Mike Adams

Dear President Broad (mbroad@northcarolina.edu):

Last week, I went to work to examine a copy of my 2004 performance evaluation. For the first time in 12 years, my evaluation contained some negative remarks. Among those was the criticism that during the last year I did not take part in the ?ongoing life? of my department.

Although previously unfamiliar with the meaning of the phrase ?ongoing life,? I immediately suspected it was related to my unwillingness to attend the departmental parties that are occasionally held at the homes of my fellow professors.

Last September 11, I was invited to such a party at the home of my supervisor ? the same one who wrote my annual evaluation. When I told her I was unable to attend the party due to a conflict with an NRA banquet, my supervisor called it a ?fascist pig? banquet.

At the time, I assumed the ?fascist pig? remark was simply made in jest. I now recognize that I may have misjudged the situation. That recognition comes after learning that members of my department are, in fact, being evaluated on the basis of attendance at social gatherings held at the homes of their supervisors.

I made this shocking discovery when I began polling fellow faculty members to see whether others had received written remarks concerning their failure to take part in the ?ongoing life? of the department. The very first faculty member I polled reported that he was penalized on his evaluation ? not with a vague reference to ?ongoing life? but, instead, with a specific reference to his absence at a party held at the home of his supervisor.

This form of evaluation is unacceptable for a number of reasons.

For example, imagine that the one black faculty member in our department (of about eighteen full-time professors) decided not to attend parties because of the lack of racial diversity in the department. Instead of being surrounded by whites at a party (after being surrounded by whites at work all week), he decides to attend a NAACP meeting or a party at a predominantly black church. Should he then be penalized when evaluations are handed out at year?s end?

Or imagine that alcohol is served at departmental parties (they usually are), making a professor unable to attend for religious reasons. Would he not prevail in a suit charging religious discrimination if his absence was later recorded in his performance evaluation? You should immediately consult your attorneys on this one, President Broad.

Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.