When I look back at this week, what will I remember? Will there be events that are harbingers, even if I didn't recognize them as such in the week in which they happened?
And yes, I realize I'm asking that question a lot in the past four months.
This was the week that I looked around my workplace and realized that in terms of administration, that I have been here longest, along with the administrative assistant to the president and one or two others. I think of myself as institutional memory, but I also have computer files that serve as institutional memory.
This week, as I have watched colleagues try to reassemble the records of those who left hastily, I decided it was time to upload those files to a shared drive.
Imagine my surprise to realize how few of those files are important at all. I uploaded all the old syllabi; I am routinely asked for old syllabi from students who are continuing on and need to prove that one class is equivalent to another class. I uploaded the old assessment and institutional effectiveness files, although I'm fairly sure that people aren't reading them even now, much less will be likely to need them in the future. I uploaded all the files from our successful 2014 ACICS reaccreditation visit, and I took just a wistful moment to reflect on all the troubles that have fallen on ACICS as an institution. I uploaded tutor log sheets and an Admissions Committee file--but I didn't upload all the old AdComm files. I also made a file of all the assorted GE class assignments that I've collected through the years as I've subbed for people who needed to be suddenly absent.
Did I delete all the old files that I realize aren't really important? No, I did not. There's part of me that simply refuses to believe that all those documents are not important--all that work, and for what? There's part of me that delights in the archive aspect of it all, even as I realize that the archive is important to no one but me.
I'm thinking of Moby Dick: "And I am escaped alone to tell thee," which I have always misremembered as "Only I alone escaped to tell the tale." Some days I feel like Ishmael, in some sort of maelstrom that I only understand tangentially.
Some days I wonder if I'm part of the whale, if higher ed as we know it is being hunted into extinction.
Or maybe we're all the ship--but I don't like that metaphor either. Still, I have the glimmerings of a poem, and that's not a bad thing either.