A Welcome-Back Newsletter From Your President

With tongue in cheek, Christina Wyman shares a campus leader’s plans for the year ahead -- and especially for this implicit bias module season.

October 22, 2021
 
 
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Dear faculty and staff:

Hello! It is my pleasure to personally welcome you back to campus this year and to call your attention to a couple of important items. Please consider this your first newsletter from me, your university president.

This year, considering all that is going on in the world and on our campus, you should expect to receive a minimum of three newsletters per week. We are excited to announce that, unlike in newsletters past, there will be a quiz at the end of each forthcoming newsletter. This only means that you will have to complete a short assessment to prove that you’ve read my newsletters.

Because your accounts are tied to your electronic devices, you will not be able to resume normal activities on your computer or cellphone until you complete said postnewsletter quizzes once our tracker indicates that you’ve opened your email. (For obvious reasons, I never include the word newsletter in my subject lines to you. All my emails will be marked urgent to further obscure your interpretation of its contents.)

This week, you will receive invitations to complete eight modules: Diversity in the Workplace, Inclusion in the Workplace, Implicit Bias in the Workplace, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, Trauma in the Workplace, Misconduct in the Workplace, COVID in the Workplace and -- my personal favorite -- Work/Life Balance in the Workplace.

Please do not take my use of the word “invitation” literally. For all who are new to the university, I use “invitation” and “expectation” interchangeably. Please keep an eye out for future invitations, including to the university “welcome” breakfast, lunch, dinner and dry happy hour that I am hosting across the next week at my estate. My home is but a mere 45-minute drive from campus, and I’ll anticipate your prompt arrival. (During these events, you will be asked to upload at least one selfie to the university’s main Twitter account as evidence that you were in attendance. This is how the provost and I plan to take attendance. Creative hashtags are encouraged.)

By completing these university modules, you are contributing to a happier, safer and more inclusive campus. Each module should take approximately three hours, and I’m sure you’ll find that the time flies. Please note that you have exactly two weeks from today to complete these assignments, and I’m sure you will find them most educational. You’ll receive bonus points and glowing letters in your file if you complete them within the week. Do note that the university withholds your paycheck if you neglect to accept these invitations. A simple withholding of pay is what we refer to as Incentivizing Practices. You’ll see more about our new system for Incentivizing Practices in future newsletters. Our Work/Life Balance module offers some introductory insight into this innovative way of securing faculty compliance.

As your university president, I wish to remain fully transparent with you. In developing these modules, we worked diligently to gloss over and distract you from our institution’s long-standing and widely known track record of racism, sexism and most other -isms that have come to define university life, particularly for our minoritized student and faculty populations. Following this, we hope you’ll be inclined to forget all about our failure to work toward appropriately diversifying our predominantly white student body and faculty. And last but certainly not least, we are positive that your successful completion of these modules will help you to look past the pending lawsuits against our university for failing to handle Title IX complaints correctly alongside our refusal to lead the campus in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

We are sure you’ll agree: absolutely nothing can rectify a university’s institutionalized failings better than scapegoating our faculty. Above all, we hope that these modules will distract you from the fact that faculty are leaving the profession in droves.

Indeed, by inviting our faculty to complete these modules, our university is able to say that we’ve done our due diligence. We look forward to inviting you to complete more modules in the near future. Please click here for your first postnewsletter quiz.

Best wishes for a peaceful and productive year.

Signed,

Your university president

Bio

Christina Wyman (@CBWymanWriter) is an adjunct professor at Michigan State University. Her debut novel, Jawbreaker, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2023). Her essays appear in Writer’s Digest, The Guardian, Marie Claire, ELLE magazine, Ms. magazine, The Washington Post and other outlets.

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