It’s about pay equity

By Comissioner Bill Proctor
Special to the Outlook

As a faculty member at Florida A&M University, I wish President Larry Robinson well.  I hope he leads FAMU gamely.  I have spent over four decades as a student or instructor on the campus of Florida A&M University.

Complacent powers within and complicit powers beyond our University coincide to foster a rigorous insidious emasculation of faculty, especially those who are not current or former administrative leaders.

The resulting residual cultural norms for faculty have established an environment that produces low energy, passive, aloof, fearful and low morale faculty membership.  Grown educated men and women, who are the best and brightest scholars in the state and nation, sadly, many have been emotionally neutered and rendered psychologically spayed.

FAMU’s Board of Trustees calmly complies with the structured pay inequality maintained by Florida’s Legislature, Board of Governors and Governor that forces FAMU faculty to be under paid and treated unequally as professionals in the plantational state university system.  State Pay studies repeatedly establish that FAMU faculty are in a separate and unequal category for faculty pay in the State University System.
Why do the Governor, Legislature and Board of Governors maintain a distinct separate and unequal pay scale for FAMU which is the only state supported HBCU?

The FAMU BOT has failed to fight the good fight of pay equity and to secure raises for its laborers who transform raw human product into glistening jewels whose capacities to serve and contribute to humankind is spell binding and incontrovertible.  Wake up FAMU BOT!  Your faculty have been financially castrated by the State of Florida.

I am a former student member of the Howard University Board of Trustees.  I learned then that a trustee member secures and goes after resources to keep the educational enterprise thriving.  Being a Trustee member is more than displaying proper etiquette, projecting Victorian manners and blustery erudite regal speech.  Being a Trustee member is not a mere status symbol of bourgeois arrival and self-aggrandizement.  Such is useless in this critical moment of FAMU’s evolution.

A trustee of an educational institution is one of a warrior class who understands the needs, sets a vision and secures the resources for an educational entity to thrive unto successive levels and upward rounds of greatness.  Trustees are fighters who by analogy must be alert, eager, hunting and guard dogs instead of being fuzzy no bite, no hunt and no count lap dogs.

The FAMU BOT’s refusal to fight for resource parity will continue to make many FAMU Faculty feel emotionally neutered and psychologically spayed.  Generally speaking, faculty members try to keep our underpaid positions by  simply going along to get along so that we may survive to earn administrative favor—someday.  Likewise, a University President must be focused and ever vigilant in the pursuit to provide resources to make their University function at high levels.

An academic institution of higher learning provides a stimulating environment where ideas can be presented, confronted, promoted and robustly challenged by faculty across ranks.

At FAMU, no faculty person dares breath opposition, challenge or offer critical examination to policy directives from academic higher ups. No matter how awful.  I can’t remember the last time the rank and file faculty have generated an idea that ascended upward through the administrative milieu.

We simply do not earn enough or have financial security to risk being misunderstood by an insecure administrator who may take our objections as personal as oppose to seeing our objections as analytic differences to an idea.  Langston Hughes said it best “We Wear the Mask.”

It is probable that this plantation mentalitied situation is already clear to Dr. Robinson, our new President.  Perhaps he, as a scientist understands how forces crush, crumble, marginalizes and reduces even great intellectual mass.

For sure, we will soon find out whether this President will fight for pay equity for those beyond his own administrative team.  It is clear our current FAMU BOT simply will not.