Wednesday, April 23, 2014

First Principles of Shared Governance, Part IV: The Live Wires

So far in this series on shared governance, I've been focusing on the importance of bylaws revision and have been attempting to convey something of the vision that has been motivating me and other leaders of the University Senate at SUNY Fredonia, as well as the issues we have addressed and attempted to resolve through discussions with a range of individuals, representative bodies, and constituent groups among the Faculty before seeking approval on amendment motions from the Senate, ratification from the Voting Faculty, and sign-off by the President on any revisions that affect consultation.  Today I want to move from "the vision thing" and "the nitty gritty" to the "the live wires" that are generating their fair share of discussion and debate on the Fredonia campus right now.  It's the unresolved questions about shared governance that I find the most interesting and important right now.

As in the last couple of posts, I'm going to assume readers will be interested enough in these questions to examine our actual language in the SUNY Fredonia Faculty and University Senate Bylaws.  I don't think of our Bylaws as necessarily providing a model for any other college or university, as they are the outcome of a very specific institutional history and the choices of a variety of people responding to particular conditions and structures, but I do think understanding how and why they've come to take the shape they now have can be useful to those considering whether and how to go about revising their own policies and procedures regarding institutional communication and decision-making.  Institutional bylaws are always a work in progress for many reasons:  changes in leadership and leadership styles, developing understandings of the consequences (both intended and unintended) of specific provisions, unforeseen situations that expose a crucial gap or ambiguity, changing attitudes and perspectives among the Faculty, changing circumstances (whether demographic, budgetary, relating to accreditation or external review or system-level policy), and so on.  The key, as I've emphasized in the last couple of posts here, is to figure out how to use bylaws revision to help build trust and solid working relationships between the President and the Faculty that best facilitate honest assessments of the challenges and opportunities facing the university, frank exchanges of views on how to meet them, careful consideration of the grounds for goals and decisions and actions, and a clear understanding of who plays what role when and what those roles entail as and after goals have been set, decisions have been made, and actions have been taken.  Anything that diminishes trust or threatens working relationships provides an opportunity to reexamine bylaws and other relevant governance and policy documents (such as policies and procedures manuals for standing and affiliate committees, department handbooks, and the University Handbook) and consider whether there may be any procedural dimensions to the problem.

So let me put a spotlight on just a few examples of what we've been considering of late on the SUNY Fredonia campus.

Academic Departments as Shared Governance Bodies

We are still working through the implications of the requirement in The Policies of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York that the Faculty delegate certain consultative responsibilities to academic departments, which strongly suggested to us that they should be considered official governance bodies.  We revised the Bylaws (particularly in Article II, Section 3 and Section 6) to reflect and operationalize this understanding.  But many unresolved questions remain:

  • Which kinds of communication and decision-making processes within departments should be determined at the department level?  Which, if any, should be established via Bylaws- or University Handbook-level revision?  (Right now, the Bylaws leave everything up to departments.)
  • What should happen if a department can't or won't develop its own policies and procedures on matters that are clearly departmental prerogatives?  (Right now the Bylaws envision loss of consultative responsibility unless certain minimal conditions are met, but the provisions are too new to be enforced.)
  • Who ought to participate in which kinds of department decisions?  Who ought to vote on which kinds of matters before the department?  How to sort through the differences in faculty appointments, responsibilities, workloads, time in the department, and areas of expertise to arrive at a fair, transparent, and effective internal governance structure?
  • To what extent, if any, should university-level governance policies and procedures established in the Bylaws serve as a guide for department-level structures?  To what extent, if any, should recommendations from professional associations (such as the AAUP) be implemented for department-level governance activities?
  • Since academic departments are also part of the administrative chain, with department faculty typically making recommendations to department chairs, who then make recommendations to their dean, and so on, how to clearly differentiate administrative from governance matters?
As I mentioned in the last post, the Senate Executive Committee has approached these questions very deliberately, seeking this year to determine which departments already have handbooks or other potentially-governance-related policy documents, to survey and code the contents of the handbooks so as to gain a sense of the range of governance-related topics departments have already addressed and variations among them, and to share an inventory with departments, administrators, Senators, and Senate committee members.  Meanwhile, the chapter leadership of United University Professions has identified specific policies (such as the chair appointment process) that they wish to make a priority during the University Handbook review, revision, and approval process I mentioned in previous posts.  Their aim has been to solve existing problems and resolve current conflicts; they have had an opportunity to share their proposal with the Senate Executive Committee and explain it to the Faculty and Professional Affairs Committee, which Executive Committee has charged with reviewing the issues, seeking input from appropriate individuals and bodies, and developing a policy proposal for University Senate consideration.

