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How The University Works » meet the trustees http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress Mon, 21 Nov 2011 00:40:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.12 Sympathy For Eichmann? http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/302 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/302#comments Mon, 21 Nov 2011 00:40:41 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/302 With “Why I Feel Bad For the Pepper-Spraying Policeman, Lt. John Pike,” Atlantic magazine senior editor Alexis Madrigal provides a useful discussion of the criminalization of protest and related militarization of police response. Madrigal is quite right that we’re missing the point if we pretend that Pike is an “independent bad actor” and “vilify” him as an individual without analyzing the flawed system of protest policing in which Pike operates. However, Madrigal makes a serious blunder in framing the piece.

Madrigal’s intention for the frame was to offer a provocative meditation on the way that the management of disorder dehumanizes police officers as well as the police–the sort of thing any reasonably well-read grad student should be able to churn out (cf Foucault, Fanon, etc):

I am sure that he is a man like me, and he didn’t become a cop to shoot history majors with pepper spray. But the current policing paradigm requires that students get shot in the eyes with a chemical weapon if they resist, however peaceably. Someone has to do it.

And while the kids may cough up blood and writhe in pain, what happens to the man who does it is in some ways much, much worse.

We get the point, as far it goes: Most victims of police brutality recover, but the policeman remains a brute. The ruling class doesn’t do its own dirty work; it pays the weakest of us very well to be its police (and university administrators, corporate lawyers, etc).

The last line of Madrigal’s piece is a direct homage to James Baldwin (who wrote those words about the moral ugliness of Alabama troopers using cattle prods on civil rights marchers). Channeling the novelist, Madrigal positions Pike in an educated liberal’s cartoon of the working class, a child-like Christ-figure and fool, a lumbering innocent “man like me” (except nowhere near as clever), dumbly shouldering the sins of his masters.

There are several problems with this glib, recycled framing observation. It neatly targets the magazine’s readership–the morally-conflicted members of the professional-managerial class and educators (inhabiting the upper and lower half of the top income quintile, respectively), which is to say, “us.”

It makes us feel feel better about our own complicities: I serve the system in some ways too but I’d never do what that guy does!

It produces smug condescension. We have a few moral scars ourselves, but overall we feel glad that we’re not morally deformed on Pike’s scale. We feel wise to have exchanged a degree of possible monetary rewards for affective compensation instead. The framing material is one step away from the consumable irony of the Colbert Report, which has a vast, enthusiastic viewership among those whose ideology it purportedly skewers. Like Colbert’s material, Madrigal’s frame makes it pretty easy to consume the piece in ways all too close to the one he claims to critique.

In short, Madrigal misses the point about the banality of Lt. John Pike. Hannah Arendt’s study of Eichmann (and scores of social psychologists and clinical researchers) have helped us to understand that everyday brutality (the “banality of evil”) is furthered by ordinary, unimaginative careerists obeying both orders and law out of a strong sense of duty. All Eichmanns are little Eichmanns; there’s no master villain to blame. Eichmann is responsible for his own sins and those sins are precisely his ordinariness, his obedience, and conventionality. Eichmann isn’t innocent in the system; he’s complicit.

We are Eichmann. Arendt wasn’t trying to get us to “feel bad for” Eichmann, but to see his evil in our ordinary selves, recoil, and change. The discovery that Lt. John Pike is a nice fellow to watch the game with and a good scratcher of puppy ears isn’t meant to lift his moral responsibility–or ours. His and our failure to refuse the system is the system.

Madrigal’s note erases personal, moral agency on both margins of his caricature. The lieutenant–and a few tens of million like him–have not resisted the inner Eichmann. They have chosen obedience and the warm praise of their masters, and the material rewards of their complicity.

By contrast the objects of Pike and his masters’ brutality have chosen the brave, difficult, path of refusal.

But by brave and difficult, I don’t mean exceptional. At most of the forks in our road, most of us choose the brave and difficult path. Every day, hundreds of millions of us refuse invitations to be Eichmann. We refuse to be exploiters and thugs, or their attorneys and lower managers. That’s why democracy works better than hierarchy, and that, among imperfect social organizations, more democratic generally works better than less democratic.

Of course, many of us having made many better choices than Pike doesn’t make us perfect. Far from it. We have accepted a whole lot of Eichmann in our own lives. We could choose a lot more democracy than at present–particularly in our workplaces and schools.

