Monday, June 18, 2012

dragas malfoy and the chamber of secrets

With apologies to J.K. Rowling.  This is what happens when massive nerdery meets righteous angar.  These are some excerpts from the story.... bet you didn't know she was really writing the story of UVA's struggles with a suddenly rogue Board of Visitors.....

...p.112 - "'I'm the new BOV rector, Casteen,' said Malfoy, smugly. 'Everyone's just been admiring the brooms the governor's bought us.'  Casteen gaped, openmouthed, at the seven superb broomsticks in front of him. 'Good, aren't they?' said Malfoy smoothly. 'But perhaps the faculty will be able to raise some gold and get new brooms too.  You could raffle off those Cleansweep Fives; I expect a museum would bid for them.'  The BOV howled with laughter. 'At least no one on the faculty had to buy their way in,' said Sabato sharply.  'They got in on pure talent.'  The smug look on Malfoy's face flickered.  'No one asked your opinion, you filthy little Mudblood,' she spat."

...p.222 - "'What's up with you, Kington?' snapped Malfoy.  'Stomachache,' he grunted. 'Well, go up to the medical school and give all those Mudbloods a kick from me,' said Malfoy, snickering.  'You know, I'm surprised the Daily Progress hasn't reported all this loss of fundraising yet,' she went on thoughtfully.  "I suppose Sullivan's trying to hush it all up.  She'll be sacked if it doesn't start soon.  Father's always said old Sullivan's the worst thing that ever happened to this place.'"

...p.262 - "'Dreadful thing, Sullivan,' said Malfoy lazily, taking out a long roll of parchment, 'but the Visitors feel it's time for you to step aside.  This is an Order of Suspension - you'll find all sixteen signatures on it.  I'm afraid we feel you're rather losing your touch.  How many donors have we lost now?  Two more this afternoon, wasn't it?  At this rate, there'll be no more donors left at UVA, and we all know what an awful loss that would be to the school.'  'Oh, now, see here, Helen," said McDonnell, looking alarmed, 'Sullivan fired - no, no - last thing we want just now - ' 'The appointment - or suspension - of the president is a matter for the Visitors, McDonnell,' said Malfoy smoothly. 'And as Sullivan has failed to raise any funds - ' 'See here, Malfoy, if Sullivan can't do it,' said McDonnell, whose upper lip was sweating now, 'I mean to say, who can?'  'That remains to be seen,' said Malfoy with a nasty smile. 'But as all sixteen of us have voted - '  Hunter Smith leapt to her feet, her white hair grazing the ceiling. 'An' how many did yeh have to threaten an' blackmail before they agreed, Malfoy, eh?' she roared.'

...p.334 - "'So!' she said. 'You've come back.  The Visitors fired you, but you still saw fit to return to UVA.'  'Well, you see, Helen,' said Sullivan, smiling serenely, 'the other fifteen Visitors contacted me today. It was something like being caught in a hailstorm of owls, to tell the truth.  They'd heard that John Simon threatened to quit and wanted me back here at once.  They seemed to think I was the best woman for the job after all.  Very strange tales they told me, too.....Several of them seemed to think that you had threatened to curse their families if they didn't agree to fire me in the first place.'  Malfoy went even paler than usual, but her eyes were still slits of fury.  'So - have you started fundraising yet?'  'We have,' said Sullivan with a smile."


I slay me.  Meanwhile, we're right here in worse-before-it-gets-better mode.  (Although, bad developments can look like pretty good ones when you're in the mood for some rabble-rousing.)  2,000 people showed up to protest outside the Rotunda where the BOV met today - and to welcome President Sullivan as she arrived to give her statement.  (I'd link that, but it's a paywall message board so it wouldn't be much use.)  Reportedly, Helen Dragas's handpicked interim successor has refused to take the job.  Smart guy.  Provost John Simon is threatening to resign, and some of UVA's biggest donors are suddenly closing their pocketbooks.  Other pledges have been rescinded.  The faculty is in open rebellion, declaring a total lack of confidence in the BOV and threatening to ignore any replacement.  Some have up and quit.  (Can't blame 'em.  I'd have a hard time working for someone dumb enough to work for this BOV.)

If Helen Dragas wanted to address an "existential crisis" - her words - at the University, part of which involved faculty retention, I can't think of a dumber thing to do than piss off 100% of the professors and administration, remove (directly or indirectly) the entire leadership foundation, alienate the school's largest donors, and totally undermine all confidence in the people charged with the school's stewardship.  What a shitshow.

I highly recommend you read President Sullivan's statement.  It's rather lengthy.  But she did an excellent job of taking the high road and at the same time addressing the issues that led to her firing.  Where Helen Dragas insisted on secrecy and opacity in the name of "confidentiality," Sullivan laid out the issues and clearly stated her side.

You can also read Dragas Malfoy's, which by my count is at least the third she's issued since last Sunday.  She certainly knows how to flower up a paragraph with empty words.  "As Visitors, we have the very highest aspirations for the University of Virginia: for it to reach its fullest potential as a 21st century Academical Village, always rooted firmly in our enduring values of honor, integrity and trust."  "We seek to elevate access, affordability, quality and diversity for every student and each patient."  Did you fire a president or write a new mission statement??  There's at least one outright lie in there - see if you can spot it; it ironically contains the word "truth" - but the most interesting thing is how she keeps repeating the word "heard."  She acknowledged having "heard" the faculty's "concerns" in her statement to them last week, and she once again "heard" them today.  Twice again, actually.  Once in having "heard" our "demands for a fuller explanation" - and then not giving one.  And therein lies Dragas Malfoy's problem: there's so often a tremendous gap between hearing.... and listening.

1 comment:

Protester said...

Always saw Dragas in more of the Umbridge role. But this is surprisingly fitting. Nicely done, and unfortunately all too applicable.