I’ve held off writing up until now because I’d hoped to see real progress in UIUC engaging in house-cleaning. Alas, such house-cleaning clearly hasn’t occurred. Wise is gone (as Chancellor anyway), as is Adesida (as Provost), but my opinion is that neither Wise nor Adesida were the only people who should have been brought to accounting — they were merely two visible outcroppings of a corrupted culture, and what they did (to the extent that we know it now) was encouraged and enabled at every turn by others in the UIUC administration and faculty.
Case in point: Robin Kaler, spokesperson for UIUC. I knew her from her emails, but hadn’t met her in person until yesterday afternoon when I attended an AAUP presentation at UIUC on the censure and on background checks. One of the faculty members in the audience brought up the question of why the people who seemingly knowingly avoided FOIA hadn’t been brought to account — I noted that Wise had written in her email that Kaler had told her something like “private emails aren’t subject to FOIA” or something to that effect (I don’t have the quote from the supplemental emails before me at present).
Kaler was in the audience and responded that she hadn’t told Wise that; I said “yes, you did,” she said, “no, I didn’t.” and we went back and forth like that for a few minutes until I asked her what she’d said, and she said something like “I told Wise that all emails could be subject to FOIA” — again, my recollection should be mostly right.
Then I got it — Kaler was saying that Wise’s written statement about what she’d heard from Kaler — presumably shortly after she heard it — was wrong. Wise got it wrong, misunderstood Kaler. Of course you’d think this a bit surprising considering that Chancellors of universities are usually pretty sharp about what they hear, and also considering that Kaler’s claimed statement was never committed to paper, so we just have to trust her on what she says she said, don’t we.
I’m many things, but a good liar isn’t within my talent-set, and it took me a good long time to realize that it seems Kaler possesses that particular talent in spades. And why not lie? Why not claim you made a statement that no one can contest your having made because you never wrote it down, and you can argue than anyone who did write it down (like the Chancellor of UIUC) no matter how close to when you said it (likely very close) got the statement wrong.
Brilliant. And evil. Assuming Kaler’s lying (I believe she is, but I suppose we don’t know the truth at this point), isn’t that just a perfect example of the indifference she and all the others in this sorry sordid affair took (and take) to being open? Or is it just so much simpler to not say anything at all when you have power? To not be honest when you don’t have to be because you live in a consequence-free bubble.
And that brings me to my current lament, which is that we’re now more-or-less two months post Wise/Adesida, and 4 or 5 months post court decision requiring the disclosure of the 10,000 Salaita emails, and yet we’re still no closer to having been given any real information by UIUC, much less seeing any mea culpas or self-examination by the folks in the Swanlund building.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; but even so, I’m still disgusted. What do you suppose it will take for one or more of these people to realize that truth-telling isn’t a liability, and that “the corporate model” they claim to be emulating isn’t actually based on a surplus of lies?
BTW, here’s the latest FOIA of Burbules — it’s large, c. 27mb. I find his conversations with Jorge Villegas (Business Admin, UI Springfield) about the medical school yet more evidence of how wrapped up in the medical school all these people were at the time Salaita was happening. Once again it reinforces my conclusion that Wise wouldn’t have cared in the least about Salaita had he happened at a different time. And it also makes me wonder even more why Burbules was this busy pushing the medical school. Pure sycophancy?