The lesson of Lt. Pike is not that he’s the victim of a lousy policy (“just the end point” of a system of which he “is a casualty too,”as Madrigal says). The lesson is that even within a flawed system he could and should have chosen better. So can we all.

So no, you don’t pretend that the legion of Eichmanns are master villains. But you don’t make excuses for them, either. You try them for their crimes–and you hunt down the little Eichmann in your own soul.

Update Sunday 7pm: Pike and one other UC-D officer have been suspended, and UC system president Yudof will conduct an immediate review of police protocols on the individual campuses.

If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and watch this incredible footage of a shocked and chagrined UC-Davis chancellor walking through a long, seated double file of silently reproachful students.

Also this interview with one of Pike’s victims in BoingBoing: “I received a lot of pepper spray in my throat. I vomited twice, right away, then spent the next hour or two dry heaving. Someone said they saw him spray down my throat intentionally. Another girl near me who has asthma had an attack triggered by the pepper spray, and she was taken to the hospital.”

Previous coverage:

What UC-Davis Pays for Top Talent
Campus Occupations Intensify
Occupying the Catholic Church
Teach-in at Washington Square
Crackdown at OccupyBoston
Why I Occupy
All the News Fit For Bankers

Bankers Chuckle (Must-See Footage of the Week)
Occupiers Issue First Statement (And it’s Bigger News than Radiohead Rumor)
Mass Arrests on Wall Street
Protests Spread to Both Coasts
Police Violence Escalates: Day 5
Wall Street Occupation, Day 3
What Are You Doing for the Next 2 Months?
Occupy and Escalate
Big Brother on Campus
California Is Burning
Will Occupation Become a Movement?
Grad Students Spearhead Wisconsin Capitol Occupation
The Occupation Will Be Televised
The Occupation Cookbook

related:
More Drivel from the NYT
Citizens Smarter than NYT and Washington Post, Again
Education Policy Summit or Puppet Show?
Parents and Teachers, the Alienated Democratic Base
Dianetics For Higher Ed?
We Are All Roman Porn Stars Now
The Churchill Case Goes To Trial

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Beyond Yeshiva: NLRB Tackles Both Church and State http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/280 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/280#comments Wed, 19 Jan 2011 18:02:23 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/280 You don’t know the name Elbert F. Tellem, but you will. Just last week, as the acting Director of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) District 2, Tellem issued a potentially historic decision green-lighting contingent-faculty unionization at Catholic-affiliated Manhattan College. In the process, he threaded his way through some of the most dishonest law in the country, throwing the NLRB’s support behind the human rights of faculty serving contingently at many religiously-affiliated institutions.

This is the front lines of academic labor struggle, pitting the moral force of the NLRB against a conservative, reactionary Federal court that refuses to enforce its rulings and the arrogant hypocrisy of wealthy, influential religiously-affiliated administrations.

Legal Fictions: Great Falls

The terrain of this struggle is far beyond the Yeshiva decision, which applies only to the minority of tenurable faculty (on the basis of the specious claim that they are managerial employees). Since ¾ of today’s faculty are graduate students or lecturers on casual appointment, they can hardly be described as managerial, and can’t be denied bargaining rights by way of Yeshiva.

Instead, today, private institutions with a religious affiliation rely on the claim that employees at “religious institutions” should be sweepingly excluded from National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protections. (As if being forced to bargain collectively with groundskeepers, secretaries and writing instructors might interfere with their “religious liberty,” an argument that could be made with the same merit about obeying traffic laws.)

While the NLRB has consistently distinguished between institutions with a substantial religious character and those with a religious affiliation, a 2002 D.C. Circuit Court opinion involving the University of Great Falls, a small Montana institution, radically undermined the Board’s authority, substituting a very loose religious-exemption test for the NLRB’s stricter standard.

Under Great Falls, courts may compel the NLRB to accept at face value the claims to a religious exemption of any institution that “presents itself to the public” as a religious institution.

Denying NLRB the power to distinguish between real and false claims to the exemption is a transparent assault on long-established employee rights and protections. Under the Great Falls ruling, essentially, any employer that claims the exemption may have it.

And unlike Yeshiva, the ruling applies comprehensively–to part-time faculty, students, and non-teaching staff.

