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How The University Works » interviews http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress Mon, 21 Nov 2011 00:40:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.12 “Occupy and Escalate”: Inside the Barricades at UC Santa Cruz http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/216 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/216#comments Mon, 28 Sep 2009 17:19:57 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/216 During last week’s massive 10-campus walkout, several dozen students and workers occupied [video] the Graduate Student Commons at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), issuing statements frankly acknowledging their intention to escalate the conflict: “Occupation is a tactic for escalating struggles,” they note at their website, “We must face the fact that the time for pointless negotiations is over.”

Their supporters aim to initiate some actual thought about the role of higher education in the economy. “A university diploma is now worth no more than a share in General Motors,” observes the author of the compelling Communique From an Absent Future:

We work and we borrow in order to work and to borrow. And the jobs we work toward are the jobs we already have. Close to three quarters of students work while in school, many full-time; for most, the level of employment we obtain while students is the same that awaits after graduation. Meanwhile, what we acquire isn’t education; it’s debt. We work to make money we have already spent, and our future labor has already been sold on the worst market around. …Even leisure is a form of job training. The idiot crew of the frat houses drink themselves into a stupor with all the dedication of lawyers working late at the office. Kids who smoked weed and cut class in high school now pop Adderall and get to work. We power the diploma factory on the treadmills in the gym.

Noting that public employees, the homeless and the unemployed have been demonstrating across the state, supporters argue that “all of our futures are linked” and the struggle over higher education is “one among many, [so] our movement will have to join with these others, breeching the walls of the university compounds and spilling into the streets.”

I completed an interview with their spokesperson this morning, on the fourth day of the occupation.

Q. Sounds pretty raucous in there. How long have you been at it?

We’ve occupied this space for almost four days now! This is one of the longest student occupations in many, many years.

Q. How many of you are there, and who do you represent?

There are several dozen or so occupiers, plus countless numbers of supporters on the outside. It’s been very impressive. For example, one first-year student, after being on campus for just one week, almost immediately organized food drives with students in the dormitories for us.

We honestly do not seek to represent anyone or any particular groups. Rather, we’re emphasizing our message: we want students, faculty, and staff at UC to occupy and escalate to stop the destruction of public education in California, and we call on the people of California who are similarly and unfairly affected by our state’s fiscal crisis to escalate in their own communities. The time for piecemeal negotiations with those who have fiscal authority over us to protect our own particular programs, jobs, or bottom-lines is over because our demands are only turned against those who face similar cuts, thus making foes of people who should be building a broad coalition to stop and reverse the damaging cuts.

Q. What inspired you to occupy UCSC, as opposed to other tactics, such as demonstrating, etc?

9/24 was the first day of classes at UCSC. As you probably know, there was a system-wide Walkout across all of the UC campuses on 9/24. We did demonstrate that day; we walked the picket line with the UPTE and CUE unions; we responded to the UC faculty call for a Walkout; some of us walked in uninvited on the large undergraduate lectures of those professors who failed to honor the picket line to make an emergency announcement about the Walkout.

Let us provide some additional context: The Santa Cruz campus of UC was already hit hard last year by steep budget cuts. The Community Studies program was gutted; minority student programs were cutback; faculty searches for departments desperate for replacements, such as the History of Consciousness, were cancelled; health care costs for graduate students were forced up; family student housing rents were jacked up-just to name a few of the attempts to balance the budget on the backs of those least able to afford it and the most vulnerable in the system. Undergraduates, graduate students, and some unions organized to stop those initial rounds of damaging cuts through petitions, demonstrations, and other tactics, to no avail.

A dire situation only worsened over the summer, which prompted the faculty to get more involved at the system level. So many of us at Santa Cruz already realized by the end of last year that the nature and severity of these budget cuts required an escalation beyond tactics of resistance that were attempted yet failed last year. As our press release (https://occupyca.wordpress.com) says, “occupation is a way of escalating struggles.” This is what we decided to do to jumpstart a year of endless confrontation with the administration over their destructive logic that subordinates everything and everyone to the budget. This is only the beginning.

