Early this morning, I had a very edifying and enlightening conversation over Twitter with a supportive administrator from an undisclosed university. By supportive, I mean that she demonstrated she is supportive of adjunct causes and does her best to make a difference in her school for the many adjuncts who are underemployed and overexploited. Through our conversation, I could tell that she was hurt by some of the angry rhetoric that was being directed at all administrators, categorically, regardless of what their personal histories were on the subject. What began as a public Twitter thread then continued as a private conversation and served to remind me of the importance of treating all people as individuals, with respect and compassion, regardless of their perceived affiliation. It is all too easy to vilify every administrator and to ignore the many that are trying to right the wrongs of higher education and are simply hamstrung by a broken system, even causing them to question the efficacy of their presence in such a profession. And so I wanted to share a few more notes, building on my blog post from the other day about angry versus collegial rhetoric http://drarikgreenberg.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-usage-of-angry-rhetoric-in.html.
Angry, aggressive rhetoric on Twitter, or any other form of social media, such as Facebook or the blogosphere, goes a long way in organizing, in making the disempowered and disenfranchised feel as if they have an outlet for their anger, a forum in which to air their grievances, and a platform full of other like-minded people. But the down side to this is that it can potentially alienate sympathetic administrators who may happen to view the post. I know that I have made this mistake in my short time organizing at my university. They are people too, and they have feelings. But we have to consider the personal histories of each administrator, their life choices, their challenges, before we can lump them into the same category as the “oppressor”.