This sweeping and radical new barrier to organizing came into being in much the same way that Yeshiva did, with the determination of a conservative activist Circuit Court judge. Backed by Jesse Helms and appointed by Ronald Reagan to fill the seat vacated by Antonin Scalia’s elevation to the Supreme Court, and at this writing the chief justice of the D.C. Circuit, David Sentelle has been described by The New York Times as “one of the federal judiciary’s most extreme conservatives.”*

Sentelle’s vote was instrumental in overturning the convictions of Oliver North and John Poindexter. He replaced the moderate Robert Fiske with the right-wing ideologue Kenneth Starr as independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation. A long-term Republican party operative, even four years after his appointment to the federal bench, Sentelle was still publishing right-wing screeds against “leftist heretics” who he claimed sought to establish “a collectivist, egalitarian, materialistic, race-conscious, hyper-secular, and socially permissive state.”

Sentelle’s transparently activist opinion in Great Falls gutted the NLRB’s authority so far beyond reason that several attempts have been mounted as a test of the ruling.

The best of these before Manhattan College came forward in March 2009, during the first year of the Obama administration. Fully supported by the NLRB’s ruling that the school’s ties to the Presbyterian Church were too insubstantial to justify a religious exemption, the UAW-affiliated faculty of Carroll College, like the faculty of Yeshiva, simply came to Federal court seeking enforcement of the Board’s ruling in its case.

But who did the NLRB and the faculty union find waiting for them? A fellow named Thomas Griffith, who arrived at the D.C. Circuit Court directly from a five-year stint as general counsel and assistant to the president of Brigham Young University.

Unsurprisingly for the recent former general counsel of a religiously-affiliated university, Griffith’s 2009 opinion in the Carroll case bluntly applies the 2002 ruling advanced by his sitting chief: “Under Great Falls, Carroll is exempt from the NLRB’s jurisdiction. We thus need not address Carroll’s argument that its faculty members are managerial employees who fall outside the protection of the NLRA. We grant Carroll’s petition for review, vacate the decision and order of the NLRB, and deny the Board’s cross-petition for enforcement.”

*New York Times, August 17, 1994. Qtd in Joe Conason and Gene Lyons. The Hunting of the President. Macmillan, 2000, p131 (cited p 387).

Tellem’s Stand: Against the DC Circuit Court

With his decision in the Manhattan College case, Tellem is clear about the nature of the struggle: “The D.C. Circuit has refused to enforce Board cases asserting jurisdiction based on the Board’s test. Instead, the D.C. Circuit has set forth” its own test, which the NLRB “has not adopted.”

By highlighting the Circuit Court’s activist intervention and NLRB’s resistance–in a decision that will likely be contested in that same Circuit Court, with David Sentelle still sitting as its chief–Tellem is placing the court on notice that the NLRB will continue to affirm its constitutional right to jurisdiction.

Waiting for Tellem?

It’s not clear how the Manhattan College struggle will turn out.

What is clear is that decisions made by Tellem and the NLRB don’t make faculty self-organization possible.

It’s the other way around: Faculty self-organization makes it possible for Tellem to make decisions like this one. The Manhattan College faculty serving contingently have been fighting this battle for well over a decade and will keep fighting it.

When we face shabby rulings like Great Falls, does it make sense for us to assume that the decision proceeded from ultimately reasonable arguments advanced by truth-seekers? Are they arguments put forward in an adversarial system but refereed with a reasonable degree of impartiality and with the prospect of eventual accountability in higher courts?

Of course not. We need to see clearly that these are specious, intellectually dishonest arguments by activist reactionaries abusing the power of the bench to deny fundamental human rights.

We need to see clearly that these rulings are the product of a flawed, inherently political process that is likely to disadvantage both truth and justice for decades to come. Few observers would say, for instance, that the current Supreme Court is the place to test David Sentelle’s opinion in Great Falls.

But if the Supreme Court can’t help us, what should we do? If the United Auto Workers and American Federation of Teachers aren’t willing to spend any more of their resources fighting a reactionary judiciary, what should we do?

Ultimately what Yeshiva (1980), Great Falls (2002) and Carroll (2009) teach us is simple: what matters more than the law is the movement. The individuals who used (or abused) their power in these decisions were part of a social reaction to liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s, including workplace democracy, feminism, and civil rights.

They aren’t lone wolves; they’re conservative activists bound in a net of common culture, values, and mutual support. They didn’t have law, precedent, or reason on their side; they simply imposed their reactionary will and made new law out of the power represented by their movement.

It would be tremendously foolish if we permitted any of these rulings to constrain us.

We can build a movement with the students, nurses, young lawyers, schoolteachers, and countless others affected by exploitative and super-exploitative patterns of employment.

We can overcome this dense lattice of hostile law. We can and must imitate the 1960s movement of public employees whose self-organization was illegal and yet also an unstoppable force for writing new law reflecting truth, justice, fairness, and democracy.