Q. What are your demands specifically?

Our primary message is directed at those who should be our allies within the UC, the public education system generally, and indeed throughout the state of California, as opposed to those who have power over us. We would like to see a broad social movement against cuts to education and all other state social programs and services. Thus we appeal to these groups to organize, occupy, and escalate at their schools and colleges and universities, as well as in their local communities. To sum, demonstrations address specific issues; our actions aim at a much broader struggle. Workers are losing their jobs. Students are unable to enroll in school. We have no choice but to occupy and escalate. We call on the people of California to do the same.

Q. This is a movement that you hope will spread to other campuses, isn’t it? Any developments we should watch for?

Not only the other UC campuses, but actually throughout the entire state of California and even beyond. We’ve already been on the radio shows of several UC campuses to talk to those UC communities about the need to organize and escalate and occupy, so, yes, you should watch for developments there! The one-day Walkout and our occupation are only first-steps, the genesis of a year-long or multi-year effort to take back the UC, to re-write its priorities in the interest of public education and not privatization. The same thing needs to happen to protect K-12 education in California; did you know that one school district closed all 28 of its school libraries due to budget cuts? Whose vision of a quality K-12 education would not include access to libraries? Our purpose is not to blame local school administrators but to show how the cuts affecting the UC are also impacting everyone else in the public sector of the state. The process which has led to this point is simply unacceptable.

Q. I take it you’ve followed the recent occupations at NYU and the New School, and perhaps earlier ones at Urbana-Champaign. Any lessons you’ve taken from those experiences?

We’ve received statements of solidarity from student groups across the country, including several schools along the east coast, which can be read at https://occupyca.wordpress.com. We want to express our thanks for the support across the nation. Why stop at the borders of California? Let’s take this effort to escalate to the nation as well! Public universities are being run like corporations all across the U.S. This must be brought to an end.

Q. Are you in touch with supporters outside?

Absolutely. The occupation on the inside is only one aspect of the escalation. This requires a lot of outside support, including many students who’ve been sleeping outside the doors to the occupation zone, volunteers to pick up trash and keep the space clean, students going around campus to spread the word about the occupation, and more. Then there are those who are working on logistics and press coverage.

Q. What will it take for the state government and administration to
move in a different direction?

This is a big question! Unfortunately, it may not be enough simply to focus on amending the state of California constitution, which makes it notoriously difficult to construct a reasonable budget, or simply to focus on the next round of state elections in order to put into power friendlier decisionmakers. These things might certainly help or be steps along the way.

On the one hand, our occupation is informed by a deep critique of the political economy of the system that underscores the unacceptable way in which things are accorded value by nothing more than the bottom-line, by nothing more than the potential to make profit (and this is what is driving the budget cuts and re-structuring at the UC); on the other hand, we don’t suppose to have the answer in detail to this question, though we are convinced that attempts to negotiate to protect our own singular interests or programs or jobs–which is tantamount to arguing for their value against, and not in conjunction with or in a complementary relationship to other programs–are only making matters even worse for everyone. Deleveraging in order to rectify problems in one’s balance sheet–whether at the state, university, or local level–does not cleanly map onto a process of social devaluation, and yet this congruence is a demand of the standard operating procedures of how our institutions are currently being run, including our universities. Protests are a manifestation of that gap between the two processes of balancing a budget and people feeling their own devaluation by the system.

Anyone who slavishly submits to a social logic that reduces social things to a line item in the budget might find it hard to comprehend how protests are part and parcel to the system, not roadblocks to its smoother operation. Protests on the level of the UC Walkout and now our occupation signify that this imperative to rectify accounts is determined by a grossly unfair set of priorities that must be rejected.

We’re tired of hearing UC President Mark Yudof talk about making the UC more “efficient,” more “competitive,” about “human capital,” not because we are against some notion of what it means to be efficient, to not be wasteful, but because his speech demonstrates he needs a more complex analytic of the dynamics over-taking the UC system in this crisis. A broad-based social movement that has the capacity to articulate an alternative collective vision to the narrow, corporatist special-interests that control our budgets and strategic planning will be necessary. Nobody is sure what this will look like yet.

