the program is the system of comprehensive exams. As is the case in most comprehensive exams in academe, the exams in the UCLA Slavic Department were wide open. While they would begin on relatively simple topics, there was no telling in which direction they would go after that, something the faculty openly admitted. There were times when students were asked questions that different members of the faculty had different opinions on, leaving the student stuck in the middle, with predictable results. While dissertation defenses in the UCLA Slavic Department were usually pro forma, there were a few instances where the open-endedness of the process also took off on its own. In other institutions of higher learning, this "open-ended" process can be more concentrated in the thesis defense than in the comprehensive exams, and in still other institutions, it is present in both the exams and the defense.
The problem with these exams is that they are in no way objective. The student, and the public that supports the University, is simply supposed to believe that the faculty, with its "years of expertise" must be able to somehow simply "know" who is ready and who is not and who will never be ready. This opens an enormous door through which subjective opinions can be entered into the equation. When the unfortunate student who has just failed such an exam or defense has the temerity to ask why, he is often told that the particulars of the decision making process can't be revealed, but only that the committee as a whole felt that his performance/thesis just was not up to standards. (Standards that apparently are not written down anywhere but apparently simply exist inside the minds of his examiners, and thus, are accessible only to them. Strangely, these same examiners often cannot verbalize what these standards are, they simply claim to be able to "know" when these ephemeral standards are, or are not, met, and for anyone else to press them too hard on defining these standards is to risk, once again, "violating" their academic freedom.)
Faculty will, of course, dispute this description of the examination process, but the fact is that the more nebulous the criteria for success on exams or dissertation defenses, the greater the ability of the faculty to engage in arbitrary behavior should they choose to do so. To say that the process for documenting the extent to which a given student has or has not mastered a well-defined set of knowledge and facts cannot be made quantifiable is simply not true. Those who say it cannot be in fact really mean that they do not want it to be made quantifiable, because then their decisions regarding the passing or failing of an individual candidate could be more easily held up to scrutiny. It is noteworthy that many of those faculty who dismiss the notion of quantifiable exams are the same faculty who, in graduate student application process, place enormous weight on GRE scores (Graduate Record Examination), a sort of SAT for aspiring graduate students. Clearly it is possible to have legitimate quantifiable testing procedures at the graduate level. It is only a matter of the institutions of higher education themselves having the will power to introduce such procedures. The more quantifiable the exams, the less potential for subjective interpretation and subsequent abuse of the process, and the more transparent the process becomes. We do not live in the Middle Ages. Accordingly, medieval methods of instruction and testing should no longer have a legitimate place in higher education.
-Transparency in Funding Decisions
As has been explained above, the distribution of funding is one of the most effective tools that a departmental faculty has at its disposal for use in controlling its graduate student body. Few graduate students anywhere can hope to complete a doctoral program without funding of some sort, and certainly not in high-cost areas such as Los Angeles, the Bay Area, New York, etc. Transparency in funding must begin before a student even accepts a department's offer of admission. The scenario described above in which a department over-admits students, taking in students without guaranteeing them funding but holding out the possibility of funding in order to get these non-funded students to matriculate, must end. Ideally, no graduate student should ever be without funding. Just to use the UCLA Slavic Department as an example, at the time of the External Review team's visit to UCLA, Bethea/Timberlake's rough estimation of the "Time to Degree" for graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department was over nine years. Students in this department actually grow into middle age while matriculated there, saddled with the sort of funding hardly adequate to live even a semi-normal life, assuming that they are funded at all.
Prospective students may not have a right to funding, but they do have a right to the truth. The practice of waving promises of "possible funding" in front of the face of prospective graduate students must end. If a graduate program is unable to fund its graduate students, then it might be the case that the University needs to take a long, hard look at whether or not such a graduate program is justified. There are cases where students have actually turned down sure funding at one institution in order to pursue graduate studies at departments who over-admit and then try to fill all their slots with promises that cannot be kept. Transparency demands that departments be up-front and aboveboard concerning the funding they claim to provide to students.
Also consistent with this policy of transparency is the public posting of the allocation of funding within a department. In the Eight-Year Review report, the members of the External Review team came out against such posting, claiming that "publicizing the actual ranking of all the students [with regard to graduate student funding] can be divisive and ought to be avoided". The desire to avoid divisiveness and questions of privacy concerns should not, however, be allowed to override the more important issue of preventing faculty abuse vis-à-vis the funding process. If funding is going to be awarded by the faculty to some students and not to others, then the faculty must be ready to explain and justify their decisions in this regard.
-Transparency in Hiring Decisions and in Tenure Decisions
In Section VII of this report the attitude of academe in general with regard to hiring decisions and tenure decisions was exemplified by the statements of UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale, when he said to students upset at the denial of tenure to a popular professor "I am not going to discuss this case...That would be like if someone called me and asked for your grades." This, of course, is nonsense, an embarrassingly weak attempt to equate two very different things, but this is typical of the sort of excuses the academic establishment will throw out in an attempt to prevent transparency in the hiring and tenure processes. Another common rejoinder to attempts to lift the veil of secrecy behind these decisions is that it is only by keeping these processes secret that the University can ensure that those who make the decisions will freely and openly participate in the discussion and offer up their honest appraisal of the candidate in question. The arguments against this position, already discussed in detail at the beginning of Section VII, essentially boil down to the position that if part of a tenured professor's duties is making hiring and tenure decisions and an individual is unable to make such decisions to the best of his ability in an open setting, then that person should not be hired as a professor. Or, if the educational institution is unwilling to lose the intellectual contribution that these scholars (those who, for whatever reason, are unable to make hiring and tenure decisions openly and on the record) would make to the university or college, then it should remove these duties from the tenured professoriate.
What should not happen, however, is that hiring and tenure decisions continue to be made in the dark, for when there is no light shining on these processes, the potential for abusing them grows rapidly. Contrary to what the tenured professoriate might want the public to believe, there need be no mystical opacity fogging the hiring process and the tenure process. Hiring and tenure committees are not the College of Cardinals and these committees are not choosing a pope. As long as the public is supporting institutions of higher education—and one should note here that even private colleges and universities are the beneficiaries of large amounts of government funding—then these decisions should be made openly so that the public that supports these institutions can see that their tax dollars are being used responsibly. The public has that right.
• "Prestige" of the University and How Such Prestige is Measured
One of the main problems with the situation in the UCLA Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures was that for all the years that this abuse of graduate students was going on, the Department itself was still one of the most prestigious in the country, at least if one were to ask people familiar with academe. Sure, there were whispers in the field about actually going to UCLA to attend graduate school, but the Department itself was, by the usual criteria employed to determine academic prestige, one of the best in the country, and arguably the best in the country when it came to the linguistic side of the house. In spite of its small size, the Department was thought to be, as one high-ranking UCLA official put it, a brightly shining jewel in UCLA's crown.