From the perspective of our individual campuses: Is Yeshiva relevant? Are Great Falls and Carroll?

Not to a movement, no—no more so than any of the thousands of municipal statutes once theoretically constraining the movement of schoolteachers and sanitation workers. The tightest straps on those schoolteachers and sanitation workers were never the law; they were emotional and intellectual and habitual—habits of deference to, and trust in, authority.

They burst free. We can too.

Partly adapted from a recent contribution to Expositions

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The United States of Alabama http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/260 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/260#comments Wed, 14 Jul 2010 16:38:09 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/260 Only way to please me
turn around and leave
and walk away
–Alabama Getaway, lyrics by Robert Hunter

Many who learn that the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) amputated a $650,000 state appropriation, not to mention a flow of grant money, just to rid itself of a labor center (and Glenn Feldman, the accomplished historian who directed it) will focus on regional differences. One early commenter to Peter Schmidt’s report for the Chronicle blamed “Dixie” culture, saying that this is what happens to someone who “bucks the system in that part of the country. The more the South changes, the more it remain the same.”

As a veteran of the Southern-gothic, All-The-Kings-Men style politics of one right-to-work state university with close administrator connections to UAB, I guess my first impulse was at least similar: I can still remember the liberation I felt when I left my tenured position at the scandal-ridden University of Louisville (UL), where concerned faculty were run out of town for questioning the wall-to-wall administrative solidarity that protected a dean embezzling his federal grants, a scheme of extreme work-study that has turned thousands of students into the serfs of UPS, and claims of “research-1″ status for a campus with a six-year graduation rate hovering around 30 percent.

As just one small instance of my own experience: the aforementioned embezzling dean tried to shut down the academic labor journal I founded (then being edited by one of my graduate students and my friend and colleague Wayne Ross, one of the many who left UL– in his case moving on to Canada’s answer to Cal-Berkeley, the University of British Columbia). That little act of nastiness wasn’t even one of the 30+ official faculty complaints about that one individual that the UL administrative Borg was covering up. But what drove us away was in most cases not one act; there were dozens of acts that each dissenter experienced, some raising to the level of grievable offenses, others just making life hard.

‘Sweet Home USA’ for Business

But despite that temptation, my second impulse is more analytical. The point isn’t any minor differences (even differences of degree) displayed by scandal-plagued politicos and jet-setting higher ed “leadership” in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee over the past decade. The real point, as commenter Ellen Schrecker points out, is the similarities–that labor and labor scholarship continue to be under assault across the country.

I’d go further than Ellen with the similarities–it’s a question of the turn toward steadily more anti-democratic practices of education administration more broadly. Not to mention the related notion that politicians are, effectively, the “managers” of the public sphere that we can trace to Democrats Clinton and Gore, right on down to their intellectual heir and Wal-mart admirer currently occupying the White House.

It’s a pretty big picture, and one that clearly doesn’t yield to partisan analysis: the scary stuff is what Democrats and Republicans agree on. Obama’s ed secretary Arne Duncan made Tennessee sole winner of the reviled Race to the Top competition because of the state’s willingness to do to both K-12 and higher ed what he’d already done in Chicago: turn schools over to private and for-profit managers; silence teachers, students, and parents; strip down the curriculum; increase the direct voice of commercial interests in administration at every level.

Likewise, the UAB business school dean (Klock) responsible for pushing  first practiced his hatcheting ways here in California. It’s not a regional issue at all or even restricted to higher education workplaces.

The many things that should concern us about Feldman’s experience in Alabama are all things happening in schools at every level across the country:

+ Administrator pro-business bias

+ Consolidation of administrator power

+ Declining faculty power and declining faculty solidarity

+ Abuse of credentialing (UAB has demanded that full-professor Feldman go back to school and earn a year’s worth of credits to retain his tenure)

+ Ever-closer ties between corporations, politics and the campus

+ Business influence on curriculum

+ The culture-struggle practice of administration, designed to produce compliant subjectivities and expel dissenters

+ A growing legal web that muzzles faculty governance speech at public institutions

+ The abuse of standards of civility and collegiality to paint an understandably upset victim as unreasonable, a tendency in which I have to say that Peter Schmidt’s reporting unfortunately participates (though to be fair to Schmidt I haven’t seen the documents he characterizes).