For now, we believe one of the first steps to building such a movement is to show that escalation and occupation is necessary and possible. We hope that groups of students, faculty, and everyday Californians can begin to see themselves, too, as people who can organize, occupy, and escalate to fight back.

Follow their websites, OccupyCa, We Want Everything and (microblog) occupyucsc and coverage in the UCSC newspaper.

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Meet Maria http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/187 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/187#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2009 00:41:18 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/187 Maria Doe is a former NIH-sponsored researcher who struggles with chronic mental illness, tumbling from the tenure stream into contingent appointments and the prospect of homelessness.

MB: When did you first begin serving contingently?

MD: My first adjunct position was in my own graduate department. The faculty member who was scheduled to teach that class was awarded a large grant to work on an international research committee and plan an international meeting. The university gave him a course release, and the granting agency matched the university in funding an adjunct. I was very well paid at the time, $4000, for the class. I did a horrible job, but I learned a lot about teaching.

The next time I adjuncted, I was in my NIH fellowship. I taught for a smaller private school, and I did a much better job. I don’t remember how much I earned, but I got excellent student evaluations. Another university in the area asked me to teach a course, but my postdoc mentor told me not to. I was struggling with my mood, and having trouble keeping up with both teaching and my training program. He was right.

Just before I took a tenure track position at a small liberal arts college, I taught a course for a small university. I made $1300.

MB: Where did you hope it would lead?

MD: What did I want from adjuncting? The first time, I wanted the money and the experience. I got both. The other times, I wanted the experience. I wanted good teaching evaluations, I wanted something to put on my CV, and I wanted professional contacts and references. As a fellow in my PhD program, I was not required to TA or teach in any way.

MB: What did you imagine professorial work was like?

MD: My dream was to be a scholar.

I cannot tell you how much I loved the exchange and development of ideas, and I was oh, so good at it. I became an expert social theorist, easily crossing disciplinary lines. That’s what I thought I’d do. That I’d have mentors, and that I would mentor others the way I had been mentored. I thought I would spend my working life immersed in the discipline that I loved.

Okay, academia is not paradise. Like all professions, it has its share of bs. But Marc, I’ve had the jobs from hell, I’ve cleaned my share of toilets, emptied garbage, dealt with pissy customers, gotten poison ivy working landscaping—in the end, no matter what, I’ll take the life of ideas. All my working life, I felt I was working towards something, a life of scholarship, a life of the mind, in a discipline that I loved. It was the discovery and the synthesis I loved.

Along the way I did publish, and I started working on grant proposals. I was on my way to being funded.

MB: What was your path into the tenure stream?

MD: My first job out of my NIH fellowship was not tenure track. I landed a year-by-year instructor position at a large, urban, R1 institution, in my specialty. I was very happy there. I had a 2/2 load, and was working with the program director and another anthropologist on a grant proposal. I submitted it, and it was rejected, but I was invited to revise and submit to another program. I was also working with another faculty member on another potential project. I was awarded a small university faculty development grant. I enjoyed my students, for the most part, especially the majors and the grad students. The program had a strong relationship with the School of Nursing, and another program that studied aging. I taught a methods class to nurses, and we had nursing Phd students in our program. My teaching evaluations were excellent.

I enjoyed what I was doing and where I was living. I was getting involved in some community organizations, singing in a choir, etc. I had access to an academic library, which was delicious.

MB: But you were still trying to get a permanent position.

MD: While full time and benefits-earning, this position was contingent on the will of the dean. I didn’t know that my position would be renewed for the following year, until April, and fortunately it was. Here’s the rub. The position was converted to TT, and I was invited to compete for it.

MB: They converted the position, but not the person serving in it?

MD: Yes, and I had two strikes against me. First, I had done my research in the US. Anthropology departments want people with overseas expertise, and I knew they were looking for an Africanist. Second, I continued to struggle with my health, and that did at times interfere with my work. That made a difference, Americans with Disabilities Act or not. My story is as much about what chronic mental illness can do to career as it is about contingent labor.