This can be traced directly to the problem of how the academic world measures "prestige". For years now, for decades even, the debate has raged in academe between what the primary role of the professor should be. Should the professor be a teacher primarily, or should he primarily be a researcher? This debate usually takes place among competing assertions, namely that professors make better/worse teachers as a result of their research activity. One of the reasons this debate is never concluded is not because it is difficult to judge good scholarship (although sometimes this is a problem), but rather because of the fact that, due to a lack of clear-cut criteria as to what constitutes good teaching, it is next to impossible to rate the teaching ability of individual professors, and thus impossible to settle the debate. Of course, certain academics are so outstanding in terms of their teaching ability that they quickly garner a reputation among students, but not even a reputation is quantifiable.
This is a much more difficult question than most people outside of academe, and even inside of academe, realize. One cannot use the average grade as the class as a whole as a measurement of whether or not the teacher was effective since different teachers have different standards for what constitutes an "A" vs. a "B", a "B" vs. a "C", etc. Even in situations where grading standards are fairly uniform, not every student comes into a given class equally prepared: some have more background and ability, others have less. Thus, if a professor were to have a class of overachievers, they might learn a great deal, although not necessarily because of the pedagogical skill of the professor, and conversely a class of less gifted students might struggle even in spite being exposed to a highly skilled pedagogue. The high number of variables in this equation makes such objective and quantifiable analysis of a professor's teaching ability problematic to say the least.
And yet, such objective and quantifiable analysis of teaching is exactly what is needed, and what should be developed, regardless of how difficult it may prove to be, if for no other reason that absent such analysis, the "default setting" in terms of judging a given professor's "prestige" is to go by his publications. When this happens, the stage is set for the type of abuse that one sees in the UCLA Slavic Department, because when abusive faculty who have impressive publication records are challenged, there is very little on which to consider the challenge other than the publication record, since there is no fair, objective standard by which to challenge the professor. If the student lodging the complaint is protesting a grade, then the faculty member 1. first of all points out that anyone other than he who would attempt to have any say whatsoever in a grade assigned to a student in his class would be violating his "academic freedom" as a professor, 2. would claim that the material is inherently "unquantifiable" ("Who, after all, can quantify a poem?") and go on to imply that the grade he has assigned is the result of X number of years of experience in teaching students as well as a number of other factors all having to do with the knowledge and expertise he has acquired during many years in academe, and thus, anyone who is not privy to his vast knowledge and expertise would simply be unable to assign the correct grade that this particular esteemed scholar was simply able to intuit. What is happening here on an individual scale is the same thing that happened with the UCLA Slavic Department on a departmental scale, namely the desire to keep all criteria for success as nebulous as possible, for the more nebulous these criteria, the more freedom the person or institution charged with making final decisions has to act in a manner consistent with his own wants and goals, regardless of whether or not such decisions are academically justified. This is the very same problem, on a smaller scale, that occurs with regard to comprehensive exams and dissertation defenses.
The question that arises at this point is as follows: how does all this talk of quantifiable and transparent grading processes tie in with the issue of a given college's or university's prestige? It is relevant in that the most commonly accepted indicators of academic prestige are almost always connected, either directly or indirectly, with the research done by the faculty at that institution. And indeed, what else can those who would speak of academic prestige (and let's not kid ourselves—that number includes just about everyone in academe) use to measure such prestige? The most important task of a university or college, to teach those students in its charge, can only with the greatest of difficulty be measured by outside sources, while the publication record of faculty and all that comes with it—grants, conferences, and sometimes even economic rewards—are much more easily accessible and reviewable. The result of this imbalance is that it is publication and research that always win the day whenever the question of research vs. teaching comes up. Because this imbalance is predicated on the continued opacity of the teaching and grading process, it cannot be addressed until opacity is replaced with transparency, and subjectivity with objectivity and with quantifiable teaching- and grading standards. There are a number of reasons academe rejects such standards: they would be difficult (but not impossible) to articulate and to implement, but even beyond that, they provide no advantage to the ruling class of academe, to the tenured professoriate who runs the university. Indeed, making their decisions challengeable and providing standardized criteria by which those decisions could be challenged would force the tenured professoriate to pay attention to their teaching and would force them to either take responsibility for presenting material and testing it in a fair and quantifiable manner or else face the consequences for failing to do so.
Indeed, such a shift would change the very nature of what is deemed "prestigious" in the world of academe. No longer could an institution, when questioned by the taxpayers who support it, simply wave a list of publications and grant recipients in the face of the public and claim that the institution is performing at the highest level. No longer could a department such as the UCLA Slavic Department point to its many journal articles and books and then contemptuously wave off any criticisms directed at the way it teaches or the way it tests or the way it treats its graduate students. Prestige in academe needs to be defined much, much more on how well it accomplishes the mission of teaching. However important research may or may not be in the overall mission of an academic institution, what should be inviolable is the idea that no matter how important the research, it should always—always—play a secondary role to teaching. The following quote from a Los Angeles Times editorial ("Academe's Scuffle for Prestige". November 6, 2004) sums up nicely the current problem with universities' and colleges' conceptions of "prestige":
" Real change would involve mutating the tenure system to reward teaching. It would also require a new measurement of prestige, based on the quality of students' educations rather than the fame of the faculty. Research and scholarship are part of what makes American higher education great, but they shouldn't be allowed to overshadow the mission of teaching the next generation of leaders — or to drive tuition beyond the dreams of most families."
If a professor can both teach at a high level and research at a high level, then fine. If one of the two areas ever has to suffer, however, it should never be his teaching. This should be the foundation of prestige in the academic world. Certainly when the public at large who supports public education is asked what should be the main role of colleges and universities, they always respond in favor of teaching. By keeping standards muddled, however, and by eschewing quantifiable teaching and testing practices, the faculty have slowly been able to move away from this obligation, claiming either that research is equally important, or (much more commonly) that research "complements" teaching, and thus makes it better. (For a recent attempt at this, see the commentary "We Need Professors in the Labs as Well as in Classes" by Marlene Zuk in the December 13, 2004 issue of the Los Angeles Times.) By keeping the system as it is, this in effect gives the tenured professoriate a free pass not to work on their teaching. After all, if teaching plays no real role in achieving "prestige" for the university, then how can individual faculty members be faulted for paying only lip-service to questions of teaching, testing, and fairness?