Executive Committee Responsibilities and Actions

The role of the Executive Committee in converting reports and recommendations from task forces into motions for the Senate to vote on has also come under recent scrutiny on our faculty listserv.
  • The timing of responsibility baton passes--in our most recent case, from the General Education Revision Subcommittee to the Executive Committee to the Senators--has been questioned by some faculty.  The original timeline envisioned at the creation and charging of the subcommittee had to be adjusted to allow for sufficient exploration of a range of unanticipated issues and important questions.  So who was responsible for what when may have become less clear than hope for--or at least more in need of explanation and clarification than may have been expected.
  • The role of the Executive Committee during the spring semester, as a scheduled Senate vote in February was postponed until May, has also been questioned by some faculty.  In coordinating the "review, deliberation, revision, and approval process" and attempting to "develop an efficient, fair, collaborative process aimed at maximizing the quality, legitimacy, and support" of the motion to be brought to the Senate floor, has the Executive Committee ever crossed the line into advocacy for a particular model for General Education?  In its communications with the Faculty, has the Executive Committee clarified the content of the General Education revision motion and explain the process by which it was developed?  Or has it entered inappropriately into debates over the costs and benefits of General Education revision?
I'll close this post with a disclaimer that I'm in the middle of all these debates, not least because I serve as both Vice Chairperson of the University Senate (term ending 30 June 2014) and Officer for Contingents for the Fredonia chapter of United University Professions (term ending 31 May 2015).  Since I haven't been shy about expressing my views and engaging in dialogue with my colleagues on university-wide and department-level communications fora, I'm not going to hold back here, either.  Out of respect to my colleagues and my audience here, I'll try to avoid playing too much "Inside Baseball" and stick to the issues, positions, rationales, and policies and their stakes and implications.

Well, it's time to get ready for that SUNY Voices conference!  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

First Principles of Shared Governance, Part III: The Nitty Gritty

Last post I explored "the vision thing" when it comes to shared governance and consultation, with particular attention to the role bylaws can play in instantiating that vision or theory.  In this post, I plan on getting into the nitty gritty of what bylaws revision has actually entailed at SUNY Fredonia over the last 6 years or so.

Defining Consultation, Shared Governance, Faculty, and Voting Faculty

I encourage you to review the current list of definitions in our bylaws and the way in which we operationalize them in Article II, Section 3.  They are the product of multiple revisions over the last several years.

When I was Chair of the University Senate and he was Vice Chair, Philosophy Professor Dale Tuggy was instrumental in revising and building support for an improved definition of consultation.  (Bonus points if you go into our Senate ANGEL site and compare the May 2007 version of the Bylaws you can find in our "About the University Senate" FAQ folder with the April 2010 version you can find in our "Campus Initiatives" folder for 2009-2010.)  Our aim was to ensure that the Senate would be a forum in which important issues facing the campus would be addressed.

Years later, when I was Vice Chairperson, I worked with fellow Executive Committee members and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Kevin Kearns in particular to bring this definition in line with The Policies of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York and to use the BOT Policies, along with other sources, including those from AAUP and Middle States, to develop a definition of "shared governance" and hone our definitions of "faculty" and "voting faculty."  Our overarching goal was to reach agreement on procedural matters that were a persistent source of conflicting interpretations and conflicts over applications as we transitioned from the Hefner to the Horvath administrations.  We attempted to clearly identify different levels of shared governance, from decisions that were administrative prerogatives (where their only responsibility was to seek feedback and input from appropriate individuals and groups) to decisions that required the highest level of shared governance at Fredonia (formal consultation with the Senate, some other official governance body with Faculty-delegated consultative authority, or with the Faculty itself in an official faculty meeting).  We also wanted to establish that the Bylaws apply to everyone on the Faculty and hence that every member of the Faculty (which we define as inclusively as possible within BOT Policies) has the right to cast an equal vote to ratify (or not) Senate-approved substantive amendments to them.  That includes non-voting ex officio members: those with management/confidential appointments are not permitted to serve or vote on the Senate or on Senate Standing Committees at SUNY Fredonia, but they are permitted to vote on Bylaws ratification decisions.

