Me Burn My Bridge? You Lit It

Pyrite cube from Fuente del Moro, Navajún, Spain.
Pyrite cube from Fuente del Moro, Navajún, Spain.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

1. This Just Happened

In late August 2019, Millicent Whitehat, a recently retired college instructor, came up to me late one afternoon as we were leaving a reception at the university.

“So, you have a job on campus, right?”

“Yeah, webmaster for the College of Education and Health Professions, three years last July. It’s been great, it really has.”

“I’m very glad to hear it. You know, they did not treat you right, and I’ve felt bad about it, but nothing I could do. That [Reedman], I don’t know how you worked with him. He’s never fit in, I’m not sure who likes him. He has no personality.”

No personality, what did she mean by that?

“I’m not sure he was the problem. I felt we got along, got along well enough. He’s of a type in newsrooms that I knew, so I felt I could handle anything that came up with him. I never figured out what happened, that made them cut me out of the job. Do you know?”

“No, I never really heard.”

“I’ve wanted to find out, but to ask around I never knew who to approach. I mean, who really knew and who would tell me, and would they be truthful or lie, or would they know just part of what happened or just one point of view, and still there’d be no complete picture then either.”

“I understand. You’d best forget it and move on. I guess you did move on.”

“Yes, I did and this is great, where I’ve landed. Yes I’ve obviously moved on, but no I can’t forget. That’s just not something I could do. That hands it to them, you know?”

A mutual friend at that moment joined us, as if they had come in together and obviously heading toward the car. Millicent’s manner indicated the friend’s presence ended our talk. We exchanged cheerful good-byes, and I walked toward the campus center.

[Quotation marks are used here because I’m certain of near-journalistic accuracy. The absence of such punctuation later indicates reliance on strong memory.

[Names HAVE been changed. However, my name as always is “I” or “me.”]

So did Millicent know what happened? Gosh, how could she? 

Department chair Baton knows, most or all. Ethics center director (interim director at the time) Reedman knows, at least his role in it. Now-retired Professor Alto is complicit and had to have colluded. Beloved Professor Bass told me several times all this happened at levels above him and he was powerless. All assistant department chair Dr. Cornet had for me was a sudden gesture of empathy. Their word for me: “insubordinate.” The allegation is false.

Continue reading

I Would Appreciate Your Vote

My Razorback roots go deeper than I thought. My maternal grandfather, Ernest Mendel of Fort Smith (born in Hot Springs), evidently attended the University of Arkansas. I've checked the Senior Walks of several years; he didn't graduate.
Ben Pollock
Candidate Ben Pollock
Official U of A photo, summer 2014

I am running this week for a position on the University of Arkansas Staff Senate. The online balloting ends Monday, May 6. If you are a U of A staff member, you may choose to vote for me, and the following 150-word statement I was asked to submit just might sway you!

Or not.

As a longtime volunteer, I enjoy giving back. Working at the University of Arkansas these three years has been so satisfying this is an opportunity to return the favor. On the Staff Senate, I’d like to increase the body’s visibility through the year. That’s not just special events but would work toward an ongoing, transparent presence on campus.

About me:

My Razorback roots go deeper than I thought. My maternal grandfather, Ernest Mendel of Fort Smith (born in Hot Springs), evidently attended the University of Arkansas. I've checked the Senior Walks of several years; he didn't graduate.
My Razorback roots go deeper than I thought. My maternal grandfather, Ernest Mendel of Fort Smith (born in Hot Springs), evidently attended the University of Arkansas around 1920. I’ve checked the Senior Walks of several years; he didn’t graduate.
  • Fort Smith native, 3rd-generation Arkie
  • Bachelor’s, Communication, Stanford University
  • Master’s, Journalism, University of Arkansas, 2003
  • Earlier career: newspaper editor/designer, reporter, columnist
  • Current job: Webmaster for the College of Education & Health Professions since mid-2016; previously 2014-15 instructor with the Journalism faculty/Ethics Center
  • Activities
    • Treasurer, National Society of Newspaper Columnists Education Foundation
    • Recording Secretary & Communication Director, Arkansas 965
    • Planning committee, WordCamp Fayetteville, teacher of WordPress 101
    • Board member, Ozark Poets & Writers Collective
    • Also: Compassion Fayetteville, Canopy NWA, Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas, Temple Shalom, NWA Pride Band

So check your emailbox for for a message like this:

image of email of ballot link for  2019 Staff Senate ballot

ASP Rejects Gun Ban for Tiddlywinks

Email from ASP Cpl. Lewis, 26 March 2018It’s time to go renegade. After all, I fought the law and last night the law won.

As manager, coach and occasional player in the University’s Tabletop Sports team, I had sought to continue the weapons ban at r’Asadinks Tiddlywinks Stadium, here in Office 248. The longstanding ban at school athletics facilities was turned into an annual permit request by 2017 legislation.

So on March 14 I requested a gun ban permit (Word doc), going by the rules set up by the Arkansas State Police for the new laws. The main law allows for firearms on campuses, concealed carry, if their owners have the accompanying new permit, enhanced, which refers to a few hours additional training for fending off active shooters.

My effort, described in the column “Stadium Security’s a Peach,” has been rejected.

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Stadium Security’s a Peach

Wednesday’s a big day.

Besides being National Pi Day — 3-14, get it? — for this year it’s also #NationalSchoolWalkout. That’s 17 minutes outside of class for students K-12 (likely more the older grades) starting at 10 a.m. in each time zone. The purpose, according to the group Empower (organizer of the anti-hate Women’s Marches), is “to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship.” The 17 represents the fatalities of the shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, exactly a month ago, Feb. 14, 2018.