The system of basing an academic institution's prestige on its teaching and research (as opposed to on its teaching or on the way in which the faculty interact with undergraduate and graduate students) has definitely been the system that has been in place at UCLA throughout the years. When the present Chancellor, Albert Carnesale, first came to UCLA to interview for the position after the retirement of long-time chancellor Charles Young, he knew very well the system that predominated at UCLA. After all, this was someone coming from Harvard University, one of the nation's preeminent research institutions. He was being hired, in effect, by the tenured professoriate of the University, and as such he knew that he would be representing their interests first and foremost. As a part of his campaign for the position, the one leitmotif that always ran through Carnesale's pitch to the faculty was not his desire to see UCLA take seriously its teaching duties, and it was not his desire to see graduate students treated fairly and with respect. While he may have paid lip service to these and other worthwhile goals, the one thing that came up over and over again was his desire to see UCLA turn into not only one of the top ten universities in the country, but one of the top ten universities in the world. And how does one turn an academic institution into one of the top ten universities in the world? Through the acquisition of prestige, prestige that is defined by its traditional academic criteria, success in research and funding. By the repeated expressions of his desire to see UCLA move into the top ten universities in the world, Carnesale was sending a message to the faculty: I understand your desire to see the system of privilege maintained, and if possible strengthened, and I will work with you to achieve that goal. Carnesale was essentially telling the faculty, I am one of you and I will represent your interests. Confirmation of this attitude on Carnesale's part could be seen three years later in the review of the UCLA Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. In spite of overwhelming evidence of abuse and undeniable evidence of lying and illegal activity, Chancellor Carnesale, much like Michael Heim, did the job he was brought here to do: he protected, first and foremost, the interests of the tenured professoriate. There was going to be no official investigation of the UCLA Slavic Department on his watch, no investigation to determine guilt or innocence, no professor was going to be reprimanded, much less terminated. Not on his watch. It is not as if he did not have the facts at his disposal. Graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department were constantly told that this matter was being taken up at the highest level of the University, a euphemism that allows for very little room for interpretation. And yet nothing was done to punish the abusers or to make right the wrongs done to the generations of UCLA graduate students who had suffered at the hands of the abusers. Who knows, perhaps in his own mind Carnesale justified his inertia by saying that publicity would only hurt the reputation of UCLA and thus harm its "prestige". This only Carnesale can know.
Of course, UCLA is far from unique in this regard, especially among major research institutions. However prized this attitude and this approach to measuring prestige are to the tenured faculty, the time has come for academe as a whole to begin the process of moving away from this particular construct and moving towards a definition of prestige which would require institutions of higher education to develop quantifiable and objective standards not only for students' success, but also for the evaluation of the professoriate's teaching ability. The present state of affairs only guarantees more such departments like the UCLA Slavic Department will be seen in the future. Such a change of attitude must start from without, from those whose tax dollars support higher education, since a change such as this will surely not be internally generated: why would tenured professors want to implement a system in which the degree to which they can or cannot teach well can be quantitatively measured? This makes more work for them and takes away their ability to shrug off criticism by claiming that only they have the "experience" to intuit a proper grade. Few tenured faculty members would welcome the prospect of actually being held accountable for their teaching, but in order for the system to change, such accountability must be introduced into the equation. Failure to do so is tantamount to leaving this well-nigh unlimited interpretive power in the hands of the professoriate, a power they can use to promote their agenda in any way they see fit, even if that means unfairly treating some graduate students.
• The Use of Recommendation Letters in Academe
The "recommendation letter" has long held a hallowed placed in the halls of academe, as well as in other areas as well, such as employment, promotion, etc. The advantages to such letters are that they give a prospective employer (or academic department considering an applicant to its graduate program) an idea of what another academic thinks of a particular candidate, an academic who, presumably, has had an opportunity to work with this person and is in a better position to assess this individual's potential for either graduate school or for a position in academe. The problem with recommendation letters is that some individuals and institutions in academe rely too much on them, to the point where a single recommendation letter (or worse yet, the failure to secure a recommendation letter from a "prestigious" scholar") can cost a candidate a shot at a job or at the graduate school of his choice. One of the reasons that the faculty in the UCLA Slavic Department held the power that they did was that these individuals could, with a single stroke of their pen, either give flight to, or shoot down, an academic career before it has even begun. The writing of recommendation letters is where so much of the unchecked power of the tenured faculty is preserved. Given the lack of objective criteria by which to judge candidates for graduate school and for outside jobs, letters of recommendations take on disproportionate influence in the acceptance/hiring process, and thus those who write such letters are placed in a position of substantive power.
While it might not be possible to end the practice of using recommendation letters for acceptance to graduate school or as a part of the employment vetting process, their influence should not be as great as it is. Academic departments and their faculties should be well enough versed in their own fields to be able to evaluate the qualifications of candidates for both their graduate programs and for new academic hires without having to fall back on recommendation letters. While academic departments will usually claim that the recommendation letter is merely one component of an overall larger and more comprehensive process, the reality on the ground is that these letters are enormously influential. An otherwise very marginal candidate who had a very strong letter of recommendation from someone like a Noam Chomsky or the late Jacques Derrida of UC Irvine could very well be accepted into the program as a graduate student or receive a position as a result of such a strong letter. While this fact may seem implausible to those outside of academe, those within know that this happens all the time, regardless of how much they might try to downplay the significance of such letters.
The solution to this problem, ideally, is to do away with letters of recommendation all together, and to institute in their stead a vetting process for graduate school acceptance and new hires that is thorough enough and sophisticated enough to judge applicants on their merits, on what it is that these applicants have done, as opposed to on what others claim these applicants have done. This would, of course, mean more work for those who are doing the hiring or acceptance committee work for graduate school candidates, but that is as it should be. Until such time that the use of recommendation letters can be ended, their influence in final decisions should be proportionate to what they really tell the hiring/accepting faculty about the candidate. In addition, what the person writing the recommendation letter says about the candidate should be confirmed, if at all possible, by examination of the candidate's own records, and the hiring/accepting faculty should not take such recommendations as infallible, but rather should give the candidate a chance to respond to what is said in the recommendations, both for bad and for good. Finally, in the spirit of transparency and openness, the hiring process should itself be quantified. Not only should the votes of each faculty member on a given hire be open to the public, but the decision making process should be formalized as well and the weight of the recommendation letter, if it is to count at all, should be made clear. Five percent? Ten percent? Whatever it is, there should be a precise formula that others outside the department and outside the university can examine. Again, the idea here is that the more open the process, the less able any one individual involved in that process will be able to accrue and use inappropriately a disproportionate amount of influence and power in the process itself.
• Culture of Professional Courtesy
In Section II of this report the issue of "professional courtesy" was discussed in connection with the disciplining of faculty members. Because the "oversight" of academics, at least as it is currently configured, allows only other tenured faculty members to enforce discipline on their tenured colleagues, this puts those who would be asked to discipline their colleagues in an unenviable position. This has been discussed in detail in Section II, but the short version is that what is understood under the rubric of "professional courtesy" must change. When an academic feels that his obligation to project solidarity with his fellow academics outweighs his obligation to be honest and to defend those in the academic system who are in no position to defend themselves (e.g. graduate students) from those of his colleagues who are abusive, then he has confused his priorities. This culture of professional courtesy should no longer be interpreted in such a way as would discourage tenured professors from calling their tenured colleagues on matters of abusive behavior towards graduate students. Ideally, of course, there will at some point be a new level of oversight of academics, true oversight, not just tenured colleagues going through the motions with one another. Until that time, however, the only people truly capable of holding tenured faculty members in check are their tenured colleagues. To point to "professional courtesy" as a justification for not doing anything, as a justification for turning one's head while students or others are being subjected to abusive and demeaning behavior, should no longer be tolerated. "Professional courtesy" should not be cipher for "Faculty Code of Silence".
Individual Graduate Students: Past-Present-Future
The question of what graduate students—former, current, and prospective—can do to address the problem of faculty abuse is a complex one, primarily because there are so many factors involved and so many of these factors are tied to the unique situation of each graduate student. Still, there are general guidelines that students can follow, and change can be brought about. See, for example, Section IV-J for the graduate student "Bill of Rights" passed by the UCLA Graduate Student Association in response to the abuses that went on in the UCLA Slavic Department.