MB: You don’t feel that your disability was accommodated?

MD: No. So I applied for my own job, and was shortlisted, but under the circumstances I am convinced that my colleagues had no intention of hiring me as a TT Assistant Professor.

I applied for a research scientist job at a smaller university, was interviewed and offered the job IF I took it immediately, that January. So I left my R1 job mid academic year. I didn’t want to do that, but you know, you do what you can. The position was unclassified, with no employment security. I got sick due to a combination of things (moving, new job, inappropriate medication, scattered medical care).

Add to the mix my own incompetence and a lack of professional mentoring. The PIs came down very hard on me, with “counselling” and letters of reprimand. Work became social nightmare. I was often ignored in meetings, one PI would snort when I offered an analysis, there was eye-rolling, back-turning, and constant nagging criticism. I often lost emotional control, having to run to my work space to cry.

I was suicidal, lonely, a mess. I resigned in lieu of being fired. I gave them six months notice. I accept that my failure at that job was my own; I was incompetent, and a lack of emotional control was immature and inappropriate for a professional workplace. But, in my defense, let me note the PIs treated other employees the same way. The work group even had a name for it: The Squeeze. Another research scientist called me about a year after I had left, to see if I would take part in a legal action against the PIs and the university.

MB: And after that?

MD: It took me a year to find a job, and this time it was TT. The institution was a religiously affiliated SLAC, with a 4/4 teaching load. Teaching anthropology at an increasingly orthodox religious institution became very difficult.

I was in a three person department, and one of my colleagues was extremely conservative. He refused to teach some of the sociology courses because he would get too emotional.

MB: He was emotional? With respect to his religious beliefs and scholarship or teaching?

MD: He refused to teach Marx in social theory, he refused to teach the sociology of marriage and family and the sociology of religion, he strongly disapproved of the teaching of human evolution (a cornerstone of my discipline). He had started the same time I did but he came on board as an associated professor, with a three year tenure clock.

There was more. I won’t go into it. The school was toxic for me. I broke down, failed miserably, made some of my own mistakes in terms of my relationship with this colleague, and in toeing the ideological line at that school.
MB: You feel that things could have been different if you’d made different decisions about your teaching?

MD: Here’s an example of a big mistake on my part. I taught the race and ethnicity class, and one year I presented a unit on Muslim and Arab Americans. I wanted to challenge my students’ assumptions and prejudices. I found a photograph of a woman wearing a hijab made out of the American flag and incorparated that photo into my PowerPoint lecture. Big mistake, for I offended many people, students and other faculty.

Meanwhile, I ran through the $25,000 lifetime limit on psychiatric care. Lousy health insurance is an important part of my story.

I resigned in lieu of being denied tenure.

MB: It doesn’t sound as if the mistakes are all on your side.

MD: The school was not able to fill my 4/4 position the first year after I left. They interviewed several people, and made someone an offer. It turned out that I was acquainted with that candidate. He declined the offer for three reasons: abysmal pay, horrible health insurance, and the campus culture.

MB: Tell us about your economic situation today.

MD. I was unable to find a job after I resigned from the religiously affiliated institution. I had to abandon my house,and move to another state to stay with family for a while. My house has now been foreclosed. I abandoned almost all of my scholarly journals and books, and most of my belongings. I liquidated my TIAA-CREF accounts to have something to live on.

Twelve years of American Anthropologist went to Africa via Books for Africa.

My first job in my new state? Cashier at a big box store, $7.50/hour. A family friend, who is a faculty member in a science department at the local Mega University, gave me a temp/casual job as a research assistant. He paid me very well, but the job lasted only 90 days. I was not able to find another job I went into treatment this summer, and have continued with that.

I have been looking for some professional-level jobs. I have interviewed with the state department of health, with county governments, with non-profit organizations, others. No go.

I have lost my professional references That is absolutely the most painful part my story. The people who mentored me through grad school, postdoc, and my first two years out have told me that they will no longer support me in my attempts to return to academia.

MB: This is because of your disability?