Administrative Review

This was another major initiative during both the Hefner and Horvath administrations.  The heavy lifting was done while I was Chair, when the Senate had to decide what direction to take.  I presented the case for compromising with President Hefner on the purposes of administrative review (which, because a joint effort would involve personnel matters, would require keeping reports on specific Vice Presidents and their divisions confidential), while Vice Chair Tuggy made the case for Senate going it alone and thereby maximizing transparency and the accessibility of reports.  As you can see, we ended up going with the joint effort during the Hefner administration and refining it at the start of the Horvath administration.


We did a lot of work over the past 6 years clarifying the responsibilities and terms of officers.  Perhaps the most significant shift came during Dale Tuggy's tenure as Chairperson, when we moved from having a rotation of Vice Chair to Chair with 1-year terms for both positions to removing the rotation and allowing the Chairperson to run for up to 4 consecutive 1-year terms before having to sit out for at least one academic year.  The idea here was to strengthen the position of the Chairperson relative to the administrators he or she would be working with by allowing for multi-year planning and pacing by the Chairperson and Executive Committee.

Executive, Standing, and Affiliate Committees

We also did a lot of work clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the Executive Committee and differentiating Standing from Affiliate Committees of the Senate.  During the Hefner administration, many administrative task forces, working groups, and committees were formed that reported directly to the President.  These groups sometimes seemed to be where the real advisory or recommendation-making power on campus flowed from, so when President Horvath took office it was a top priority of Chairperson Rob Deemer and I to find some way of connecting them to Senate.  Long story short, we came up with the distinction between committees primarily aimed at facilitating consultation (Standing) and those primarily aimed at facilitating other shared governance functions (Affiliate).

Task Forces

Similarly, we aimed to clarify the purpose and roles of task forces, whether created by the President or her designee(s), by the Senate Executive Committee, or by both jointly.  Just as we wanted to avoid the appearance or reality of administrative bypassing of official shared governance bodies on campus, we also wanted to avoid confusions that arose in the past when task forces would bring their reports and recommendations directly to the Senate, but Senators would be unclear on what motion was actually coming before them and what precisely they were voting on.  By making sure that task forces would be charged with reporting to the people or bodies that formed them, and putting the responsibility for initiating consultation based on those reports with those people or bodies, we sought to provide an orderly path for recommendations to become motions before the Senate.  This shift has recently been the subject of a small controversy, which I'll address in another post.

Academic Departments

Another major transformation that the 2013 Bylaws revisions enshrined in our official practices and procedures was to identify departments as Faculty-delegated official governance bodies at SUNY Fredonia, with specific consultative responsibilities as defined by the BOT's Policies.  We sought input from a variety of sources, both on and off campus, before we made this judgment call.  This is a shift we are still wrestling with on campus and within departments themselves (including my own); the Fredonia UUP Chapter Executive Board and the Senate Executive Committee have tried to address the issues in different ways, which I'll get into in another post.

Electronic Quorum and Voting

Given that one of the knocks on shared governance is that the faculty and administrative calendars don't mesh well together, so that going to a body like the University Senate means you have to get things done between September and December or between January and May, we decided to develop a system for electronic deliberation and voting.  Too many times in recent years, time-limited proposals have been sprung on Executive Committee during the winter or the summer, and we have had to invoke our emergency powers in order to respond.  Once the Senate approves in our May meeting the use of google groups for deliberation and the current electronic voting system that we use for elections and ratification votes for between-meeting voting, the new Bylaws requirement for both a super-quorum and a super-majority for a motion to pass mean that we both have a way of responding to emergency requests as a body and of giving incentives for most serious business to take place in face-to-face meetings.

Senate/Standing Committee Membership

Our current Bylaws amendment ratification vote has just opened.  In it, we try to set up a system of membership on the Senate and on Standing Committees that allows for the first time since I have been at Fredonia the chance to take a semester off (for a leave, for a family emergency, etc.) during your term and that clarifies how term limits are supposed to work.  In addition, we try to make it easier to respond to sudden or late requests for governance leaders to appoint members of various non-governance groups (both existing and future).