The fact is that, with the ubiquity of the Internet, abuse of graduate students no longer has to remain the shadows. This report first aired on the Internet, and other students have also exercised the Internet option. (At UCLA, the first example of this was seen with the School of Architecture and Urban Design, when graduate students set up a website several years ago to protest abuses and changes in the program that were deleterious to the graduate students. The website, http://www.uclaaud.org, is not longer active.) Students are more and more coming to realize that the one thing that their faculty dread more than anything is bad publicity. When graduate students shine a light on abuse, this is the one weapon that cannot be combated by those who perpetrate the abuse. By providing your own first-hand account of what is going on, you tear away the façade of an enlightened and nurturing environment that your department and your institution so desperately want to project to the public who support them with their tax dollars. Because you are right in the thick of things, you have a credibility that few other people have, and you have a perspective that almost no one else has.
If you are a graduate student undergoing abuse at the hands of your faculty, then in today's world the fact is that this state of oppression exists only with your cooperation. There is a socialization process that begins with your first application to graduate school and lasts until your last day in graduate school, one that encourages you not to directly confront oppressive conditions. If you are still in graduate school, you have no doubt internalized the underlying fear that speaking up will ban you forever from the field, i.e. you will never get a tenure track job because you will be seen as a malcontent and a troublemaker. If you are one of the many who were forced to leave graduate school, either because of the system itself or because of a lack of financial funding, you are then encouraged by the system to "go out on a high note." Sure, your "failure" to complete graduate school is an example of your not having the "right stuff" (or so the system will tell you), but at least go out with a modicum of class, don't leave spouting accusation after accusation at a system that you may happen to feel did not treat you fairly. After all, a lot of people do finish—why were they able to finish and not you? The seeds of self-doubt that were planted early on in your grad school experience and which nurtured throughout your trek through graduate school then blossom into full fractious flower, leaving you believing that perhaps it was all your fault after all.
Do not fall prey to this way of thinking. There are a number of options available to you regardless of whether you are a former graduate student, currently a graduate student, or even a prospective graduate student.
Former Graduate Students: Speak up. If you are out of the field and thus can no longer be threatened, speak up. By virtue of the fact that you were right in the middle of what was happening, you possess a credibility far beyond that possessed by anyone else. In addition, who knows better than you what was happening in your individual department and how students were treated there? If abuse was happening, then expose it and help those who are coming up so that they won't have to go through what you went through. One of the most perverse arguments used by those who justify the retention of this medieval system of scholarly indentured servitude—a characterization of the system that was actually voiced publicly by one of the worst abusers in the UCLA Slavic Department—is that they themselves went through it, so those who are now under their tutelage should also go through it. You are in a position to break this cycle, especially if you are out of the field and can no longer be held hostage to their threats not to write for you, to block your publications, and so forth. Because of the Internet, you do not need large sums of money to expose the abuse going on. In fact, you can do so with a very small expenditure of funds. And do not hesitate to involve the media. If you can tell your story in a coherent and cogent manner, and if you have some documentation to back it up, the media will indeed be interested in your story. Only you, however, are in the position to make clear to the media exactly what is happening and exactly how this abuse occurs and how the system is set up to deflect responsibility for such abuse. Reporters will question and challenge your accounts, and rightly so, but even if your documentation is skimpy, just the fact that you are willing to speak up, and speak up truthfully, will resonate with the media.
If you, in your post-graduate school life, are in a financial position to seek legal redress, then by all means do, but do so in an ethical manner—unless your position allows you no other reasonable alternative, do not bring suit and then allow them to buy your silence with settlement money. The system will change only as more and more abuse comes to light. For years people remained silent about the Enron scandals and for decades silence has protected the abusers of the Catholic Church. Whatever you do, do not become complicit in the cover-up process. Take your knowledge and experience and use it to hold their hands to the fire and force them to tell the truth about the situation that you and your graduate school colleagues underwent while in their charge.
Not all former graduate students are in a position to speak up. Those who finished and have jobs in the field, or former students who have finished but have yet to land a tenure track job or have yet to get tenure, are in a difficult position. You still need the ties you have with some of these faculty members in the UCLA Slavic Department, and there might well be pressure placed upon you by them to counter the facts listed in these this report with regard to individual incidents of abuse and violations of the University regulations and the law itself (or in any other report that details the wrongdoing of any other faculty member).
Early in this report it was made clear that, for all the abuse that was perpetrated against graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department, not even the worst of the abusers were always—at every single moment—abusive. If you as a former student still dependent upon whatever power/influence these abusers may still retain, e.g. for help with placement, tenure recommendations, etc., are placed in a position where you have to say something positive about either one of the abusers or any of faculty members who worked to cover up or minimize the abuse (Michael Heim, Bethea/Timbelake, etc.), then choose one of those incidents in which they were not abusive, but do not allow yourself to be dragged down with them, e.g. if they ask you to make a statement countering a specific allegation, be very, very sure you can honestly counter it. If not, then simply limiting your comments to incidents where they did act in a non-abusive manner, or simply making a general comment should suffice. The present report has for the most part avoided using names of faculty members whose names were not mentioned specifically in the report, but another report of individual acts of abuse is being prepared, so whatever you do, do not put your credibility on the line with statements of support that are demonstrably false. If you got through the UCLA Slavic Department graduate program, then you are already well practiced in tiptoeing through minefields, so you probably already know how to approach the problem. As was the case when the UCLA Slavic Department attempted to lie its way out of the charges made in the 2000 Eight-Year Review report, every attempt, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential, to employ the "lie-and-deny" strategy with respect to this report will be similarly rebutted, patiently and in detail, point-by-point. Do not allow yourselves to be caught making demonstrably false statements concerning the abusive behavior of the faculty, lest you subsequently be hung out to dry with them.
Current Graduate Students: You, for obvious reasons, are in the most precarious position of all. Many of you have dedicated years and years of your lives to attaining your Ph.D. and are understandably reluctant to act in a manner now that would jeopardize your receipt of that which you worked so hard to attain. Let us begin with what you should not do. Regardless of how bad the current system of academe is, it will not change overnight. If you have hopes of continuing on in your graduate program and in being a viable candidate for a tenure-track job yourself, then you must proceed with great caution. The reality is that a student who demands that his rights be respected and that he be treated in a respectful manner does indeed run the risk of being labeled a trouble-maker and a malcontent, with all that this implies for finishing your program and for getting a job later. The one thing you do not want to do is to make some very public attack on those faculty members in your program who are abusive and disrespectful towards graduate students.
First off, you must accept the possibility that there may be no way for you to bring about change in your department while at the same time remaining a viable candidate for the Ph.D. and for meaningful employment afterwards. If such a possibility does exist, however, then it will be through existing channels, working within whatever oversight apparatus exists in your institution (e.g. for UCLA, the Eight-Year Review process). If you haven't been doing so already, you should be documenting your trek through graduate school, saving all documentation concerning funding, your progress through the program, exams—everything, especially email communications. For those email communications that are especially important to your case, you might consider actually printing them out and placing them in a safe place in case anything happens to your hard-drive. Always, always, always document individual instances of abuse of graduate students by faculty members, including time and date. Even little things that might not seem significant can, when taken together with other bits of information, show long-term patterns of behavior.
