April 7-13, 2000
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IN THIS ISSUE
Faculty Senate to continue research grants to students
Reporters debate the line between politicians' public, private lives
U.Va. gets second Truman Scholar

Graduate schools ranked

Digital text may reveal the real "Piers Plowman"
Jamison: greater public awareness of suicide needed
In Memoriam
Hot Links - virginia.edu
University of Virginia Library News
Letters to the Editor
Union leader speaks at U.Va.
Papers of early black educator discovered
Notable - awards and achievements of faculty and staff
Nature writer Rick Bass coming to U.Va. April 20-21
U.Va. to be open for Historic Garden Week April 25
Alderman Cybercafe Opening Celebration
Guest speakers on Grounds
TOP NEWS

Appreciate musicians

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 stampede.

These 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.

Nevertheless, hope springs eternal for me and I look forward to the Tuesday Evening Concert Series next year with some judicious, behavior-modified participants!

Sincerely,

John Wallace-Smith
Property Accounting
Carruthers Hall

Democratic process of pay plan questioned

If 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?

The 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 the state.

David Waldner
Assistant Professor
Department of Government and Foreign Affairs

 

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As part of our commitment to fostering communication around Grounds, Inside UVA welcomes "Letters to the Editor" on subjects of academic or general University interest. We reserve the right to edit or to decide not to publish letters if judged to be of insufficient interest or inappropriate for publication. We won't run letters that require an editor's note for clarification. Opinions containing personal criticism will not be published. Letters should be approximately 150 words and include author's name and University affiliation.


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