Friday, October 28, 2011

First Principles: About this project

This blog represents a response to, and an alternative to, the University of Victoria's strategic plan, from the perspective of a single member of UVic's community. It does not represent a statement of any kind on behalf of the University of Victoria, does not pretend to speak on behalf of the University of Victoria (except occasionally for the purposes of satire), and represents my views alone.

It speaks from two longstanding frustrations, which are shared by an unknown additional number of UVic community members: it is at heart a project of protest - by which I mean challenge and renewal, rather than resistance and reformation - rather than a project of explication or accommodation.

First, there has always been some form of disconnect between the assertions in any strategic plan, and the subsequent actions taken by the institution with said plan: the University of Victoria has had these kinds of disconnects in assorted areas over the years, and I've been frustrated by that.

Second, the University of Victoria has for a long time leveraged its green reputation without doing nearly enough to deserve either the reputation itself, or its success in leveraging it. Its green reputation is due primarily to the actions of university-connected individuals, many of them employees, who do much of their work outside the university's stated priorities, and sometimes against them. That's increasingly going to be the case, if the 2011 draft Strategic Plan (PDF) is to be believed.

After years of wondering whether to do something like this, I was moved to start this blog by the 2011 draft Strategic Plan. It's open for comments until November 14, 2011, and I encourage you to check it out. I've already submitted to the drafting committee a written comment articulating my deep disappointment with its complete avoidance of matters ecological, but a recent lecture by Michael M'Gonigle left me radicalized. My tweaking and deckchair-shuffling response was inadequate to the scope of the problem presented by this draft Plan. The only fit response is to develop a new plan, and over time, that's what this blog will gradually do.

Posts will largely fall into three categories:
  1. assertions: statements that by rights ought to appear in the university's Strategic Plan, complete with rationales and (where possible) objectives and strategies
  2. translations: rephrased explanations of individual statements in the university's approved Strategic Plan (or its draft plan, before the approved version appears), some of which will be satiric, though it'll be largely up to you to figure out which ones
  3. commentaries: remarks on campus events, administration decisions, and PR statements, which will at times be positive and complimentary, sometimes critical and/or satirical
This could be a bumpy ride, and it remains to be seen whether I'll be able to sustain the effort necessary for the task I'm setting myself here. In any case, thanks for reading this far, and thanks for your company! Enjoy your time on the blog, and please do share your thoughts in the posts' comments areas.

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