One of the worst things about graduate school, even in non-abusive departments, is that one often feels that one's options are severely limited. Unlike undergraduate studies when one can usually find a way to avoid the worst professors, this is not always the case in graduate school, especially in small departments such as the UCLA Slavic Department. To the greatest extent possible, current students should seek to keep open all of their options and seek out new ones as well. If, as a graduate student, you can afford legal counsel (and let's face it, not many graduate students can afford it), then retain such counsel, even if you are not planning on proceeding legally at this time. An attorney can advise you on how best to position yourself so that when the time does come you will have the best possible chance of achieving positive results. Another way of keeping options available to you is by keeping open channels of communication with educational institutions to which you applied earlier for graduate school, but then turned down in favor of your present institution. More than one student in the history of the UCLA Slavic Department have gingerly extricated themselves from the program and quietly transferred to other more humane and caring departments.
If you are a graduate student currently matriculated in the UCLA Slavic Department graduate program, then you fall into one of two groups, those who were here before the Eight-Year Review in 2000, and those who have been admitted afterwards. Those who were here before the review in 2000 know more or less what the Department was like and are familiar with the attempts, some sincere, some superficial, to reform it. Those of you who entered the program after this date may or may not be familiar with the details. In spite of the UCLA Slavic Department's best efforts to hush up the results of the 2000 Eight-Year Review, unquestionably word leaked out to the greater academic community as a whole, as graduate applications dropped precipitously even after the Graduate Council of the Academic Senate ignored the recommendations of the Internal Review Committee and acceded to Michael Heim's request to reopen the Department to graduate student applications. At one point the Department was practically forced to beg one of its own undergraduates to apply for the Ph.D. program. Things now have improved somewhat, but these newer students will face the same problem as the longer-term students, and that is how to deal with the loss of prestige in the UCLA Slavic Program after the release of this report.
The fact is that the UCLA Slavic Department, prior to the 2000 Eight-Year Review, tolerated the abuse of its graduate students, and then attempted to cover up that abuse. After the 2000 Eight-Year Review, the Department actively attempted to cover up its own recent history when interacting with potential graduate students and thus misrepresented itself to these students. It is precisely for these reasons that all students of the UCLA should be afforded the option to transfer, at no cost to them, to any department, be it Slavic, Comparative Literature, or General Linguistics, at any UC campus of their choosing, and be fully funded for the duration of their graduate study. Those of you who are current graduate students in the UCLA Slavic Department should not be shy in demanding this. You are the true victims here, you were the ones who were abused and/or lied to, and you are the ones to whom recompense and flexibility is due.
Prospective Graduate Students: Prospective graduate students to any program should be aware that the sort of scandal documented here with regard to the UCLA Slavic Department might also be possible at the department to which you are applying. Given the wide latitude in behavioral norms that academic tenure (as tenure is currently defined) will allow, there can never be a guarantee that the department you choose would not also be abusive. There are certain questions that you can ask at the outset during your interviews that would help you to discern whether the conditions in the department might be suggestive of possible abuse. During the interview process you should press for details and numbers, including:
— What percentage of incoming graduate students actually leave with a Ph.D. in hand?
— What percentage of incoming graduate students end up getting tenure track positions?
— What percentage of incoming graduate students actually end up getting tenure?
— What percentage of the program's graduate students are fully funded (i.e. funded to the point that they need don't work outside the University itself)
— What is the average time to attainment of the PhD?
— On average, how many years of full support does each graduate student receive?
If you can possibly afford it, engage a lawyer to review any support offers made to you by the department to which you are applying.
As graduate students, you are in an odd and in some respects contradictory situation when it comes to the question of faculty abuse directed towards those in graduate school. On the one hand, you are about the most vulnerable member of the academic community. You have very little, if any, actual institutionalized power, you are by definition a temporary member of the overall university community where you are doing your graduate work, you have very little money, and your fate as a scholar could very, very well depend on your not alienating some of the very same professors who are visiting the abuse on you and/or your graduate school colleagues. On the other hand, you above all people have a grounds-eye view on exactly what is happening in the department in question. You have the power to let those outside of academe know what is happening in the universities and colleges that they support, and you should not allow yourself to be fooled into thinking that your professors and academic institutions don't know this as well. They do. It is precisely this reason that an unofficial and yet very real code of behavior prevails in academe, with this code's values being time and again inculcated into the graduate student body. Graduate students who complain about the lack of quantifiable data by which to check their progress and standing in the program are told to "grow up". They are told that they are in graduate school now, not in grade school, where someone holds their hand all day long. When graduate students complain about exams and defenses and tests that list no firm criteria for success beforehand but rather are dependent upon the "expertise" of the professor or professors in charge, they are told that they are adults now, and that they cannot expect to have exam questions hand-fed to them. In effect, they are told that whatever the faculty does or whatever the faculty wants should be considered the equivalent of a reasonable action or a reasonable request in the context of graduate school ("Hey, this is graduate school, not a Sunday school picnic...Don't you think we had to go through the same thing when we were graduate students?"), while any objection to the lack of clarity, accountability, and transparency in the system is met with suggestions, some muted, some overt, that the student or students doing the complaining are somehow lacking in maturity, or that they somehow just "don't have what it takes". (Of course, given this lack of clarity, accountability, quantifiability, and transparency in the testing process, it is impossible for anyone other than the faculty to know who does and who does not "have what it takes" since the criteria exist solely within the minds of the faculty themselves. And remember, you dare not ask them to put these criteria on paper for fear of violating their "academic freedom".)
The old Eleanor Roosevelt quote "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" is fine as far as it goes and you can listen the whole day long to Bob Marley telling you to free yourselves from mental slavery, but the fact is, when you are around these attitudes day in and day out and when they permeate so much of your lives as graduate students, it is possible to begin, be it consciously or subconsciously, to soak them up by osmosis and to actually start believing in them. When graduate students begin to believe these positions, they find it that much more difficult to object to the conditions under which they are struggling. Given the fact that there are no objective criteria for success, perhaps they think to themselves that they do indeed lack "the right stuff". In low moments it is easy for a graduate student to talk himself into believing that which is being said all around him, especially when such opinions have been "ratified" by senior scholars, the very same scholars that made the student want to study in this particular department in the first place. Working hand in hands with presuppositions concerning the innate "correctness" of the faculty's judgment with regard to worthiness of the student (or lack thereof) are those presuppositions to the effect that protesting against the faculty simply "does no good in the long run." Students are encouraged to believe that this is the way it has always been and thus, they are told, the logical corollary is that this is the way it will always been. One can throw a hissy fit and try to change the system, students are told, but such efforts really would amount to nothing more than tilting at windmills, thereby confirming the immaturity that lies behind such attempts to change the system.