So that's the run-down--really, just an overview, and a dry one at that--of the major Bylaws revision projects we've taken on since 2008 or so at SUNY Fredonia.  There are something like a dozen great stories behind each of them, but neither time nor common sense permits me to share any of them here and now!  I will get into some of the unresolved questions and issues our revisions have raised in another post, so you'll get some sense of the give-and-take as we consider what policies will best serve the Faculty, the university, and our students.

First Principles of Shared Governance, Part II: The Vision Thing

Every set of bylaws, no matter how seemingly dry, arcane, or limited to procedural matters, articulates a vision and enacts a theory of shared governance and consultation.  At SUNY Fredonia, we've spent a good portion of the last 5 years trying to work out just what that "vision thing" is and should be.  Our current Bylaws are the product of multiple revisions (in advance of approval by University Senate, ratification by the Voting Faculty for each set of substantive revisions, and sign-off by the President for each set that affects consultation).  By no means are they perfect, but at least we are trying to make them consistent, both internally and with respect to a theory of shared governance that I haven't seen clearly articulated elsewhere.  So let me try to identify what it is, what it's not, and what its implications for shared governance seem to be.

What It Is

The Preamble to our Bylaws makes reference to an underlying theory of shared governance by recourse to a pair of similes:
The Policies of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York establish a framework for shared governance and consultation at SUNY Fredonia (and throughout the SUNY system) and our Bylaws function as a constitution and operating system for institutional communication and decision-making that involves the Faculty and its official representatives.
What does it mean to think of bylaws as something akin to a constitution?  One way that's been quite pertinent to my own thinking about the question is that a constitution's primary function is to provide a framework within which disagreements can be aired, vetted, debated, and eventually resolved.  The only consensus it presumes is a shared commitment to resolving disagreements within the framework established by the constitution, including the means for amending it.  In the same way that all branches of the U.S. federal government are subject to the U.S. Constitution, and that state laws must be consistent with it, so, too, are the President and her designees (~the executive branch), the University Senate or other predominant official governance body for a college or university (~the legislature), and any other official governance bodies, like Standing Committees, Affiliate Committees, and academic departments are at SUNY Fredonia (~the states), all subject to their college's or university's bylaws.  The analogy isn't perfect, of course--for instance, with no equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court, power is more concentrated in the hands of the President of a campus than it is with the President of the United States--but it gets across the high stakes of the procedures our Bylaws lays out for how institutional communication and decision-making will be handled on our campus.  With those stakes in mind, our Bylaws err on the side of overspecificity; our goal is to provide everyone involved with as clear a picture as possible of how the overall (political) system is supposed to work.

Why do we do this?  I won't take you through a line-by-line reading of our definitions (although see in particular how we define "Faculty," "Shared Governance," and "Consultation" in Article I) or our run-down of the Faculty's powers and functions (Article II, which I think is our most important innovation), but I will point out some peculiarities inherent in being a campus in a state university system that includes a statewide union which represents all faculty and professionals in the system (United University Professions, or UUP).

For one thing, the Policies of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York might be better compared to the U.S. Constitution, while the SUNY Fredonia Faculty and University Senate Bylaws might be better compared to a state constitution.  Everything we do has to be consistent with the BOT's Policies, as well as with the system-wide policies and procedures approved by the statewide University Faculty Senate and signed by the Chancellor.

For another, it means the current Agreement between United University Professions and the state of New York, which focuses on terms and conditions of employment and establishes what is subject to negotiation rather than consultation, also sets bounds on what the system- or campus-level shared governance process can achieve.  When UUP asserts its exclusive right to bargain on behalf of the faculty and professionals it represents, the most any governance body can seek to do is advise both labor and management on that matter.  By the same token, unless management agrees to negotiate with UUP on any matter other than terms and conditions of employment, UUP can only advise the official governance bodies on the SUNY Fredonia campus.

This is where we probably reach the limits of the "constitution" analogy's usefulness, and where it might be more useful to turn to the "operating system" simile.  For another way of thinking about bylaws is that they function in a similar way as an operating system in a computer does:  they allow the parts of the computer (~the university) to work together, act as an intermediary between hardware (~the people and resources of the university) and programs (~the functions of those people and resources), provide a platform for application software (~the range of things universities do), and need to be working for users (~administration, academic faculty, professional staff, students) to make the computer (~university) do anything.  Without a clearly-identified process for, say, approving a new degree program or a revision to graduation requirements in an existing program, get the picture, right?  Bylaws help allow the orchestration of a variety of concurrent decision-making processes essential to the operation of the university.

