Provost Marty Krauss, whose field is mental retardation, wrote a letter to a professor at her institution, Brandeis University... a letter which did not have the effect she, its writer, intended. Instead of gaining the faculty member's cooperation in what she asked of him, she alienated him, and, on top of that, ended up alienating almost the entire faculty of the university.
The provost has now provoked arguably the largest crisis in faculty/administration relations in the history of Brandeis.
This unfortunate result was not merely a matter of writing style, of course -- the provost, on skimpy evidence, decided the faculty member had so wounded the racial sensitivities of his students that he must be severely punished, with speech monitors posted to his classrooms, required sensitivity training, and other humiliations.
But recall that Schopenhauer called style "the physiognomy of the soul." Consider the provost's writing style, and consider her soul as it discloses itself in her words.
Careful analysis will reveal that whoever appointed Krauss to her position failed to note certain, er, character issues.
'I am in receipt of Jesse Simone's letter to you regarding your violation of Brandeis University's Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy. [ I am in receipt instead I've read ... regarding instead of about ... Krauss uses regal language to establish a superior, threatening tone from the outset.] In accordance with the applicable procedures governing investigations under such a policy [ Note the absolutely cold inhumanity of this language. It's disgusting and disrespectful to write to your faculty as if they are machines.] ... I am charged with determining what corrective action shall be taken and/or sanctions imposed [and/or is always a nice warm touch].
[Note that Krauss has already disclosed, in this tight-lipped, robotic language, that she is enraged. Bad move.]
I, as Provost, am extremely concerned for the welfare of the University's students. [I am the Great and Powerful Oz.] The University will not tolerate inappropriate, racial and discriminatory conduct by members of its faculty. [ A bit confused there. inappropriate, racial and discriminatory conduct... What is racial conduct?] As a result of your conduct [Mommy's repetitive thing here tells you she's getting more pissed with every word. Watch out!], I have decided to place a monitor in your classroom to ensure that you do not engage in further violations of the Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy. Assistant Provost Richard Silberman will serve in this capacity. [Wordy gal. Might just have put Silberman's name in the previous sentence and saved herself the second sentence. But that would deny her the threatening serve in this capacity clause.] [ And who knew that a Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston University was what you needed to qualify as a speech monitor? SOS has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago. Can she give it a whirl? She finds the idea of sitting in the front row of a fellow professor's classroom, staring at him while meticulously monitoring his every utterance -- and, you know, occasionally taking mysterious notes -- pretty sexy.] Furthermore, I have decided to require you [And that's not all, baby! Wait for it!] to attend anti-discrimination training. The University will arrange and pay for a trainer [ Krauss sure knows how to use a budget.], who will contact you in the near future. In addition to training, the trainer will assess your ability to conduct classes without engaging in inappropriate racial and discriminatory conduct [ She likes this last phrase. Plus she can't get enough of the Mommy word conduct.]. Your classes will continue to be monitored until I have determined [I! I! Krauss The Provost!] that you are able to conduct yourself appropriately in the classroom. [Bad boy. Mommy pissed. Mommy watching you!]
I sincerely hope that you will recognize the seriousness of this matter and take affirmative steps to correct your conduct. Failure to do so may result in further disciplinary up to, and including, termination... [ Up to and including ... Not just up to, but it includes termination. Have I made myself clear?]'
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