In general, though, on this subject I agree with the complaints of commenter “thomasjefferson”:

“Let’s see. He was a tenured, full professor at UAB for 14 years. They shut down the labor center of which he was director and then they tried to set him up for termination by trying to get him to take 18 grad hours in a subject in which they’re planning to shut down the department. And he’s not happy about that. I wonder why?”

And with commenter “mchag12″:

“The relationship with the faculty at public universities is just becoming untenable as faculty are treated as line items to be dispensed with at will by high paid administrators. What would you do, azprof, if your department was slated for demolition and your university actually asked the state legislature to defund it? Back out of the room shuffling and bowing and repeating thank you, thank you? If you think you are safe, you’re not.”

That last line by mchag says it all.

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ACLU Slams UC Administration http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/251 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/251#comments Thu, 08 Apr 2010 17:39:52 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/251 In a nine-page report, the ACLU just slammed the Berkeley administration for trampling on the rights of two student protesters. And: is the Minneapolis conference about this year’s campus unrest the last act, or a prelude to even bolder action? Watch the live broadcast to find out.  There was a police confrontation at a sit-in yesterday and the Oakland schoolteachers are striking later this month. Stay tuned for the events of  May 1 through May 4.

The ACLU report relentlessly portrays an administration that over-reacted and over-reached its authority, laying ludicrous charges (such as “attempting arson”) for which the university had literally no evidence (nor could have, because no “arson” was attempted, duh), imposing punishment without due process (like, uh, being heard), devising strictures it had no right to impose, etc. Read all blistering nine pages here and sign the petition, if you like.

Since there are dozens of student protesters’ cases still to be considered, ACLU’s swift response is a modest but real blow to the gangster theory of higher education administration: “Call ’em arsonists in the press and then kick ’em out without a hearing! That’ll teach the rest of ’em!”.

Thanks, ACLU. My check is in the mail.

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California is Burning http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/230 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/230#comments Thu, 19 Nov 2009 18:17:25 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/230

Update: you’ve got to watch this video.

Yesterday the UC Regents walked into a room packed with gasoline and nonchalantly lit their cigars–handing down tuition increases that will hike 2010 rates 44% over 2008, turning higher ed into a gated community for the offspring of California’s “Real Housewives” class. Their bet is the usual bet made by the comfortable: someone else will get scorched.

Why wouldn’t they feel safe? We live in an upside-down world where bankers–not the capitalists, just their paid lackeys–get bonuses larger than the deficits of entire states, and the money pimps at the Wall Street Journal are saying, yeah, take it, citizens, take it, ha-ha! And say thank you, too!

The misery of tens of millions in every sector of the public–in education, health, income security, could be swept away if we forced more bankers and executives to live like teachers and nurses for a year or two.

California is Burning

That pent-up misery is volatile, though, and starting to flow around the feet of the bankers. More and more of us are waking up to one thought: It’s the capitalism, stupid!

For over a year now, students, faculty, and parents across the globe have been turning out by the hundreds of thousands to protest American-style “reforms.” You know: junk curricula, volunteer teaching, the return of indentured servitude, corporate domination of research, ruthless administrator control. The NYT serving up Stanley Fish (“Do your job, punk!”) as the face of higher ed.

Today, American students, staff and faculty are protesting American-style education.  Led by staff strikes and student occupations, a pillar of fire is racing across the California desert toward the huge air-conditioned mausoleums of the trustee class.

No question, it’s not yet an inferno.

But last month’s occupations featuring a few dozen are now occupations of a few hundred: 500 students have set up barricades at UC Santa Cruz; hundreds more marched chanting through hallways at San Francisco State, taking over an administrative building.

At least a thousand students and faculty will face off against riot police and join staff picketing the Regents in Los Angeles.

Yesterday 14 students were arrested for chanting and singing “We Shall Overcome” during the regents’ theater piece (“we’re having a meeting here and trying to pretend that the outcome is in doubt!”)

At 6 am this morning two or three dozen students stormed UCLA’s Campbell Hall, chaining the doors.

Give Thanks for the Disobedient

This has actually been a season of swift victories for faculty and students–wherever we’ve seen truly organized and militant faculty, as with AAUP-Oakland in Michigan in October, or grad students, as at Illinois this week, the administration has quickly caved.

Of course the administrators caved–the real power is where it’s always been, with the mass of us, if we can just keep ourselves together long enough to say “no” in one breath.

The California situation is bigger and more complex.

And the faculty with the loudest voices, those in the tenure stream at the UC campuses, aren’t unionized: most of them and many of their students have little experience with solidarity with other education groups, much less other labor sectors.