It is the inculcation of such notions that the faculty and the academic institution in general hope will keep the graduate student from standing up for himself when faced with abusive behavior. The facts, however, are quite different. Not every student protest leads to change, but many do. Not every student who stands up to the University and demands that it right the wrongs committed in its name comes up empty-handed. It may seem that way simply because so many settlements that are reached are predicated on confidentiality agreements regarding the terms of that settlement. While faculty might present a united front in defense of their near unchecked power within the system, the fact is that their power, although usually "unchecked", is not "uncheck"-able, if—and this is a gigantic "if"—if one takes the fight outside of the academic system itself, where all rules and presuppositions are bent in favor of the faculty. The very moment the dissatisfied student moves outside of the established academic system into the realm of public opinion or the legal system, academe reacts very quickly, knowing that failure to do so puts at risk the privileged status enjoyed by all tenured faculty. Imagine walking into a darkened, fetid kitchen and, simply by turning on the lights, setting off a flurry of cockroaches anxiously scurrying to regain the darkness. An odious comparison—perhaps—but accurate in describing academe's utter aversion to light being shined on its inner workings. You, as a graduate student, have the power to flip that light-switch, and make no mistake about it, the faculty and the university know this very well. The aforementioned "serf mentality" (i.e. the idea that serfs and servants count for so little that their masters may openly flaunt society's laws and rules in front of them, since the word of a serf would mean nothing against the word of the master anyway) on the part of some faculty members goes a long way toward giving you incredible access into the inner workings of an academic department. You, above all people, have the credibility because you are right in the midst of the program with close, everyday contact with the faculty, and if there is abuse in the department no one sees it before you do, or with such clarity.
This credibility is your greatest strength, and because of this one must take steps to preserve it. Credibility is easily lost, and once lost, is not easily regained. The examples in the Eight-Year Review report of the UCLA Slavic Department can attest to this fact. As a graduate student who has witnessed abuse or been abused himself, you are no doubt justifiably angry at those who treated you in this fashion. When recounting these events, the temptation will be to paint as bleak a picture as possible. To the extent that you can portray the negatives as accurately and as comprehensively as the facts allow, you should do so, but whenever emotion comes into play, the temptation is often to go beyond what the facts allow. However understandable this temptation, you should not give in to it, for to make accusations that are untrue, or even wildly exaggerated, will in the long run only hurt your credibility and give ammunition to those against whom your accusations are made, allowing them to posit a rhetorical question to the effect that if some of what you allege is demonstrably false, then who is to say that all of what you say is not false? Stick to the facts and back them up with as much documentation and eyewitness testimony as you can. (This is the reason that it is so essential that graduate students document each incident of abuse, even if they are not sure that they will actually act on that documentation. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.)
The frustration that you as an abused graduate student, or as a graduate student in a department in which abuse of graduate student occurs, is very valid and you have every right to be frustrated, but it is much better to do things deliberately and accurately than to go off shooting at the hip. Some graduate students, even when they have decided that enough is enough and that it is time to take action, do so having yet to shake off the inculcated belief that there is nothing that can really be done to transform the system, that the system is invulnerable to real change, and that as a result nothing will ever really improve. Speaking up when you believe that there is absolutely no hope for change (which is rarely the case) is still better than not speaking up at all, but can lead to your approaching this task in an inefficient and haphazard manner. Some students who have adopted the "things will never change" attitude are so despondent and so angry that they actually resort to violence. It seems as though every five or ten years or so one reads of a graduate student who uses violence to strike back at those who he felt were acting abusively toward him. The most famous of these cases is probably that of Theodore Streleski, who in 1978 bludgeoned his Stanford thesis advisor to death, but there are other examples as well, including fatal attacks on faculty Harvard in the mid 1980s and at California State University, San Diego in 1996. While according to the dark humor that defines much of graduate school life, no graduate students accused of such attacks would ever be convicted by a jury of their peers, it goes without saying that any application of physical violence (much less a fatal attack) is wrong and can never be justified. The point of the reference to such attacks here, however, is to exemplify what happens when anger and frustration resulting from the belief that the system will never change are not addressed in a measured and acceptable way. If violence is to be done, then let it be done to the system that allows such rampant abuse of graduate students to occur. Use your mind and your critical thinking and writing skills to bring awareness of such abuses to the public at large.
If you as a graduate student have been abused and are ready to take the steps to put an end to your abuse and to the system that allows it, the best first step (paradoxically) is to use whatever system the University has in place to stop abuse and to discipline errant faculty. As can be seen from the description of this system in the case of the UCLA Slavic Department, it is doubtful that this alone will bring about the desired change, but what it will do is show to the outside world, i.e. to the public at large, that you made every effort to work within the existing system in order to bring about change. In addition, by working within whatever oversight system does exist you can make clear your determination not to allow it to be hijacked and actually used to camouflage an abusive department with a façade of collegiality. The 2000 Eight-Year Review of the UCLA Slavic Department is a case in point. It was made clear to the investigating committee from the very beginning that graduate students in this department were not going to allow that review process to be gutted and turned into the sham of a review that happened eight years earlier in 1992, when Slavic Department graduate students were actually told how they should respond and what they should and should not say to the reviewers. When you, as a graduate student, tell the reviewers that you will not go along with attempts to minimize and cover up abuse, when you demand anonymity as your right and as the price for your participation in the process, you will force whatever oversight process that is in place to take seriously your charges and to conduct a real investigation. When you demand that those who are investigating apply the same degree of skepticism to the responses from the faculty as they do to the responses from the graduate students, when you demand that these investigators, probably tenured faculty themselves, approach their investigation without the presuppositions that tend to favor tenured faculty in disputes with students, you will force them to take the process seriously.
This, of course, is no guarantee that the process itself will work as it is supposed to work. In fact, as we have seen in the process involving the UCLA Slavic Department, even if the initial investigative process were to uncover abuse and cover-up of that abuse, there will probably be many layers above the initial investigative level that would serve to muffle and diffuse dissent by drawing out the process and paying lip service to change while in fact doing everything to preserve the system as it exists. What one gains by forcing the those who run the oversight apparatus to seriously examine the department and its faculty is that it can often force the department and its faculty into making statements that are put on the public record, and as one sees in the Eight-Year Review of the UCLA Slavic Department, when the faculty starts to panic, they begin to say anything and everything in their attempts to preserve the status quo. As one falsehood after the other is rebutted, the faculty eventually begins to struggle in the quicksand of its own lies.
When this happens, you as a graduate student should be ready to afford such contradictions maximum exposure. Obviously, if you restrict your avenues of exposure to those which are more or less tacitly "approved" by academe this will have the effect of eventually consigning your observations of the abuse that has transpired to the ash heap. To the extent that you can do so and not put too great a risk on yourself, you should seek to disseminate this information as widely as possible. Take this report as an example: its dissemination will be primarily through the Internet, through various list-serves and by email notification to the UC Regents, to every member of the California State Senate and Assembly, to various literary, linguistic, and Slavic programs, to taxpayer advocacy groups, and most importantly to the print and airwave media, among others. The last point is especially significant, since the media represent one of the two forces (the other being the aforementioned legal option) that has the greatest power to bring about change, since it is these media that have the widest possible connection to the public at large. As a graduate student you might think that any sort of public exposure of the type of behavior described here would be enough to bring about instantaneous change, and perhaps that should be the case, but unfortunately it is not. Just because the abusive behavior of one department at UCLA has been partially exposed, and just because the attempts to cover this abuse up have also been partially exposed, and just because the apparatus in place at UCLA that was putatively there to ensure that abusive behavior would not escape detection was in fact shown to be an apparatus used to cover up abuse, none of these facts means that a simple act of exposure will force the institution to be shamed into bringing about change.
