A Loss of History

Published:
December
2003
Author:
Leon Marzillier, Chair
Recently, at the time I was chairing a local academic senate meeting, a burglar or burglars entered my home and stole my computer. As I have often heard from others with a similar experience, I felt violated, and enormously inconvenienced. It is not the loss of the machine itself-that has been replaced and my home insurance will reimburse me for most of that cost-but what I had on the machine, articles, records, speeches, pictures, were not backed up and are now all sadly gone forever. I caution all faculty (or indeed anyone) to think about what you have stored on your computer. Is everything on your machine backed up? If not, is there anything you would dearly miss should your machine be stolen? If so, back it up on a CD, DVD, disk, or another machine, and you will not feel the sense of loss as much as I do now. It is almost as if I have lost a piece of my personal history.

That loss got me thinking about the history of our organization. Now, I am quite sure that the superbly efficient staff of the Academic Senate office have backed up all our important documents so that they are accessible to current community college faculty and to generations of community college faculty to come. Can you say the same about the historical documentation concerning the activities of your local academic senate? Approximately a generation has gone by since the passage of AB1725, the seminal legislation that empowered academic senates. California community colleges had widely differing experiences when their academic senates first attempted to exercise their rights guaranteed by this legislation and since written into Title 5 Regulations. Many college administrations resisted the increased voice and influence that academic senates were now granted in the 10 plus 1 areas of academic and professional matters. During this "retraining" of these college and district administrations, many battles were fought, lessons learned, and brand new procedures implemented. Are the records of those struggles accessible to your current faculty and to generations of faculty to come? In other words, is the history of the implementation of the Title 5 Regulations emanating from the passage of AB1725 on your campus backed up, so to speak?

Many of the generation of faculty members intimately involved in senate leadership when AB1725 first passed are now in the process of retiring and moving on, if they haven't done so already. "Backing up" that historical knowledge is essential for the next generation of faculty leaders on your campus. Are these new leaders aware of the situation prior to the passage of AB 1725 and the changes that came about because of that legislation? Any gaps in their knowledge might cause them to have to again fight battles that have already been fought and won. Such a scenario would be a waste of everyone's time and spread undue consternation amongst the faculty on your campus. Before we, who are "in the know," step aside, be it to once again experience the joys of teaching, or be it to enjoy a well-deserved retirement, it is our obligation to make sure that our unique body of knowledge is backed up for the next generation. Future academic senate leaders, faculty, and students will be grateful that you did. Let us not leave them with a legacy of pain and loss of the kind I felt when I first viewed the unattached wires and empty space where a part of my personal history once resided.