They’re doing their best, but they can’t help themselves. So far it seems they want to save their idea of Berkeley and other public research universities–and just don’t care all that much about Cal State Fullerton,  third grade teachers in Modesto, or the nontenurable faculty they work with every day.

Because, honestly, if they did care about other educators and workers, they’d have been out in the streets long ago! And not too many of them are in the streets right now.

The biggest problem with this California movement is that the folks who are actually in the streets–staff, especially, but grad students, contingent faculty and undergraduates–are letting the tenured do the talking for them.

I mean, these are decent folks doing the talking. Don’t get me wrong. Still, why not shut up and hand the mike to the militant, articulate, intellectual staff, for a change?

As higher ed becomes a mass experience–as more and more workers in all sectors become highly educated, whether they learn in schools or on the job–it is harder and harder to pretend that higher ed is just about the reproduction of the Bush family’s privilege. Today, higher ed is a field of working-class struggle, and one of the reasons it’s still hard to see that is the hierarchical, undemocratic tendency represented by handing the mike to Judith Butler. Again, no offense to Butler and other mike holders. (After all, I’m holding one right now, aren’t I?)

This might be a moment where the tenured might–just might–have unexpected humility thrust on them & achieve enough overnight wisdom to subordinate their Stanley-Fish-sized egos and take leadership from pipefitters, nurses, and food service workers.

We’ll see.

In the meanwhile, I’ll be giving thanks for the disobedient, those chaining themselves to doors and shutting down the absurdity of business-as-usual while thugs in suits hand over our future to yet another movie actor.

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Terminating California http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/207 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/207#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2009 18:10:15 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/207 Bob Samuels is the president of UC-AFT, the union representing nontenurable faculty at University of California campuses across the state. Like thousands of others, he recently received a layoff notice in the wake of the chancellor’s assumption of ’emergency powers’ (the academic equivalent of martial law).

On his blog recently, Bob explained how 3500 U.C. “fat cats” earning over $200,000 are living large while students are being turned away and the teaching faculty–most earning less than bartenders–are being terminated and involuntarily furloughed. Learn more at Remaking the University and the California Faculty Association.

For me the most eye-popping statistic that you’ve been tracking is the soaring compensation in the upper echelons at the University of California–what you call the “$200,000 club.” In the past three years, this group has grown by 50% and collects more than 11% of the salary budget for the whole university system.

Couldn’t UC address its financial issues by adjusting the salaries and/or selective terminations among this group alone?

Almost all of the people making over 240,0000 are medical faculty, law and business faculty, coaches, and senior administrators, and many will have only a small part of their salaries reduced in the UC furlough plan. The unions are calling for a 25% reduction of these positions. As we say, the UC needs to chop from the top.

By contrast, the lowest paid workers, including many of the faculty you represent, have endured austerity for decades, haven’t they?

Many faculty and staff have received no pay increases during this period; their labor subsidizes the raises of the highest paid employees.

You’ve called this a “fake” fiscal crisis. What do you mean by that?

UC has an operating budget of $20 billion and investments of over $50 billion; this was also a record year for external grants. They need to just move money around or share the profits of the revenue-generating sectors.

The new UC chancellor Mark Yudof has been green-lighted for the university equivalent of martial law– “emergency powers.” What is he doing with those powers?

He is imposing the furlough plan and allowing the fiscal emergency to trigger the layoff clause in union contracts.  Who knows what else he can and will do.  It is martial law.

Is this restructuring really necessary, or just desirable from management’s point of view?

There is a long-term problem on the horizon, which has to do with the pension losses of at least $16 billion, and the UC will need to require high pension contributions from the university and the employees, but this means they need more workers and students, and they have to stop giving people outrageous salaries that turn into incredible pensions. Many executives are given special pension supplements, which will cost dearly in the future.

What has to change is funding undergraduate instruction out of temporary funds, while everything else is funded out of permanent funds.  In the current system, when there is a decline in state funding, they have to gut undergraduate education.

How will the administration’s actions affect California students?

In order to show they need more state money, the President has said that cuts have to be made visible on the campuses.  This means larger classes, the elimination of many courses, fewer services, the suspension of requirements, higher fees (tuition), more student debt, the slosing of entire programs, online instruction, and it will take students longer to graduate because they will be unable to get the required courses they need. Also, many will lose their financial aid if they do not graduate on time. >

This doesn’t sound smart even from a sales and marketing point of view–how will the restructuring affect the reputation of the UC system and its ability to attract international and out of state students?