MD: It makes me wonder if I had tried just a little harder to deal with and cover up my mental illness, would I still be employed? In teaching at a religiously affiliated institution, should I have just gritted my teeth and avoided controversial subjects, like comparative kinship and human evolution?

MB: Are you working right now?

MD: Yes, 12 hours a week at a retail job, $7.25/hour. I’ve thought about applying around for adjunct positions, but I don’t know what to say in the cover letter. I am applying for SSDI.

MB: May I ask where you get your health care?

MD: I get excellent health care through the VA. In fact, if it wasn’t for the VA, I’d be dead.

MB: You’re a veteran? Can you tell us about your family background and what made you think about
academia as a career?

MD: My father was a refugee from Central Europe; he came to the US as a boy, with his family, as part of the Displaced Persons act of 1948. My mother comes from a working class family in New England. My grandmother was 16 when she had my mother, and Grandma never finished high school. My mother left a turbulent and abusive home at age 18, met my father, got pregnant, married, and had my brother. My father got a position playing in a major American philharmonic, and the family moved to the Midwest.

My mother was driven, and she went back to college when we were still small, working her way through college and then an MA in history. I remember her sitting at the dining room table, typing her MA thesis. My father was finishing up his BS in Music Education.

My mother was accepted to a history PhD program in a Great Lake state, so we moved. My father taught music in a public middle school. I was 8 years old at the time. My parents’ marriage was falling apart, in a very nasty way. Add to the mix the a good dose of mental illness. My mother had become ABD, and had moved into university administration. She eventually married a colleague in administration, formerly a very famous historian.

MB: So you were a faculty brat—of a sort.

MD: Of a sort. I didn’t do all that well in public schools. I graduated okay from high school, and I joined the Army in the early 1980s. When I got out in 1986, I entered college at a big midwestern research instituion. I got into the honors program, ate it up, I loved college. I have always had my own difficulties with mental illness, but I got through summa cum laude, did an honors thesis, and was awarded a fellowship to the PhD program in anthropology at a respected school. Because of my chronic illness, I did not attempt to go overseas; I did my fieldwork in the US. In terms of my career, that was a big mistake.

My mother eventually finished her dissertation and landed a TT job as a historian. She has edited or written maybe 9 or 10 books. Two have won awards, and one was nominated for a Pulitzer.

MB: Have you asked your mother or her second husband for advice?

MD: I got a lot of support and encouragement from my mother and stepfather in pursuing a graduate degree. They were proud of me. In one of my mother’s books she acknowledges me for helping her to look at gender as social theory. When my career fell apart, my mother expressed some guilt about encouraging me to pursue the PhD.

I was encouraged to adjunct to develop my teaching portfolio. Then later, my mother encouraged me to look for adjunct positions as part of making a living.

MB: What are your mother and stepfather’s views of the academy’s accommodation
of disability and mental illness?

MD: My stepfather was born in 1915, and had a very old school view of mental illness; You didn’t admit it, you didn’t discuss it, it was a failure, especially for men. My mother told me never to discuss my illness with colleagues, or let perspective employers know that I had a mental illness. Members of a search committee would not consider a person with a psychiatric disability in part to protect themselves from litigation. In her view, a search committee would fear that a candidate with a disability would sue for discrimination if not hired. That may be true.

For many people with mental illness, there is always the hope, indeed the conviction, that each crisis will be the last crisis. The reality is that many people like me have a severe and persistent mental illness, but can be highly functional and able to hide their illness for a long time.

I think disabilities in general make people uncomfortable. Psychiatric disabilities are worse. The problem with seeking accommodation is disclosure. Look up “Normal is a Place I Visit.” It’s a paper by a physician who has bipolar disorder. She states that when you have mental illness, and others know, you lose your right to simply have a bad day.

MB: How do you think the academy should address chronic mental illness?

