Lack of Credibility of Anonymous Blogs

Standard

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Bloggers vs. College Administrators

Brock Read’s "Attack of the Blog" (The Chronicle, September 15) states that the unknown blogger was "mad as hell" at my performance as the president of the State University of New York College of Technology at Alfred. My report card includes, to list just a few items, an outstanding accreditation report from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and high praise from the accreditation team for my leadership; a double-digit increase in funds raised; … a 35-percent increase in international students; several first-time community-outreach initiatives; Intel recognition as one of the top-50 "most wired" campuses; and the largest building boom on the campus since the 1960s. The full credit for the above accomplishments should go to a highly ethical, dedicated, and visionary team of senior leaders that I was privileged to be a part of.

The Chronicle’s article has a few errors and omissions. First, it states that "more than 20 college officials had quit or been fired." Human- resources records show one termination, four nonrenewals requested by direct supervisors, and eight reassignments.

Second, SUNY did not conduct an investigation "of the tension between administrators and faculty members at the college." The administration and the Faculty Senate jointly invited an arbitration team — which, by the way, found serious flaws with the way the senate conducts business — to do so.

Third, Robert Albrecht, another target of the blog who was mentioned in your article, is a SUNY distinguished teaching professor, who has served with distinction for four decades. …

Finally, the bloggers targeted not just the president, but many others, including the chancellor, senior SUNY administrators, community members, and even young children of senior administrators. These attacks are still occurring. Other presidents before me, and their families, have also been viciously attacked by this group. …

The article omitted two important facts: First, public documents show why James Grillo was reassigned from his administrative post, a decision enthusiastically hailed by internal and external stakeholders as long overdue, and, as your reporter noted, an event "seen by many professors as a catalyst for the blog’s formation." Second, the administration incurred Mr. Grillo’s wrath when it took a principled stand against a bar he owns a few yards from the campus, which places students at high risk through its questionable practices.

Anonymity is an aphrodisiac for cowards who perpetuate lies and slander to destroy hard-earned reputions, and sacrifice the common good for their personal gain. Confusing it with "free speech" is an insult to our forefathers.

Uma G. Gupta
Senior Adviser to the State University of New York for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
State University of New York
Brockport, N.Y.


http://chronicle.com
Section: The Chronicle Review
Volume 53, Issue 8, Page A63

***

To the Editor:

Years ago, when the anonymous letter was the mode of conveyance used by disgruntled students against a professor, it became accepted practice to disregard the letter — if not entirely, at least as an actionable vehicle against the professor. This was, and remains, as it should be.

The justice system calls for accuser to face accused. That concept is equally important on the college campus. The light of objectivity must shine on all sides of a serious dispute or allegation, especially in an academic setting, where many sides of a situation may coexist.

Recently, the anonymous letter writer has been replaced by the anonymous blogger. Hiding behind anonymity, students, faculty members, and others can wreak havoc on virtually anyone, even the institution itself.

Blogging anonymously, a cowardly act at best, should give colleges the incentive to frame new protocols, just as they did with anonymous letters. If faculty members do not deal with this growing

issue, they can expect rumor, innuendo, and strife to dominate their campuses.

Freedom of expression is extremely important, but bearing responsibility for that expression must always follow.

Robert V. Iosue
President Emeritus

Chauncey M. DePree Jr.
Professor of Accounting
College of Business
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, Miss.

***

To the Editor:

There is no evidence that Uma Gupta would have resigned as a result of what was being said on the Internet. While the blog may have helped galvanize faculty and staff opposition to the president and her administration, the situation would never have been resolved without the visit to the campus by a team of SUNY faculty members. …

The team met with both faculty senators and college administrators, as well as with any interested parties wishing to express their concerns privately. The team’s concern was not to take sides in the struggle, but to try to bring stability to the campus. …

The situation at Alfred was resolved through

the cooperation and communication of the faculty, staff, and administration as well as others in the SUNY system. … To say that a blog brought down a president does not do justice to the idea of shared governance, or to the people at SUNY who advocated for and practiced it. Shared governance may not be as newsworthy as the image of a single blogger objecting to the practices of a college president, but it is far more pertinent.

Joseph Petrick
Technical Services Coordinator
Hinkle Memorial Library
State University of New York College of Technology
Alfred, N.Y.

***

To the Editor:

Does anyone else find it interesting that the three campus leaders mentioned in "Attack of the Blog" are women (Uma G. Gupta, Elizabeth Hoffman, and Jane Fernandes)? There aren’t many women university presidents.

Gender bias? Old-fashioned witch hunt? Just curious.

Monika Sciba
Academic Adviser
Saginaw Valley State University
University Center, Mich.

York College of Pennsylvania
York, Pa.

***

To the Editor:

A blog does not have to be anonymous. And at a university where information about faculty members is confidential, efforts to open up the campus are essential to a healthy academic environment.

Our Web site includes documentation, videos, depositions, etc., to support reports (http://www.usmpride.com). Our rigor rivals that of most newspapers.

Chauncey M. DePree Jr.
Professor of Accounting
College of Business
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, Miss.

***

To the Editor:

There is no evidence that Uma Gupta would have resigned as a result of what was being said on the Internet. While the blog may have helped galvanize faculty and staff opposition to the president and her administration, the situation would never have been resolved without the visit to the campus by a team of SUNY faculty members. …

The team met with both faculty senators and college administrators, as well as with any interested parties wishing to express their concerns privately. The team’s concern was not to take sides in the struggle, but to try to bring stability to the campus. …

The situation at Alfred was resolved through

Advertisements

About Dr. Gupta

Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the Founder and President of STEM.SMART, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the pipeline of U.S students interested in STEM careers. In addition, she is the CEO of PlanetGPA, an international student recruitment services that serves as an extension to the recruitment offices of U.S. universities.

One response »

  1. Dear Mr. Petrick:
    You make an excellent point on shared governance. However all sound judgements and decisions should be based on sound principles. In this case, my understanding is that neither the Faculty senate nor the executive committe of the senate saw or endorsed the report. Did a travesty of justice occurred here and perhaps your shedding light on the whole story will be helpful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s