Right now, the UC attracts so many students, that it feels it can do almost anything and still be highly selective.  UCLA has been the most applied to school in the nation for the last several years.  It only accepts 5% from out of state, but it might move to increase this number since out of state students pay about four times as much for tuition.

How are the UC and CSU unions responding?

CSU really does have a budget crisis, and they have one union for tenured, non-tenured faculty and staff. They are being forced to accept furloughs for everyone and massive layoffs for the non-tenured. UC has many different sources of revenue, and the tenured faculty are not unionized.  So the faculty and staff will get a furlough/salary reduction, and the UC has to bargain with the unions, but the UC is refusing to meet with the unions or answer their questions. There is major union busting activity going on, they have hired the top union busting law firm, and they are blaming layoffs on the failure of the unions to accept the furlough plan.

What lessons does the California situation offer to public university systems in the rest of the country?

Faculty have lost control of their own institutions, which are now run by administrators with no interest in education.  Faculty have to fight to regain control, and scale down the administrative bloat.  There also has to be a plan to defend undergraduate instruction and share revenue across sectors. Students also have to get involved and demand a quality education or they will be neglected.  If all of the workers and faculty were unionized, they could create a united front, but now they are being pitted against each other. Tenured faculty have also bought into the free agent system, where they negotiate their salaries through private deals circumventing the peer review process, and this has to stop.

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Tennessee Takes “Turkey at the Top” Award http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/169 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/169#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2008 22:48:18 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/169 Turkey at the top is always intensely competitive. This year’s contenders included first runner-up Robert Felner, the U of Louisville dean indicted for conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion in what the feds allege are repeated acts of embezzlement of grant monies amounting to over $2 million. Not content with these escapades, Felner racked up 31 grievances and complaints in his 5 years at the “U of L” but was consistently backed against the faculty by upper administration, especially Provost Shirley Willihnganz and President James Ramsey, who spent extravagantly on lawyers and consultants to prop up his administration despite what numerous accounts (including this one and others that I’ve privately confirmed) termed an “onslaught” of complaints from faculty, staff and students alleging “unsavory behavior, ranging from sexual harassment to workplace intimidation.” This pair continued the authoritarian regime of wall-to-wall administrative solidarity and secrecy established by their high-living predecessors, former provost Carol Garrison and former president John Shumaker–later found sharing lavish hotel rooms and limousines at public expense, while jetting to trysts in the University of Tennessee’s private plane.

But every year only one can win. This year’s award goes to the chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, Charlie Manning, for his new business model for higher ed in his Appalachian state. Over the past couple of decades, the great state of Tennessee has burned millions of education dollars on executive compensation, sports facilities, and miles of orange carpet–while leading the country in squeezing its faculty.

Of course the “new” business model isn’t new at all–it’s just Chuck Manning refusing to let a good crisis go to waste. It’s the same tired Toyota-management theory from the 80s, with wide-eyed managers and credulous politicians swapping bromides (crisis=danger + opportunity) of doubtful validity, linguistic or otherwise.

In the big picture of capital, Chuck Manning is just a low-level squeezer–the higher-ed equivalent of a regional manager for PepsiCo. The first half of the “opportunity” for higher-level squeezers and shareholders has already been realized, in the stabilization of finance-industry holdings and incomes. Chuck’s job is to realize the other half of the opportunity–squeezing a few more nickels and dimes out of his already-on-food-stamps faculty, and further watering down the thin gruel he passes off as “higher education.”

In the business curriculum, squeezing nickels and dimes until your workers are living on food stamps, loans, or gifts from relatives is called “long term productivity enhancement.” Manning’s ideas for good squeezing include:

+ Requiring students to take a certain number of online courses en route to their bachelor’s and associate’s degrees.

+ Turning online learning into an entirely automated experience “with no direct support from a faculty member except oversight of testing and grading,” and providing financial incentives for students to voluntarily accept teacherless education-as-testing.

+ Use even more adjuncts and convert the remaining tenure-stream faculty into their direct supervisors, “formalizing” that arrangement. (Can you hear me screaming “I told you so”?)

+Use “advanced students” to teach “beginning students” and build that requirement into curriculum and financial aid packages. (Again, I’m screaming. You should be screaming too.)

+Increase faculty workload, initiating a “students-taught” metric to supersede courseload, and “revise” summer compensation.

+Austerity for the poor–cutting athletics at community colleges, eg–but rewards for privatization and revenue-producing programs, etc etc.

