Giles’ Quotes Unbelievable
It’s unlike me to wait so long before I say what’s on my mind. However, with the Emory departmental cuts, I wanted to see my school pull through with a convincing and sound argument.
When I read Evan Mah’s article quoting professor Micheal Giles though, I literally couldn’t take it anymore: “Who is this person, and how is this real?” Did anyone else think that for a minute? I felt like I was reading Fox News-worthy logic — a Twitter parody, maybe (although, not as good as Dean Forman’s). We read the quotes aloud in class, and I couldn’t stop laughing: “This is a joke, right?” I kept repeating, thinking my professor accidentally picked up The Spoke.
What struck me enough to say something, then, was when I started thinking about why Giles’ quotes are so ludicrous. I mean, truly, who admits to intentionally hiding critical information and then justifies it by saying, “you should have seen it coming?” These statements are meant to jar us in similar ways that someone like Ann Coulter might — Giles, the hateable character full of quips that seem hypocritical to his background in the judicial process. Isn’t this a trope we’re more than used to?
It didn’t quite set in until a group of my friends and I were talking about the rally on Friday. One of my friends had a previously-scheduled appointment that day with Michael Elliott, the senior associate dean of faculty, and mentioned having trouble entering the Administrative building. That is, the elevator wouldn’t take him to the top floor. It wasn’t until the administrative assistant, Lynette Lee, spotted him having trouble and mentioned the building was on “lock down” that he was let in through a gated and locked stairway next to the elevator. Elliott then explained upon my friend bringing it up that the administration wasn’t sure what the students would do and was “worried.”
Perhaps the view from the fourth floor is distorted, but the only rallying call I heard was for dialogue. Did the administration really lock their doors and cower under their desks under the pressure of peaceful protestors? The rally really did rattle them, but my question, again, is why? Why are they so scared? Thinking about why the administration might be so scared and thinking about why they allowed Giles to spout off like he did makes me wonder if Giles is a scapegoat and whether that’s more strategic than not. If we’re thinking, “He’s so outrageous!” we might not ask some more serious questions about the implications of what he and Dean Forman have been saying. For instance, what other departments were considered leading up to the cuts?
That is, if this committee has been meeting since 2007 and evaluating multiple departments, who else would have been cut if NBB needed eight million instead of six million reallocated dollars? Philosophy? Anthropology? Women’s Studies? How many more people would be out on the Quad demanding dialogue if we knew where our own (safe for now) departments stood in the rankings of “eminence” at Emory?
Another question we might be too stunned to consider is, what does the administration really mean when it says they’ll keep supporting tenured faculty? If someone is tenured and has built an entire program that requires adjunct professors to support it, will the administration retain that support or ask the professor to abandon the curriculum they’ve developed to dabble in a variety of subjects semester by semester? If that’s the case, then that’s really more of an invitation to leave than anything else.
I wonder how much bigger of a reaction we would witness if all the potential departmental cuts as well as tenured faculty were asking these sort of questions. I admit that I wasn’t as concerned with the cuts at first, but when I reflect on this administrative decision, I see wider implications that might affect my department, and I love and care for the people who work in it. It makes me think of Wislawa Szymborska’s poem titled “Here” that describes the sensation that at any moment, we could blow through the cracks. With that in mind, it’s hard not to stand up and say what you notice when what you notice might threaten what you love and care for.
Thinking about these departments and programs as loved and cared for is important. It brings me to my final questions. Does Emory know what it’s cutting? I’d like to read the evaluations that delivered these departmental cuts and understand where Emory understood value. Does it account for the ways in which visual arts expands and complicates dialogues in the sciences? Does it figure how studying a language can unlock new philosophical ideas?
Or perhaps because journalism isn’t funded to have a graduate program, its undergraduates’ experiences aren’t enriched by applying investigation and critical analysis outside of an essay.
I don’t know if these cuts are reversible, but I can imagine the University has time to engage its students in a fair and honest dialogue about how to move forward. My chief complaint about Emory is always and forever whether it lives up to its tried motto of “Access. Equity. Unity.” However, I hope that I was right in the beginning in thinking that we can pull through on this one.
Conrad Honicker is a College student from the Class of 2014.