Kachumber Word Salad

Reader, please meet Yashwant Prakash Vyas, MPA (he, his, his):

Let me say up front: he seems like a totally nice guy. I like his duds. I respect his advertised pronouns. (While deploring the environment that encourages their advertisement.) And I welcome him to our fair state and the University Near Here.

But he has unfortunately adopted the single worst characteristic of universicrats: ugly, stale, vague, trite, pretentious, hackneyed language. Commandment One of their lingo: Thou shalt never use a single word or phrase when you can stuff in two or more.

(And, yes, I followed that Commandment myself there. Intentionally, be assured.)

It's as if they use a style guide adapted from all the bad examples from George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language".

It's tough to follow Commandment One given the space limitations of a tweet, but Vyas does manage it.

  • Not just "understanding of" leadership: instead, "understanding of" and "approach to" leadership.
  • And (of course), not just "equity": instead, "equity, inclusion, and social justice".

He's also displaying mastery of Commandment Two: "Thou shalt use opaque and inflated jargon for no good reason."

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)
  • He's looking to "complicate" that understanding of/approach to leadership. Is that supposed to be a good thing now?
  • And he'll be using at least one "lens" to do that. Maybe three? Is an equity lens different from an inclusion lens? Or a social justice lens?

To adapt the title of a recent book, Amazon link at your right: "You are not expected to understand this."

Vyas was brought to my attention via a UNH Today article: Vyas Receives National Recognition for Contributions to Student Leadership Programs.

Yashwant Prakash Vyas, director of UNH’s Aulbani J. Beauregard Center for Equity, Justice, and Freedom, was recognized with the Outstanding Contributions to Student Leadership Programs Award from NASPA’s Student Leadership Programs Knowledge Community (SLPKC) at the organization’s 2023 annual conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

NASPA, an organization representing student affairs administrators in higher education, is the largest association in student affairs with a diverse network of more than 15,000 professionals at 2,100 institutions around the globe.

It's a diverse network. Of course.

And as far as Commandment One goes, Vyas will have the oppportunity to learn from those who have mastered the art:

“Yashwant continues to be a rising star as it relates to building and facilitating initiatives that provide avenues for student growth and development, particularly as it relates to student leadership skills and competencies around allyship, advocacy, diversity, equity, inclusion and justice,” says Nadine Petty, associate vice president and chief diversity officer and interim Title IX coordinator at UNH. “His recognition by NASPA is well-deserved and is a reflection of his unwavering dedication to students and his abilities in the DEIJ arena.”

I should also mention Commandment Three: "Thou shalt not worry whether you're making sense." AVP/CDO/ITIXC Perry is apparently fond of the phrase "as it relates to", maybe having it as a hotkey on her computer. But note that her first usage above is simply incoherent—to what is "it" referring? (Not Yashwant, surely; "it" is not his pronoun!)

According to Commandment Three, it doesn't matter.

But otherwise Nadine is a master of Commandment One:

  • Not just "growth" but "growth" and "development".
  • Not just "skills" but "skills" and "competencies".
  • His recognition is not just "well-deserved"; it's also a "reflection".
  • And that reflection is not just of Vyas's "dedication" but of his "dedication" and "abilities"
  • And of course, an array of goodnesses: "allyship, advocacy, diversity, equity, inclusion and justice" (Those last four, but not the first two for some reason, encapsulated in the DEIJ acronym.)

I'm sure Vyas will continue his rising star path. Just needs to work on that prose.

As noted, Vyas is in charge of The Aulbani J. Beauregard Center for Equity, Justice, and Freedom at UNH; yes, its very title is a shout-out to Commandment One. Sample from their "Incident Reports" box on their home page:

The Aulbani J. Beauregard Center for Equity, Justice, and Freedom is now a confidential resource. However, if you have observed, experienced or been provided information about an incident of sexual harassment, and, or sexual violence, discrimination, harassment, retaliation or bias, please report the incident by contacting the Civil Rights & Equity Office at (603) 862-2930 Voice / TTY Users 7-1-1 or submit an Incident Report Form (IRF). Anonymous reports may be submitted with the exception of Mandatory Reporters.

I confess that I don't know what it means for the AJBCfEJF to be "now" a "confidential resource". What was it before? But in any case, if you want to gripe about something, you need to deal with a different group, the "Civil Rights & Equity Office".

And note that when you're struggling to obey Commandment One, you can also invoke Commandment Three. Try to parse the syntax around "and, or" above. '

Briefly noted:

  • MIT's Alex Byrne describes his perilous adventures in academic publishing within Philosophy’s No-Go Zone.

    A staple of Philosophy 101 is René Descartes’s Meditations, in which the 17th century Frenchman devotes himself to the “general demolition” of his own opinions. In a couple of pages, he succeeds in demolishing his conviction that he has “hands or eyes.” This is the ethos of philosophy—question claims that we ordinarily take for granted and can’t imagine denying. Nothing is off the table. Weak-minded scientists may conform their conclusions to the prevailing orthodoxy, but at least clear-eyed philosophers will remain unbowed.

    Alas, that isn’t true. When the (then junior) philosopher Rebecca Tuvel published a paper on “transracialism” in 2017, there was a huge firestorm. More recently, the UK philosopher Kathleen Stock resigned from Sussex University in 2021 after three years of harassment. Both times, fellow philosophers turned up waving pitchforks. Both times, the heresies concerned transgender issues (although Tuvel had compounded her felony by connecting them to race).

    Read all about Byrne's experiences in arguing for the proposition that "a woman is an adult human female."

Last Modified 2024-01-30 6:11 AM EDT