Monday, June 16, 2014

Snake Oil

Once upon a time, in my first job out of Mount Holyoke, I was the head of Circulation at a small college library. And into our community came a gentleman from the South, a rather successful fellow who had made his mark writing easy-to-sing touchy-feely choral anthems.

Coming from a patriarchal tradition, he naturally assumed that the Head Librarian of the College and her entire staff were his personal secretaries. He had a rude awakening. We were an academic institution and we expected him to follow the same procedures as the other professors.

He refused. Not only did he not use the library after that, he encouraged other students to do likewise.

"If you want to read these books, come to my office. I have them in my own personal collection."

For a while we all just assumed he was an arrogant chauvinist pig, not a difficult assumption to make under the circumstances. And then it dawned on us.

He didn't know how to use a library. Dewey decimal system, Library of Congress, card catalogue (yes, I am that old)...he didn't know how to navigate and he had aways handed some woman a list and she had done it for him.

So he was ignorant. And afraid. And he used his position as a professor to share his ignorance and fear with the students by encouraging them to bypass the library.

This is exactly what is going on with Reg Avery and his fellow conspirators on the CA Board. They don't understand* the Inner Arbor Trust, they don't (or won't) put in the effort to understand, and they fear what they do not understand.

And they want to share their ignorance and fear with you. That is what they are selling: ignorance, and fear.

Columbia was not founded on the principles of ignorance and fear. Nor is this how we shall be ruled today, by small minded people who conspire to get their way by pushing through their own agenda while others are not looking. Community support for the Inner Arbor plan for Symphony Woods is strong, and comes from all generational groups.

Apparently the mounting evidence that Columbians want a beautiful, creative, exciting community space means nothing when you are ignorant and afraid.

I have a message for them: Columbia is not buying what you are selling.

Please write to CA President Milton Matthews and the entire CA Board to condemn the actions of Mssrs. Avery, Klein, and Swatek. Let them know you expect transparency from the Board and that the approved procedural policies be should respected and followed.

Because we're better than all that. Really.



*In fact, it is pretty clear they don't understand how the Columbia Association and the CA Board work, either.



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