I realised today that I could have written a very much shorter and punchier statement. This is it.
I will advocate for quiet.
Slightly longer version:
Faculty, like any other workers, ought to have decent working conditions. Our workplace should be a place of calm, comfort, and collegiality. That is in the interests of health, safety, a respectful environment, and wellbeing. Our particular kind of work and its particular primary purpose is teaching, research, and (their conjunction as interactive) learning. Work of the mind depends on a precious resource which is currently rare at UBC, without which our work is made more difficult, and in such a way as to drain and damage us. This essential resource is quiet, and I will advocate for urgent investment in it to be a University priority.
Actually, whether or not I’m elected, I’ll be advocating for quiet anyway; after all, I started doing so some years ago (see posts tagged “peace and quiet” on here) and don’t see any reason to stop until the noise stops. And I would encourage whoever is elected to the Faculty Association to take up this cause.
I’m very wary of Top Ten Lists let alone Single Most Important Items, except in this case. Quiet is connected to many other academically-positive things: a calm environment, attention and creative inattention, thinking, reading, writing, analysis, calculating, collecting, cataloguing, ordering and sorting, experimenting, planning, marking, working with students, office hours, cogency and coherence and congeniality, peace, harmony, goodwill to all, and happiness.
Quiet, and its lack, affects us all: faculty, staff, and students. Beyond our immediate human ecosystem, noise pollution also harms local and larger environments. We have a duty of care to each other—colleagues, co-workers, members of the university, community—and a higher obligation and responsibility, to our whole habitat.
Today was a singularly horrifically noisy day, resulting in a headache from 2 to 8 p.m., a public display of grumpiness, and the seeking of academically-appropriate solace in nerdy dark humour and cute small animals online. That won’t work every time; and it doesn’t compensate for harm done, hurt caused, and resources—time and energy that could have been better used elsewhere—expended on healing.
Let’s make UBC and the world better, by being more peaceful.