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Alex Walter

The recent contract accomplishments pave the way for further achievements. Healthcare, pay, and workplace protections are especially important. I would like to focus my efforts in the area of improvements to workplace protections. More specifically, now that grievance procedures have been effected, I believe more can be done to strengthen them. One-sided and arbitrary (and hence unfair) disciplinary measures need to be systematically dismantled. I myself have been subject to such measures and have tentatively survived it. If one is informed of non-reappointment because of “poor course evaluations” or unsatisfactory folder review, let’s see real evidence instead of bullshit. Although I agree with W.E Deming that performance appraisal is inherently unfair, and I think we all agree that course evaluations are an especially perilous form of appraisal, if the University is going to apply such measures of evaluation, then let’s see real statistical data. We have a top notch statistics department at Rutgers. (I have worked with several of their faculty with respect to my own research data and have co-authored a peer-reviewed article with one of them.) Cherry-picking and casual eye-balling of course evaluations is unacceptable. A department head or other evaluator shouldn’t be allowed to abstract out a few cases of someone’s entire history and base a decision on a non-representative sample. Claims that your numbers are “significantly lower” imply a statistical measure of analysis. This cannot be accomplished by eye-balling a set of numbers. How many standard deviations below the mean is the alleged culprit’s performance? Then the question arises as to how many standard deviations below the mean makes one eligible for discipline and what type of discipline would be fair?

We need to erect mechanisms that are fair and objective in order to protect ourselves from unfair performance evaluation. Besides a PhD in anthropology (from this university), I also have an MS in organizational psychology (from the University of Oregon.) The curriculum of that program was formulated on the principles of program evaluation, specifically developmental evaluation. I intend to apply these principles and methods to my activities in my capacity as a representative for the union.

 

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