“Our working conditions are student’s learning conditions”

I often fell like a curmudgeon, trolling around and finding stories about things like the crazy Hench-woman, Lisa Troyer, who resigned after it was suspect– and then more or less demonstrated– that she had sent anonymous email in an attempt to manipulate the faculty governing process.  A recent UI Faculty Senate resolution called Troyer’s actions part of  ‘”a broad pattern of surveillance and intrusion into legitimate faculty governance deliberations” (“UI senate unanimous in criticism of Hogan“).

That’s bourgeois professor speak for “systemic corruption.”  As an anecdote for cynicism, then, I try to do some reading about positive things, trends that seem to be moving education in a good direction.  I liked “The Time is Now: Report from the New Faculty Majority Summit” for its wonderfully strident call for action. I wish the author would focus more or organizing and less on lobbying and accreditation but I cannot disagree with Bessette‘s call to begin to make university labor exploitation more publicly visible.

Also reassuring is that certain segments of the university system– the small liberal arts colleges–seem to be reinventing “an institutional history of activism” for social justice (“Social Justice Revival“).  There’s no  doubt that this trend has a lot to do with the fierce competition for students, a competition sharpened by recession, but it’s still a welcome trend.  What we need, of course, is a movement that would put these pieces together. A just labor policy ought to be the start of any social justice program at any university.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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