Consider, as well, one of the major projects it's taken leaders from the administration, the Senate Executive Committee, and the Fredonia UUP Chapter almost a year to plan:  updating and improving our University Handbook.  This entailed developing a process for deciding who reviews, revises or creates, and approves which policies.  While in theory some policies are purely administrative, others require consultation, and still others require negotiation, in practice that meant multiple meetings to determine which were which and build trust, so as to reduce the odds of turf battles arising down the road.  We're just about ready to start divvying up the actual work of policy review, revision/creation, and approval.  By clearly defining shared governance and consultation (Article I) and clearly identifying different levels and processes for shared governance (Article II, Section 3), the Fredonia Bylaws helped make it easier for the leaders of different groups figure out how to work together.

Perhaps an overly simplistic way to treat the "operating system" analogy is to think of the system of shared governance instantiated by the bylaws as a car that needs to be tuned up or overhauled periodically so that the driver can use it to get somewhere safely and quickly.  Our process of revising the Fredonia Bylaws between 2008 and 2013, and particularly during the 2012-2013 academic year, has enabled faculty and administrators to better trust the vehicle and trust each other to play our appropriate roles as we take it for a spin.

To move from similes to theory, then, one underlying principle that animates the Fredonia Bylaws is that the most unproductive conflicts--and those most important to avoid--come about because of a lack of agreement over what kind of shared governance activity is necessary in order for a given decision to be legitimately made (and by whom).  Our Bylaws draw on BOT Policies, a landmark statement by the SUNY Chancellor, and principles articulated by Middle States and AAUP (all of which we quote extensively from in Article II, Section 2) to enjoin the President and the representatives of the Faculty (which is typically the Executive Committee of the University Senate) to reach procedural agreement on every kind of decision where consultation or input from the Faculty (whether through a faculty meeting, the Senate, standing or affiliate committees, academic departments, or other bodies delegated by the Faculty to consult or give input) is warranted.  By limiting the possibility and scope of procedural conflicts, the Fredonia Bylaws enable all of us to focus on substantive matters.

What It's Not

It should be clear by now that we are trying to strike a middle ground at Fredonia between two extreme views of shared governance.

One puts the administration firmly in the driver's seat.  Since everything that bubbles through shared governance processes is ultimately advisory to the campus President--is at heart a recommendation to the President--some argue that this makes the activities of official shared governance bodies nothing but a rubber stamp or road block for decisions the administration has already made.  You see this conception of shared governance in arguments for or expressions of both administrative and faculty cynicism.  "Shared governance is a medieval relic inappropriate for the modern world of higher education."  "Why should we take shared governance seriously?  The administration will do what they want anyway."  "The key to managing faculty is getting them to believe they came up with the policy themselves."  "Faculty are too indecisive, complacent, and self-interested to govern themselves."  "Administrators are too manipulative, dishonest, and careerist to be trusted."  It's this conception of shared governance that leads too many faculty to become disengaged or disillusioned.  It's this conception of shared governance that leads too many administrators to scheme how to bypass or bamboozle official governance bodies.

The other extreme either puts the faculty firmly in the driver's seat or casts the administration as the faculty's chauffeur.  One problem with this mode of shared governance--which as a faculty member I admit I find more attractive than the other extreme--is that it tends to presume that "the faculty" will always speak with a united voice, that given time clear majorities will emerge on any and all issues, that the faculty will in fact have an infinite amount of time to arrive at consensus.  Absent the bogeyman of the administration to rally support for or against a particular position or solution, however, how consistently will the faculty be able to arrive at decisions in an efficient, fair, and collaborative manner?  Another problem with this conception of shared governance is that it runs the risk of turning official governance bodies into shadow administrations, with all the duplication of effort, turf battles, second-guessing, and mutual recriminations that seem to go with that territory.  Furthermore, the more powerful leaders of official governance bodies become, the more distant they are in danger of becoming from everyday faculty, the more everyday faculty are prone to start treating them as quasi-administrators.  And given that administrators have to manage faculty and make personnel decisions, to the extent that faculty take on these roles, whether or not they have those titles (or salaries!), they, too, will have to make judgment calls where there are valid arguments on many sides of a question or issue and competing goods and interests at stake.  It's truly difficult to imagine how a large and complex enough college or university would function with just the President and the Faculty doing it all, no matter how nostalgic some of us may be for those good ol' days.  And believe me, I've tried!