For one thing, as has been pointed out above, many of the institutions are incapable of changing policies even if the leadership wished to, since so much of this behavior is predicated on an interpretation of tenure as being both complete freedom from legitimate oversight in matters such as teaching, testing, and grading, and also virtual carte blanche to act in any manner an individual faculty member sees fit, without repercussion. Any attempt by an academic administration to curb such abuse would immediately be rejected as an infringement of this expanded definition of academic freedom. As for an academic institution responding to shame, well...academe is amazingly durable when it comes to facing up to issues which would shame other institutions. To expect others in academe to actually stand up and criticize the UCLA Slavic Department and its faculty, the UCLA Academic Administration, or those who are abusive or accepting of abuse at your particular institution is to be unjustifiably optimistic. There is a well known Dostoyevsky story in which a high government official, under the influence of drink, tries to disproves the claims of his equally highly placed colleagues to the effect that the upper classes could never, contrary to his own liberal beliefs, mix comfortably with the lower classes. Walking home in his alcohol-lightened state, he stumbles across the wedding of one of his underlings, crashes the wedding party thinking he is both proving his point and honoring them with his presence, but in fact only serves to make everyone uncomfortable because of the large difference in rank and ends up more drunk than before, ruining the wedding for everyone. Thoroughly embarrassed, this official absents himself from work for weeks, too abashed to face his colleagues at work, only to find out that when he does work up the courage to return, everyone treats him as though nothing had happened. And why do his colleagues not upbraid and criticize him for his hypocrisy? Because to do so would mean leaving themselves open to having the hypocrisy of their own lives examined, since both he and they were all a part of the same system, based on the same set of presuppositions and thus vulnerable to the same sort of criticisms.
The same situation predominates in academe. Most institutions of higher education offer the same type of tenure that is found at UCLA and thus have the same potential for abusive behavior on the part of their tenured faculty toward graduate students. While individual faculty members might take the suggestions given in this report to heart and begin to stand up to those of their tenured colleagues whose behavior toward graduate students is inappropriate, most will not. While there might be some general comments on how it is a shame that these things happen from time to time, and how such behavior is unfortunate but hopefully an aberration, etc. etc., the fact is that most academics will look upon what is happening to the faculty of the UCLA Slavic Department and academic administration at UCLA and cast a sigh of relief that such investigations are not going on in their department or on their campus. In other words, most will look upon what has been happening here and, instead of feeling righteous indignation and becoming motivated to bring about change in their own department, will simply say a little prayer and think to themselves "There but for the grace of G-d go I."
This is precisely why simply exposing abusive behavior on the part of faculty is not enough to bring about change. The nature of this abuse and the nature of the system that fosters this abuse must be exposed not only to other academics, but to those who ultimately support higher education, to taxpayers and friends and potential students and college counselors; to state legislators and college and university regents, to alumni, to incoming students, to graduate student advocacy organizations, to media outlets; to Internet sites and to chat rooms and to wherever else such information might be relevant and appropriate. In short, the only way things will change is if pressure is brought on academe from the outside. As a graduate student or ex-graduate student, you are not only in a position to bring these abuses into a public forum where they can be seen and discussed, but almost equally as important, you are able to put them into a context, to show the outside world what is actually happening to graduate students, and to thwart attempts by faculty and academic administrations to spin the facts and manipulate them in such a way as to downplay the significance of what has been revealed. The wider the exposure, the greater the potential for real change. If you have indeed been truthful and gone out of your way to present a balanced account of what has happened to you and/or your graduate student colleagues, the results will speak for themselves. The most difficult step that you as a graduate student will have to take, as is the case with many things in life, will be the first one.
This is a difficult step for all the reasons that have been discussed above. Many of those who are the most abusive towards graduate students may also be the same scholars whose presence in your department influenced your decision to matriculate there. If you for years have endured abuse at the hands of those same faculty members whom you at the same time have admired for their scholarly and intellectual abilities, you know the psychological difficulties involved in standing up to such abuse. In most abusive relationships, there is always a perverse element of dependency that the abused feels vis-à-vis the abuser. Many of those victimized in the Catholic Church sex scandals would say that one of the reasons that they were so torn is that the very people who were abusing them were the same people in whom they had put so much trust, and for whom they had such great respect. Moreover, these same figures were so well respected, and situated so high in the mental hierarchy of those abused that the very thought of doing anything to protect themselves by challenging those on high seemed an almost impossible task. And yet, the truth is, nothing is easier. If you have the truth on your side, simply by standing up and showing those who abuse that you are no longer cowed by them or by their pretenses of power, you completely undercut the illusions on which their power rests. In his essay "On Getting Along" (accessible at a number of websites, including http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/1999-03/mar7_1999.htm), Howard Zinn, professor emeritus at Boston University and a columnist for The Progressive, makes the following observations how our belief in the near limitlessness of a given person's or institution's power can often contrast radically with the reality and limits of that same power. Although he is speaking here of overtly political activity, the same principles apply when challenging an institution as established and venerated as higher education. Among the points he makes are the following:
• First, don't let "those who have power" intimidate you. No matter how much power they have they cannot prevent you from living your life, speaking your mind, thinking independently, having relationships with people as you like.
• Understand that the major media will not tell you of all the acts of resistance taking place every day in the society, the strikes, the protests, the individual acts of courage in the face of authority. Look around (and you will certainly find it) for the evidence of these unreported acts. And for the little you find, extrapolate from that and assume there must be a thousand times as much as what you've found.
• Note that throughout history people have felt powerless before authority, but that at certain times these powerless people, by organizing, acting, risking, persisting, have created enough power to change the world around them, even if a little.
• Remember, that those who have power, and who seem invulnerable are in fact quite vulnerable, that their power depends on the obedience of others, and when those others begin withholding that obedience, begin defying authority, that power at the top turns out to be very fragile.
• When we forget the fragility of that power at the top we become astounded when it crumbles in the face of rebellion. We have had many such surprises in our time, both in the United States and in other countries.
Zinn's comments here, meant to apply to political issues, also are relevant to the struggle confronting graduate students. As was pointed out above, however, if you are currently a graduate student, you should not be so inspired that you throw away any chance of finishing your degree program in your attempt to bring about change. It is also important to point out at this juncture that however much the tenured professoriate or anyone else may try to paint this effort to regain control of an academic institution gone out of control as a right-wing coup of sorts for attacking academe and its academic freedom, or as a left-wing coup of sorts designed to topple the privileged and powerful and seize power for those at the bottom, it is in fact nothing of the sort. Every movement that wants to succeed usually attempts to label itself as neither left nor right, but in this instance, that is truly the case. This is not an instance of forcing professors to teach right-wing dogmas such as the evils of affirmative action or left-wing dogmas such as the inviolability of Roe v. Wade. Academics have and should continue to have the right to teach whatever they feel is the truth as they see it, free from outside interference and threats of termination associated with what they teach and publish. This is purely and simply about demanding that these tenured professors adhere to basic instructional, testing, and grading norms, and demanding that they do the job that they are hired to do and do so in a fair, equitable, transparent, and open way. It is about setting reasonable limits to the power of the tenured professoriate such that the abuses that often occur in graduate school, for example in the UCLA Slavic Department, could actually be brought to check. It is about establishing real oversight of the teaching and mentoring aspects of university academic programs, the same sort of oversight that any employee of any institution should expect.
