At the risk of being a curmudgeon, I wish to lodge a complaint
about the behavior of a small but very conspicuous minority of
audience members at the March 21 Tuesday Evening Concert. Before
the harmonics of the last notes dissipated, some people had already
pressed their seat ejection buttons, hurling them into the aisles
and out the doors of Cabell Auditorium, I suppose, to avoid the
performers make their living doing something they love and wish
to share with people around the world. It truly is a gift to be
savored and appreciated. Every audience member, in effect, signs
a contract to demonstrate and appreciate these gifts.
hope springs eternal for me and I look forward to the Tuesday
Evening Concert Series next year with some judicious, behavior-modified
Democratic process of pay plan questioned
the new classified compensation plan just passed by the General
Assembly is the result of a democratic process in which state
employees staffed an Employee Advisory Committee and more than
45,000 of 63,000 employees statewide completed a workforce survey
which was "an important tool" in developing the plan,
why then did more than 70 University employees cram a Newcomb
Hall room to express concerns with the plan? [See March 10 Inside
UVA.] Why has a seemingly open and democratic process triggered
this large-scale expression of dissent?
students in my course on Democracy and Dictatorship (GFCP 414)
could suggest a likely answer. Democracy requires a range of institutions
that, following Alexis de Tocqueville's classic analysis, Democracy
in America, social scientists term "civil society."
Civil society means unhindered acces to alternative sources of
information, freedom of association, and freedom to participate
effectively not just in ratifying decisions, but in controlling
the agenda by which decisions are made. Barring these and related
arrangements, surveys may be indistinguishable from the plebiscites
dictators often rely on, and advisory committees may be similar
to labor unions under communist regimes: instruments for leaders
to control workers and to elicit ritualized expressions of support.
It is thus not surprising that when given access to information
critical of the new plan, and when given an independent forum,
University employees turned out to voice their concerns. This
is precisely what any student of democracy would expect, and what
any advocate of democracy would applaud. If the University truly
values employee input and genuinely welcomes democratic processes,
it will not simply tolerate but rather encourage every effort
made to organize workers at U.Va. and at other institutions across
Department of Government and Foreign Affairs
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