Archive for March 2010

Editorial Cartoon on the LCSD School Board

March 11, 2010

From the LE’s Jeff Smith (click to embiggen):

Jeff is awesome.  All hail Jeff!


OSU Foundation Survey

March 10, 2010

A week or two ago – I wasn’t really paying attention – I got an email from the OSU Foundation CEO, asking me to take a survey on his behalf.  I ignored it, because hey, he happily ID’ed himself as the CEO, and we all know how I feel about that.

Two days ago I got another email from someone else from the OSU asking me to take the same survey.  Marketing tactic?  You bet. Did it work?  Sure – I decided to see what they wanted to know.  Three minutes in, it was clear they were doing research to figure out how to increase giving.  Wholly unsurprising, and I answered it relatively honestly, though I didn’t go all-out with the acerbic commentary.  (I do wonder if it was an all-alum email or if I was targeted, though.)

There were also a few questions that struck me as painfully bad, which is the genesis of this post.  All were on a Likert scale of 1-5 from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree.  The first statement of note:

I like what OSU represents.

Hm.  What does OSU represent, exactly?  If I say I like it, what am I liking?  Well, whatever the person who is presenting the survey results wants me to like!

This is bad social science, I thought when I read the question.  Then I realized the standards were far lower:  This is marketing.  Strongly Disagree.  Next.

OSU understands my needs.

What does this even mean? Is OSU my significant other?  My psychiatrist?  My friggin’ cat?  This was a survey addressed to alumnus – why do I care if OSU understands my needs?  I don’t need anything from them… except maybe to not be asked such asinine questions.  Also, what if my needs are not to be bugged by the Foundation for money?  Can they meet that need?  Didn’t think so.  Strongly Disagree; I need OSU not to become a goddamn corporation. (Later in the survey, they ask several questions about my giving habits.  Har.)

The final statement of note:

My OSU education helps me to be who I want to be.

Ooohhh….. now this is a marketing question!  Ironically, it is also very true that what I got out of college had far more to do with becoming a particular person than it was a job or career path.  In that sense, it’s a great question!  Too bad this was a marketing survey designed to get alum to donate more, and I hate that shit.  My answer was a lie.

Bottom line:  I don’t think I was that helpful, beyond the fact that I responded.  I did answer one question very truthfully:  I feel a connection to my old department, not to OSU as a whole.  That much is true.

I can’t wait for the Philosophy Department faculty and Chair to be forced to send out fundraising emails to alum.  This is gonna be great.

OSU Custodial Staff and the Power of Sunlight

March 4, 2010

From the February 20th Corvallis Gazette-Times:

OSU, trying to trim more than $11 million from its 2009-10 budget, cut $400,000 from its janitorial contract with GCA Services Group, the private company that handles custodial work at the university, on Dec. 14.

The contract amount with GCA was amended to $850,000 for January through June of this year. The cutback forced the company to lay off nearly 30 custodians from a staff of more than 90. The Gazette-Times was not provided with the exact number of employees who have been laid off.

Now, the remaining custodians are trying to adjust to the changes in their workloads. And OSU students and staff members said they’re taking on cleaning duties that the custodians formerly handled.

Arter said that GCA believes the workload is “manageable” for the remaining custodians. But the janitors say it’s impossible to do the job right with almost a third fewer custodians cleaning the same square footage. “The morale is not very high,” Arter said.

From SEIU, the union that represents the custodial staff, a web page that includes a petition to ask the university to restore funding:

We do not believe the janitorial reductions are in keeping with the values and principles outlined in the OSU strategic plan for 2009–2013, Phase II. We all want to see OSU “rank among the ten best Land Grant universities in the nation” (1) however unsanitary conditions are not in keeping with this vision. These conditions jeopardize the health of our students, staff and faculty; they diminish the improvements made to our campus infrastructure.

Given that OSU’s financial outlook is better than expected, we respectfully request that you restore funding of janitorial services to its previous level.

From an email sent to OSU folks on March 2nd from Sabah Randhawa, the Provost, and Mark McCambridge, the Vice Presidentt for Finance and Administration:

OSU Community:

We are pleased to announce a series of budget-related actions resulting from passage of ballot measures 66 and 67 and the Oregon Legislature’s decision in the recently concluded legislative session not to impose additional cuts on the higher education budget, and wish to express our appreciation to ASOSU, OSA, and others whose support was instrumental during the February legislative session.


We are reinstating the level of custodial service that had been reduced earlier this year.


Sabah Randhawa

Provost and Executive Vice President
Mark McCambridge

Vice President, Finance and Administration

Despite the lack of acknowledgment from the OSU admin folks, I have no doubt that the public pressure brought by the GT had a lot to do with this decision.  Kudos to reporter Cheryl Hatch and photographer Scobel Wiggins for their work on this.