There are some who will accuse you as graduate students of political betrayal for participating in an exposé of the abuse of your fellow graduate students, but the question that needs to be asked in the face of such accusations is as follows: what actual political position or principle is being betrayed by exposing abusive behavior, and how exactly does this hurt either conservatives or liberals? If the answer is that it hurts neither, then the next question is, what was the real intent behind the accusation? A genuine concern that a given political philosophy or movement may be harmed, or something less sincere? The reality is that you as a graduate student are in the position to bring about change, but change does not just happen, it is made to happen. When you are in an abusive relationship, you can and should do whatever is possible to expose this abuse. The very fact that you are in graduate school attests to your ability to express yourself in a cogent and rational manner and to make a logical argument. Mark Twain, when asked to define the purpose of writing and the writing profession, gave the following response:
"Ours is a useful trade, a worthy calling: with all its lightness and frivolity it has one serious purpose, one aim, one specialty, and it is constant to it--the deriding of shams, the exposure of pretentious falsities, the laughing of stupid superstitions out of existence; and that who so is by instinct engaged in this sort of warfare is the natural enemy of royalties, nobilities, privileges and all kindred swindles, and the natural friend of human rights and human liberties."
Now, it may be hard for you as graduate students to imagine academe as a place of "shames, pretentious falsities and stupid superstitions"...then again, maybe not. What should not be hard for you to imagine, however, is you using your own abilities to shine light upon the abuses that you have either seen or undergone personally. Regardless of whether or not you are a graduate student, you, like everyone, are deserving of respect and decent treatment. The problem with the current system, the problem with the current attitudes that faculty (some faculty, not all faculty) hold toward their graduate students is that the current attitudes are exactly the same as attitudes held in the distant past, with the exact same repercussions on students' psyches and welfare. In 1903, over a century ago, William James wrote the following in The Ph.D. Octopus: "We dangle our three magic letters (Ph.D.) before the eyes of these predestined victims, and they swarm to us like moths to an electric light. They come at a time of life when failure can no longer be repaired easily and when the wounds it leaves are permanent." For those who say that graduate students should, instead of taking action, bide their time and wait for others to change the system, the obvious response to that suggestion is to ask just exactly how long should graduate students wait? Five years? Ten years? Another hundred years?
The time to act is now. If you are severely restricted in your current situation (e.g. if you are a graduate student with minor children and thus dependent upon university housing for yourself and your children), then of course you must be maximally circumspect in whatever actions you choose to take. Every student must decide for himself what degree of involvement is appropriate given his own circumstances. Even if a student is not in a position to come out and openly advocate in favor of reform, there are still things that can be done. Just making sure that that others in academe are aware of this particular website (http://www.graduatestudentabuse.org) will help to spread the word. If nothing else, pass the URL around to the widest possible array of friends, acquaintances and (anonymously, via a Yahoo or Hotmail address, if need be) to officials, employees, faculty and administrators of your educational establishment, to media, to whatever organization or individual you think would be interested and/or capable of exerting influence on the system as it presently exists. (The same two-step process that was described in the section on taxpayers above can be used to find out who the political representatives are who represent your political area, namely 1. First point your browser to http://zip4.usps.com/zip4/welcome.jsp and fill in your address and click on SUBMIT. This will give you your nine-digit (zip + 4) zip-code if you don't know it already. 2. Copy this nine-digit zip code and then point your browser to http://www.vote-smart.org/, insert this zip code into the appropriate space and click on GO. This will take you to a page that will give you the contact information for your particular elected representatives.)
Change cannot come about until people realize that change needs to come about, and the more the word gets out, the quicker that change will be realized. Those who defend the current system will come out and ferociously attack this report, claiming that it exaggerates and paints an overly bleak picture. It is your response as graduate students that will make a difference. If you see your professors quoted in the media giving a defense that you think is unjustified, contact the writer of the story or the editor of the paper and ask if you can give a dissenting opinion without being identified. Newspapers and other media understand that you as a graduate student are not in the same position as those in power, as those with tenure who cannot be fired and thus have the freedom to speak up publicly whenever they want. By challenging those who would defend the system and the abuse it engenders, you make the most important contribution that you can make, you help to keep the spotlight on the problem. And even once changes are made, transparency has no meaning if there is no light shining on the system, if there is not a continual oversight of the way that the system treats those students entrusted to its care. Even if you do not have solid evidence in support of what you are claiming, if your claim is the truth, then by all means say so. Who knows, in the court of public opinion those who are defending the old system might still win the debate, but that is the very point: there can be no debate in the court of public opinion if the public has no idea of what is going on in our institutions of higher learning. If the type of abuse that was meted out in the UCLA Slavic Department remains a dirty little secret, along with the cover-up apparatus in place at UCLA and other institutions like UCLA, then there is no way that the public can reasonably expected to debate, since one cannot debate topics about which one has no knowledge, and this is exactly the way the academic establishment at UCLA and elsewhere wants the situation to remain.
The power to bring about change that you as a graduate student have is far greater than most of you realize. In spite of the academic establishment's efforts to make it seem as though the system as it exists today is eternal and unchanging, those who hold the power, the tenured professoriate, know very well the power that you have. It is precisely because they realize this that they will go to such lengths to ensure the stability of the system and to cover up the sort of abuse that was seen in the UCLA Slavic Department. The very last thing in the world that this academic establishment wants is for you as graduate students to know just how powerful you are. The old story often cited by literary scholar Terry Eagleton about why people like to go see lions at the circus applies here. When it comes to a power balance between the lion tamers and the lions, the audience certainly knows which of the two groups is more powerful. So do the lion-tamers. The only real unknown, the very question that creates the show's tension and anticipation, is whether or not the lions themselves know.
Silence only appeases the sort of abuse seen in the UCLA Slavic Department. You, as graduate students, have the power with your candor and with your insight and with your writing and analytic abilities to shake this system to its core. Whatever you can do—be it outright confrontation via as many media as possible or be it simply getting the word out anonymously about this report or be it anything in between—the greatest contribution you can make to your fellow graduate students and to future graduate students is to take action. Graduate students are not serfs, they are not servants, they are not academic pack animals, they are not incidental to the educational process, they are not a "renewable resource" there only for the benefit of the tenured faculty, they are not cogs to be used by a larger corporate academic industry. We are human beings, and we deserve to be treated as such, and to the extent that graduate students stand up and demand to be treated with fairness and dignity, to that same extent we will finally begin to liberate ourselves from this archaic system of scholarly servitude and from the emotional abuse and thuggery that accompany it.
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