This is the final copy of Chapter Three of Celts and Kings.
It had been a week since Michaels had stood up to Hillstand. Word spread quickly. Although a few faculty in the History Department nodded briefly with sympathetic smiles as they passed Michaels in the hallway, most were intimidated by Hillstand and avoided him. Whenever Michaels entered the faculty lounge or dining room, the normal hubbub ceased and there was an uncomfortable silence among those present. At faculty meetings, the normal give and take of instructors, professors, and other staff was muted when he was present. Michaels was becoming more and more isolated. At moments like these, Michaels now knew how a pariah felt.
On a sunny Tuesday morning, he was walking across the campus green to his office, trying to ignore the stares of students, when a scratchy voice behind him stopped him cold. “Well, I guess I’ll see you this afternoon at the Appeals Committee meeting,” said Roger Reed.
Michaels turned. “That meeting is scheduled for next week,” he said.
“Oh, I guess you didn’t get the notice. It’s been moved up a week.”
“I haven’t had time to check my mail,” answered Michaels. The news went through him like a jolt of caffeine. His stomach tightened.
When Michaels got to his office, he quickly checked his email and regular mail. There was no announcement of a change in meeting dates. He made a few calls and confirmed that indeed the meeting had been rescheduled to this afternoon. He quickly figured out why he had not been informed.
The usual process for a grade appeal was that both the student and the teacher appeared before the committee to justify their positions. Usually a compromise was arranged and the results were satisfactory to both parties. It was not usually a big deal. There was an option that if either party didn’t show up, the other party won the appeal. This didn’t happen often, but was a choice available to resolve the dispute.
It was clear that Michaels deliberately had not been notified or his announcement of the rescheduling was “lost” or “misplaced.” Either way it didn’t matter. It was a setup for Roger to win the appeal and pacify his father. With a clenched fist, he called Dryer and asked if he could come down and talk.
“Of course,” said Dryer.
When Michaels got to Tom’s office, he found Dryer and Megan waiting there for him. Tom told him he invited Megan to sit in. Michaels told them about the rescheduling of the Appeals Committee and the missing announcement.
“Well, you have the option of not going,” said Megan. “That way everyone saves face. It’s clear that’s what they planned.”
“I really don’t have that option any more,” Michaels answered. “That might have been true before I knew about the meeting. I could have said I never got the rescheduling notice. Now that I know about the meeting, I feel I have to go. Otherwise, the Reeds will say that I deliberately defaulted on defending my position. Again, I chickened out.”
“I don’t know how to say this,” said Megan, “but Reed is already talking. He really wants to put the squeeze on you. It looks like half the campus is waiting to see what happens.”
“Aren’t the meetings confidential?” asked Dryer.
“Usually yes, but Reed will make sure the decision comes out. Especially if he wins,” said Michaels. “Might as well have a loud speaker outside. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to face them. I go in there, I go in there alone. It’s like walking into a firing squad. A hostile committee with a predetermined decision. After all, $300,000 is a lot of incentive to sacrifice a faculty member.” His voice trembled. His hands shook.
“You know, no one will blame you if you don’t go.” Megan spoke with a quiet voice that bordered on respect. “John, I want you to know that we are both here for you. No matter what happens.”
“That’s right, old buddy. You can count on us, and Annemarie, and Janet. You have friends and you’re not alone. We’re all here for you.”
Michaels choked. “I guess at times like these you really find out who your friends are. I have to go. I don’t want to, but I have to. I don’t go and I lose respect for myself. One more person beaten down. I’ll probably lose but I at least know I went down fighting.”
“Now,” said Dryer, “let’s prepare to fight the appeal.”
That afternoon Michaels approached the door of Lanscape Hall where the appeal would be heard. As he entered and took his seat there was a look of astonishment on each Committee member’s face. The committee consisted of three faculty from unrelated departments. Today the committee consisted of Dr. Jansen, Dr. Thompson, Dr. Rogerstern, and a secretary taking minutes. Present were Hillstand, Samuel Reed and his son, Roger Reed. Hillstand and Reed conferred quietly while looking at Michaels.
Dr. Jansen, the chair, called the meeting to order.
“We are here today to consider the grade appeal of Roger Reed for course AMHI 143, Introduction to American History. I believe you got a grade of D- for that course. Please tell us why you think your grade should be changed and what you believe your new grade should be, Mr. Reed.
Roger stood. “Yeah, here’s the deal. The teacher here, he didn’t give us clear instructions. He had favorites, and he was confusing in his teaching. I can’t help it if he was boring. I feel my grade should be at least a B. I had a good attitude and showed respect in class.”
Yeah, when you were there, thought Michaels.
“How were your grades?” Dr. Thompson asked.
“Mostly good. Mostly Cs and Bs. I think that gets me a good grade.”
“Dr. Michaels? Anything?”
“Yes. I am not arguing about his grades. That is not the point at issue. The point is a school policy that requires good class attendance. That is not my policy; it is a school policy. In issuing this grade, I was following what I was required to do. The numbers added up to a D-. Roger missed eight out of nineteen classes. He attended only fifty-eight percent of his classes. We are asked to include class participation as part of our grading. How can I give a participation grade to someone who isn’t present to participate? I ask the committee to consider why an exception should be made for Roger and no one else. If the school is going to have a policy, it should apply to everyone. It you are not going to enforce a policy equally, why have it? You should either enforce it or get rid of it.” Michaels turned to Roger and continued.
“Roger, one of the days you were absent was January 23, a Thursday.”
“Yeah, I was working. I couldn’t make class because I was opening up the bookstore.”
“What happened the night before? Where were you?”
“I don’t remember.”
“According to this flyer, there was a dorm party Wednesday, the 22. Were you there?”
“I might have been.”
“How late did you stay?”
“I left pretty early.”
“Three students are able to say that you were there until 3 or 4 in the morning. Why did you stay so late when you had an early class, my class, the next day? Did you plan on blowing off my class to sleep late?”
“No, I told you I was working!” Roger started sweating.
“Did you ever discuss your working schedule conflicts with me so other arrangements could be made to make up missing work or get missing notes?”
Michaels continued. “Dr Jansen, I believe that Roger has shown irresponsible behavior, a poor attitude, and indifference to the learning process and to learning in general. I ask that his grade not be changed, that it remain a D-. Thank you very much.
“Thank you to both of you. We’ll announce our decision shortly.”
Michaels returned to Dryer’s office where Megan and Tom waited. “How’d it go? What happened?”
Michaels told them that it was over in about fifteen minutes and the committee was still meeting. “I think they’re in a bind about which way to go,” he said. “Why don’t we go to my office? They’ll probably call me there. They’ll have to tell me if they want the grade changed.”
An hour later, there was still no call. Michaels put on a fresh pot of coffee and each paced periodically across the floor. Then the phone rang. The sound made everyone jump. Michaels grabbed it.
“Yes, Dr. Hillstand.” Michaels nodded. His forehead began to show beads of sweat. “OK, I see. Thank you very much.” he hung up the phone and turned to them.
“Well I guess I’ll have to start looking for another job. The committee voted two to one to keep the grade the same. I’ve just made enemies out of Hillstand and one of the most powerful men in the country.”
Reader Reviews for
"Celts and Kings Chapter Three"
Want to review or comment on this
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Membership?
Click here to Join!
|Reviewed by Pierrette Ayotte (Reader)
|Good job, Mel. You got my attention. I want to read what happens next.|