Saturday, July 2, 2011

So Much for Solidarity

At times, the UC faculty has been something of a fickle ally in our fight against austerity and privatization. The massive walkout on September 24, 2009 was successful precisely because the faculty had invested large amounts of time and energy in organizing over the summer, but as the protests began to escalate in the fall they became hesitant and many withdrew. Many students outside of Wheeler Hall on November 20, 2009 were shocked to see the faculty they saw as the most radical and sympathetic yelling at them to sit down and back off, that the squads of heavily-armed riot cops were there to protect them. After the incident at the Chancellor's house, perhaps, the split became insurmountable. A sign of this rupture is the infamous email where Professor Wendy Brown calls the Live Week protesters "hooligans" and "10 year olds," and the protest itself "pure stupidity" and "bullshit." By the spring, most of the faculty (with a few singular exceptions, of course) saw themselves as fully external to the anti-austerity struggle at the university.

Seen in this light, it's not particularly surprising that the UC Academic Council, the administrative arm of the Academic Senate, has come out in favor of tuition increases [PDF]. While "register[ing] dismay at State's continuing disinvestment in higher education," the resolution concludes:
The Academic Council advises President Yudof to request that the Regents increase mandatory systemwide charges effective in Fall term 2011 in an amount sufficient to offset the $150 million reduction in State funding contained in the State 2010-2011 budget.
If solidarity is about drawing lines that separate friends from enemies, then this statement is incredibly revealing about not only where we should situate the faculty but also how the faculty see themselves. As laripley says, "so much for solidarity."

[Update Saturday 12:44pm]: Via dettman, the Academic Council is also apparently in favor of expanding contingent labor:
As reported in the SF Chronicle, the Academic Council recommended last week that the University expand the use of contingent faculty "where appropriate" across the system, in the words of system-wide senate chair Dan Simmons. We have not seen any official announcement, or document such as meeting minutes to confirm this. But this would appear a major shift in the official position of the faculty: since when does the Senate recommend the expansion of non-senate faculty? It's enough that the administration has become addicted to the use of exploited, under-paid, and over-worked lecturers. It's a completely different position for the system-wide senate to come to the same conclusion. The senate should be in the business of expanding (at least some of) the benefits of the tenure system to contingent faculty -- not sell our collective soul to satisfy the administration's appetite for a flexible workforce.


  1. The long, sad trajectory of Boomer liberalism.

  2. What the above anonymous said. Boomer "leftist" fac take the total self-concern of their generation to the logical place we should've expected them to take it.