MD: You would think that academics, and especially social scientists who supposedly stick up for the poor and marginal, would be more comfortable with and forgiving of mental illness, but they are not. It’s part of a larger social phenomenon of stigma. There’s a lot of work being done on mental health recovery (not cure) being done at Yale. One of the team there came to the VA here to give a talk, I can’t remember his name. He pointed out that meaningful engagement in productive work was a big part of recovery. The idea is no longer to get someone completely stable and then back into the world, but to foster recovery by getting people back into the world with support. He then pointed out that employers were very reluctant to hire people with psychiatric disabilities, and that was a problem difficult for the care community to address. Employers often have to be given financial incentives to hire people in psychiatric vocational rehabilitation services.

MB: Not just academic employers, all employers?

MD: Right. These are almost all low wage employers. Clients placed in those jobs tend to leave after six or seven months, and that was thought to be a problem until somebody noted that six or seven months on the job was typical for all employees in these sorts of jobs. At any rate, I wish I had access to that literature to back up what I am saying.

Somebody in the audience asked the speaker what he thought about insurance parity for psychiatric care. He said it was great for people with relatively minor conditions. For those with more severe conditions, unless they have extensive personal or family wealth, they will end up very poor. As I can attest.

When somebody else asked him about social skill training for the mentally ill, he laughed and said it was overrated. Many of his high powered Yale colleagues have horrible social skills.

MB: That’s true anywhere–plenty of lawyers and plumbing contractors have poor social skills. So what should the academy do?

MD: Well, first it should live up to its ideals. One finds an ideology of enlightened inclusiveness in the social sciences and the humanities, but when it comes down to real colleagues, stigma takes over. What should we do, send everyone to NAMI talks? Maybe. What if all the members of the academy who have struggled with mental illness were to “out” themselves? It would shake up the whole academy when we find out that at least 20 percent of us have struggled with mental illness, and not just garden-varity take-your-Prozac depression that often seems fashionable. I say, let’s tell the world about the voices, the suicides, the ECT, the antipsychotics you take that make you fat, the failed relationships, crushed hopes, the shame, the debilitating insomnia … I think that I deserve a hell of a lot of credit for my considerable accomplishments given the difficulties I’ve had. Give me, and others like me, that credit!

The issue is not only stigma, but trust. Let me just add that we are all one happenstance – an illness, an injury – from disability. In five minutes, your whole life can change. As they say in the old Army training films, This Could Happen To You.

MB: How would you characterize the relationship between the tenure stream faculty and faculty serving contingently?

MD: I think benign neglect would be a good term. Work is more than just money, work is identity, dignity, and social relationships. Contingent faculty don’t have those things. Why should permanent faculty reach out to contingent workers when the contingent workers may not be here next term?

I also think that there is classism involved. Adjuncts may be invisible to TT faculty, the same way service workers are often invisible. TT faculty may also feel disdain for adjunct faculty. Why bother with losers?

I was fortunate that my colleagues in my first job were supportive of me. As a full time faculty member, while not TT, I did have daily interaction with colleagues and was able to form those professional relationships that are so important for professional development. And for the pleasure of friendship. I had time and office space to give to students, which most adjuncts don’t have.

MB: Why don’t more more employers understand how important that is to the educational relationship?

MD: Money. What did the religiously-affiliated school do to cover my classes after I resigned? It hired an adjunct, at $1800 a class. The adjunct was willing to teach all 8 classes. Do the math: that is $14.400.

MB: What’s the worst thing about serving contingently?

MD: Pay. Lack of other resources to do a good job. Lack of professional relationships. Lack of professional respect. Lack of belonging.

MB: What is your next step? What do you hope for now?

MD: I was denied SSDI. My most important goal in life is to prevent myself from becoming homeless. My next goal is to stay “homed” and able to keep my dog with me, too. I am now in a 3 week 75 hour course to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. It’s pretty tough work, but health care is the only sector of the economy that is hiring. In fact, the enrollment in these courses, in my case offered by the Red Cross, has increased dramatically due to the recession. My class has 31 students, and many of them have degrees. Many are desperate.

MB: So a lot of people doing this work originally hoped to do something else.