Implications for Shared Governance

So the moral to this version of Goldilocks is what exactly?  Let's identify a few morals:

  • Your bylaws are a useful tool for engaging in serious discussions across roles, positions, and lines of responsibility about the meaning of shared governance and consultation on your campus and the principles and values underlying the policies, procedures, practices, and systems that enable institutional communication and decision-making.
  • Revising your bylaws can provide opportunities to revisit, review, and rejuvenate agreements and ground rules for interactions between the President and the Faculty.
  • Going through the bylaws review, revision, approval, and ratification process can therefore increase awareness, build trust, and limit the odds and scope of conflicts over proper procedures, allowing everyone involved to focus on what's best for the institution and what best helps it achieve its mission.
  • It may be a pain and painstaking process to figure out how to come to agreement on what kind of shared governance activity is warranted for which kind of institutional decision, but it saves time and headaches down the road.
  • Always look to adapt rather than adopt models from other institutions or principles articulated by national organizations.  It's more important that faculty and administrators at your institution go through the process and come to agreement on a framework for approaching procedural matters than it is to hold out for every last detail of your ideal external model.  Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good--or at least the better.
  • If your President is ever resistant to good-faith efforts to improve the bylaws on your campus, look for windows of opportunity, such as when planning for a major university-wide accreditation agency site visit is in the works, when a President is close to retiring and interested in leaving a legacy, or when a President is new on the job and looking to establish good working relations with multiple campus constituencies.
All that said, bylaws are always a work in process.  They depend for their validity on the confidence campus constituencies have in them.  When legitimate objections are raised, and thoughtful revisions are proposed, they need to be carefully vetted, debated, approved, and ratified.  This fall and spring, the Executive Committee proposed and the Senate approved two more sets of Bylaws revisions, the latter of which are going up for a ratification vote shortly.  And just in the last week a procedural debate has bubbled over onto our faculty listserv.  More on these topics in later posts!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

First Principles of Shared Governance, Part I: Buckle Your Seat Belts, Kids!

I'm heading out to Albany in the middle of next week to be on a panel with SUNY Fredonia University Senate Chairperson Rob Deemer and Governance Officer John McCune at the SUNY Voices 1st Annual Conference on Shared Governance.  Its theme is "Shared Governance for Institutions of Higher Education in the 21st Century:  Beyond Stereotypes"; my focus will be "Improved Shared Governance through Strong Bylaws."  I've been playing a lead role in upgrading the SUNY Fredonia Faculty and University Senate Bylaws off and on ever since I was 1st elected Vice Chairperson in 2008, but we developed, approved, and ratified the most comprehensive set of revisions to the Bylaws last year.  Since I have only about 10 minutes to summarize our emerging vision/theory of shared governance, survey the most significant changes to the Bylaws in the past 5 years or so, and identify as-yet-unresolved questions, I thought I'd better use Citizen of Somewhere Else to work through my ideas and provide some perspective on the debates we're currently having in departments and on the Senate at Fredonia.  My girls are just about done with Japanese school this morning, though, and we have a birthday party in Fredonia to get them to by 2, so this post will have to serve as a heads-up to come back here the next week or so, check in on my progress, and weigh in in comments!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Heraldry in Ned Ward's "A Trip to Jamaica"

Taking a break from governance/union/funding matters to make a note of a surprisingly racialized heraldry reference in Ned Ward's A Trip to Jamaica (1698):
A Man under this Misery, may be said to be the 'Scutchion of the Island, the Complection of the Patient, being the Field, bearing Or charg'd with all the Emblems of Destruction, proper, supported by Two Devils, Sables; and Death the Crest, Argent. (488)
This version is from Carla Mulford's anthology, Early American Writings, and follows upon a sarcastic portrayal of the unhealthy effects of a Jamaican diet on travelling Europeans, including "The Dry Belly-Ach," which "takes away the use of their Limbs, that they are forc'd to be let about by Negro's" (488)--who are, of course, the "Two DevilsSables" referred to above.

There's a connection to both The Scarlet Letter and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn here, but what kind of connection is the question I'll leave hanging for now...and just bemoan the fact that I heard about this conference in searching for my older posts here on the topic!