College students generally are not participating, outside of administrators assuring high schoolers that their civil action will not hurt their chances of admission, going by news reports — well, students at two Memphis institutions are an exception. After all, the inspiration came from the teens of the Florida high school. Yet, universities and colleges have been the sites of other senseless massacres. Like elsewhere, political leaders are either slowing these down, doing nothing or seemingly increasing the threat.

Page 1, Sensitive Area Designation Tiddlywinks redacted 031318
Slightly redacted

About a year ago the Arkansas Legislature passed a bill to repeal the ban of weapons on campuses, allowing firearms to be carried hidden by those holding enhanced concealed carry permits. The “enhanced” is part of the 2017 legislation, adding a few hours of active shooting training. It approved another bill continuing a gun ban at athletic events and a few other locations. Collegiate sports have to request the weaponry ban, submitting a form every year to the State Police. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed these into law, and state offices proceeded to policy making, for the finer points of enactment.

The laws got a poke in my column “Play Games at Work So No Guns” where I revealed my campus office happens to double as r’Asadink Tiddlywinks Stadium, Home of University Tabletop Sports. A second column, “‘Winks at Gun Ban Security Plan,” explored my arena’s answers to the points that the facility request form was to ask.

The welcoming yet removeable sign for r'Asadink Stadium
The welcoming yet removeable sign for r’Asadink Stadium

The arena in my office should qualify, according to policy (bold face in original):

“A collegiate athletic event is defined by Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-101(2) as “a sporting or athletic contest, event, or practice of an individual or team of individuals in which one (1) or more individuals or a team of individuals sponsored by, funded by, represented by, or associated with a public or private university, college, or community college competes against themselves or another individual or team of individuals.”

Recently the Arkansas State Police published the “‘Firearm-Sensitive’ Areas Application Information” and the “Security Plan” form. I accepted my own dare, studied the former, completed the latter and emailed it this morning to the ASP senior corporal listed.

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‘Winks at Gun Ban Security Plan

2/2*: Security Plan for r’Asadink Tiddlywinks Team — Report for the Arkansas State Police

*Conclusion. Here’s Part 1

DATELINE MIRTHOLOGY — Arkansas Act 859 of 2017 became law this week, partially disarming Act 562 of 2017 from earlier in the session.

I have my official gun ban request just about ready. Firearms never have had a place at tiddlywinks games, and they still won’t.

Open season throughout colleges — by holders of concealed weapons permits who also have had up to eight hours of active shooter training — has been curtailed with 859 so guns are not allowed in qualifying athletic facilities.

Not so fast, SEC teams. Signs proclaiming “Reynolds Razorback Stadium” or “Bud Walton Arena” are insufficient. Football’s and basketball’s showrunners have to prove they are sporting events to the Arkansas State Police once a year.

As do all the other structures where sports are played. Including Suite 248, otherwise known as r’Asadink Stadium, Home of Arkansas Table Sports.

Legislators listed what should be detailed in the gun ban request to the state police in Section 9. In preparing the list for r’Asadink, I as coach and caretaker found the process to be a squop, known outside tiddlywinks as a slam-dunk.

A copy of the following will be forwarded to the ASP when they’re ready to take applications. [Update below*] My rationale is found at Part 1 of this series “Play Games at Work So No Guns.”

Early in a recent tiddlywinks game between the U of A and Deep State at r'Asadink Stadium. Score is 0-0.
Early in a recent tiddlywinks game between the U of A and Deep State at r’Asadink Stadium. Score is 0-0.

(A) Total projected attendance — Capacity is limited only by how many people can crowd around the 48×24-inch felt mat, allowing room for the players of course.

(B) Number of entrances and exits — 1 of each, in college-level math it’s 1 plus 1 equals 1.

(C) Number of on-site private security personnel — Brought by the visiting team.

(D) Number of on-site law enforcement officers — Another new state law — curtailing the transparency ensured by the FOIA — keeps me from divulging details on campus police. Also, this Act 859 states, “A security plan submitted under this section is exempt from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act of 1967.” Am I breaking the new law by sharing my security plan? Uh-oh.

(E) Number of on-site first responders — Red Cross CPR card holders get in free.

(F) Location of parking areas and number of motor vehicles projected to use the parking areas — Fans convey themselves along halls, stairs and elevator. Just like the entire university community, how they get here is their problem.

(G) Routes for emergency vehicles — Squad cars and paddy wagons need parking stickers.

(H) Locations of all restrooms, stairs, and elevators — Down the hall. Down the other hall.  Continue reading

Play Games at Work So No Guns

1/2*: reDeclaration of Athletic Facility

*Here’s Part 2

DATELINE MIRTHOLOGY — My workplace is eligible. Now that people with concealed weapon permits soon will be welcome to roam armed throughout campus, barred only at qualifying athletic events, it’s time to out my office.

Entrance to 248, the athletics facility for the university's tiddlywinks team.
Entrance to Suite 248, the athletics facility for the university’s SEC championship tiddlywinks team.

Suite 248 also houses the little known but very real r’Asadink Stadium, for tiddlywinks and other tabletop sports.

Unlike football’s Reynolds Razorback Stadium, which is unlocked only some six days a year, r’Asadink is multipurpose, an old experiment of the Department of Athletics where every other facility tends toward single use. (Even track-and-field are over a mile apart, between Tyson Track Center and McDonnell Field.)

It’s not only for games. The tiddlywinks and table croquet crews also practice on the 2×3-foot green felt mat in 248.

The 248 test was abandoned but not forgotten, least of all by me, still on the Razorback (or was it RazorTemp?) payroll as r’Asadink table sports coach and caretaker. It’s moonlighting, outside of my full-time Web job.

Yet we must take weapons seriously with Arkansas Act 562. While apparently there’s a winning argument that guns wielded by slightly trained amateurs protect democracy except at fields of play, guns never have been welcome at my arena and they never will be. Continue reading