MD: The work of a CNA is often hard, demeaning, and dangerous. Nursing assistants often suffer from back and shoulder injuries and are frequently assaulted. Pay is low, about $10/hour. I cried for two weeks when I realized it may be my only option to prevent homelessness. It’s important work, needed work that deserves more remumeration that it gets, but I worry about my ability to do it, physically and emotionally. My illness makes it dangerous for me to work overnights. Someone who is familiar with job turnover studies will know what I mean when I say that I am going into this work with “the intent to leave.”

However, I am trying to make something of this by approaching it as a opportunity to be an anthropologist. There is a ton of ethnographic research on nursing homes. There is a ton of research done on nursing assistants. There is nothing written from the NA’s point of view.

MB: It’s all from the point of view of patients/customers or management?

MD: I am extremely concerned about patients in long term care and their families. But there is nothing about the content of the CNA courses or the way CNAs are trained. Most of the research on CNAs is based on survey data. It’s an opportunity. I’m keeping a journal of the training and doing content analysis on the text book. I’m all over Google Scholar looking for literature. It’s out there. Unfortunately, without access to an academic library, it is very difficult to get full text papers, and next to impossible to get the scholarly books. I was rebuffed by a librarian at the public library here when I approached her as an “independent scholar.” I wonder if in the world of public libraries, “independent scholar” means “quack.” At any rate, getting a scholarly book through ILL in my local public library is not free, and it certainly is not easy.

Library! give me a library!

My postdoc mentor has responded so positively to my approach to being a CNA, and that is a gift from heaven.

My hope is that I can produce some scholarship that will improve the working lives of first-line caregivers as well as the people they care for. All the literature I’ve see indicates that where nursing assistants are better off, nursing home residents are better off. I think low wage workers and the frail elderly are vulnerable groups whose voices need to be heard, and whose needs deserve to be addressed. That’s me, the critical social theorist.

MB: As an anthropologist, do you see issues with academic culture that you’d like to see explored?

MD: Real versus ideal behavior. Anthropologists tend to be socially, economically, and politically liberal, some even radical. But it is easy to make moralistic statements about social justice from a position of relative financial and social priviledge.

Right now, my anger and resentment make it difficult for me to formulate clear, unbiased research questions. I’m angry, I have my share of self righteousness, but if you were to offer me a place at the banquet, I’d fawn all over you.

Next, video featuring Paul Lauter, Paula Rabinowitz, Gary Rhoades, Jamie Owen Daniel, and others. Contact me if you’d like to tell your story: I’m particularly interested in talking to faculty serving contingently, graduate student employees, and undergraduates working while in school.

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Amazon drops price again; Preview Nelson; Anti-troll Policy http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/72 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/72#comments Sun, 10 Feb 2008 17:27:45 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/72 If you’re a diehard Amazonian, they’ve once again dropped the price on HTUW, to $17.25. I’m not sure how this is triggered. Perhaps it’s by the book’s rank on a competitor, such as B&N. I am not going to change the list price on all the pages this time–I’d just as soon folks patronized the competition! (Actually, at B&N you can get the book for less than $16 if you join their member plan.)

Very special thanks to Christine Monnier over at the GlobalSociology edublog for an incredibly detailed, thoughtful, and generous review of HTUW. Ditto for a kind mention by Lila Harper over at AFT’s FACEtalk blog.

You can preview part 1, Twilight of Academic Freedom, of my 3-segment interview with Cary Nelson in the mini-player above, or by following the link in the right column. It’s a doozy. I’ll write a proper intro for it tomorrow.

Finally: if you notice the “On Resentment” thread disappearing, it’s because I’ve decided on a firm anti-troll policy. When you have a gentle, kind zen master and experienced unionist like The Constructivist getting so frustrated that he smokes the troll with an “F-bomb,” you know it’s time to pull the plug.

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(video) Another Holiday at the Many Lunatics Asylum http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/40 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/40#comments Sat, 22 Dec 2007 19:03:27 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/40 Many Linguists Agree that More Loquacious Absurdity can be found at the Mostly Lunatics Assembly, otherwise known as the annual convention of the MLA.

Here’s part 2 of the Berube interview, in which he graciously agrees with my various leading questions about the Modern Language Association. Since this is the holiday season, I’ll save the full MLA-gate expose for another time. In the meanwhile, you can read a more temperate recent post of mine at Inside Higher Ed. And if you too will be at MLA, you can catch me at forum #280 (“Higher Education and the Service Economy”) and at the minnesota review cash bar… And if you are one of the 10,000 or so who will be interviewing for a job, and want advice, check out “Who wants to be a tenure-track professor?” by our old friend and Workplace comrade, the Constructivist.

Quicktime version (.mov)
Windows version (mpeg-1) (best quality)

We’re all working all the time, just not at “jobs”

It’s actually really heartening to see MLA staff leadership say things like “we have a job system where there are simply not enough full-time positions.” This is a big step forward from the analysis of the 80s and 90s in which staff members read tea leaves to see whether tenure-stream positions might magically increase.

Since we now know that the tenure stream won’t increase by prayer or magic, and that the wholesale conversion of our work to “student funding” and permatemp assignments was a planned, intentional assault on tenure by management: the only question is what will the disciplinary associations do to struggle against management’s continuing plans?

MLA can do a lot to defend tenure. It’s got a budget and resources far larger than AAUP. It has a respected national profile. Without engaging in censure, it can spend lots more on aggressive public relations, lobbying, the creation of model legislation, and the publication of best practices/worst practices articles in a variety of fora. It is not, as Phyllis Franklin once told me “AAUP’s job” to do these things. It’s everyone’s job, especially the disciplinary associations.

We’re all working all the time. There’s plenty of “need” for us to work. MLA can and must do more to ensure that all that work comes in the form of tenure-track jobs. It’s time for MLA to make a public-relations assault on the sexist, racist, exploitative job system.

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(video) Berube Bonus Track–On blogging http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/39 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/39#comments Sat, 22 Dec 2007 17:28:28 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/39 I’m just about to upload part 2 of the Berube interview–on the role of professional associations (like the MLA) in struggling against the corporate university. In the meanwhile, a 1-minute clip on blogging and the collapse of civilization…

Quicktime version (.mov)
Windows version (mpg-1) (highest quality)

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(video) “Somewhere between a provocateur and a buffoon” –Michael Berube on David Horowitz http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/38 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/38#comments Fri, 21 Dec 2007 01:30:36 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/38 In this first segment of our interview, Michael Berube discusses David Horowitz and the “academic bill of rights.” He talks about what happened in Pennsylvania after the passage of some Horowitz-sponsored legislation, and thinks that Horowitz may have helped the cause of academic freedom by motivating science faculty who, he says, “sat out the culture wars of the 90s.” He suggests that history may judge Horowitz as “somewhere between a provocateur and a buffoon.”

You can play a good quality streaming version in the vodpod player at right, or after a short delay you can get downloadable quicktime and mpg at the links below:

Quicktime version (.mov)
Windows version (mpeg-1) (highest quality)

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First video upload http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/31 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/31#comments Wed, 19 Dec 2007 23:07:48 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/31 I’m putting together the first interview (with Berube) in two installments. In the meanwhile, check out the trailer. The mpeg version is better quality:
Quicktime version (.mov
Windows version (mpeg-1)

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Get the book from NYU Press http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/8 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/8#comments Fri, 07 Dec 2007 17:35:37 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/?p=8 The first copies of How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation should be available at the MLA annual convention–just drop by the NYU booth. Or else you can order it from Barnes and Noble ($17.60) or Amazon ($17.25). I’ll be there, shooting a bunch of video interviews–with Cary Nelson, Jeffrey Williams, Vincent Leitch, and many others.

I’m especially interested in interviewing:

1) graduate employees and contingent faculty

2) folks willing to talk about their experiences as _undergraduate_ workers (new book in progress!)

Email me at pmbousquet (at) gmail if you’ll be at MLA and have time to sit with a camera or voice recorder.

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Video content is coming soon. http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/3 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/3#comments Thu, 06 Dec 2007 23:34:44 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/?p=3 Interviews with Jane Buck, Michael Berube, the California Faculty Association leadership, architect of the Free Higher Education platform Adolph Reed, and much, much more.

Check back about December 15!!

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