Reading all this life-in-wartime austerity of fake correspondence learning, students as teachers, faculty as supervisors, and a standing army of temps, you’d think there was actual fat to be trimmed (other than in the administration).

But the reality is that if you’re really experienced and qualified, teaching 10 courses a year for Chuck Manning nets you about 15 grand without benefits, or less than you’d make at Wal-mart. That’s quite a bit less than half the $33, 960 that the extremely useful Living Wage Calculator says is necessary to support one adult and one child in Knox County.

This has been going on for quite some time, as the hero of our Faculty on Food Stamps video series, Andy Smith can tell you. Since starring in the series, Andy has learned another hard lesson about Chuck Manning: asking politely for a raise gets you a) strung along with months and years of “we’re considering that” and b) turned down flat when they run out of string.

When higher ed administration has left you jaded–when blood from a stone doesn’t thrill you any more–call Charlie Manning, this year’s Turkey at the Top. He’ll squeeze you a faculty smoothie and slip you a side of diploma mill, and do it with a smile.

PS–Next, I’ll tell you what I think Tennessee faculty and students ought to do, just IMHO, of course.

PPS–Oh, and Obama watchers? This kind of quality-management nickel-and-diming employees literally to death is the hallmark of the Clinton economy and Clinton-Gore approach to the public good. The next few weeks will tell if Obama thinks labor will fall for the quality scam again (doubtful), while he sells out our dreams, cozying up to folks like Manning and Michelle Rhee. You want to know what higher education will look like if Clinton-Gore principles are put to work? Just look at Charlie Manning’s work in Gore’s home state.

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Meet the Trustees, Part 1: Trustees Behind Bars http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/119 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/119#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2008 15:31:22 +0000 http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/119
photo: Louis Lanzano, Associated Press
Photo of handcuffed Ralph Cioffi (center)
So yesterday I suggested that some other person take up a camera and assist the trustees to introduce themselves.But then I thought, why wait?

These clever, selfless folks have overseen the vicious gutting of the faculty–earnestly saving on our wages and benefits (“$1000 a class–what great managers we are! maybe next year we can get it down to $950! oh boy!”) in order to build themselves business centers, business colleges, and sky boxes. Being such wizards of ethics, administration, and the greater good, many of these gentle, accomplished souls have already found ways to introduce themselves to wider public notice.

The inspiration for this series is John The Boot LeBoutillier, too much of a right-wing fanatic for even Reagan’s Congress, author of Harvard Hates America, now dividing his time between higher education trusteeship and his real passion, the Skyhook II Project, “dedicated to recovering living American POWs in Southeast Asia.”

In the typology of trustees, Ideological Nutters like The Boot probably make up the largest category, right after Insufferable Nabobs. But there are others worthy of scrutiny.

Take the interesting category of trustees running afoul of the criminal justice system. No shortage of candidates in this group, but here are three, just to get the ball rolling.

There’s Ralph Cioffi, pictured above, arrested last week and charged with insider trading, securities and wire fraud. A Bear, Stearns fund manager and proud 1978 graduate of St. Michael’s College in Vermont, he recently chaired the President’s Medallion Society for big donors, and served in the 1990s to “provide leadership” on the Board of Trustees on the Audit and Investment committees, the Burlington Free Press reported.

And Ignacio Pena, convicted of fraud in California for creating a shell company to provide over a million dollars’ worth of outsourced teaching, books, and sports programming to Compton College, where he served as trustee. A million bucks would have bought a lot of outsourced teaching, except Pena never delivered any.

Some of your trustees straddle multiple categories, like Peter Lewis, President and CEO of the Progressive auto insurance company, Princeton ’55, and trustee of that institution. No question he’s an Insufferable Nabob, but he’s also a bit of an Ideological Nutter, bankrolling the movement to legalize medical marijuana (not recreational marijuana, just medicine for those who can afford the good scrips).

And like so many of us regular folks, his sincerely held values relentlessly led Lewis afoul of state power, as customs officers in New Zealand nabbed him in possession of more than quarter-pound of hash and quality doobage, not to mention “assorted smoking pipes and bongs.” That was in 2000, shortly after he made his first $50 million gift. To overcome his embarassment, he dropped another 60 mil on them the next year, and another $101 million in 2006. Now the entire campus is named after him.

And I laughed at all my Yale pals in the early 80s who, with cherubic sincerity over their bongs, kegs, and freemasonry, swore they were going into investment banking and white-shoe law firms in order to “fight the system from the inside.” None of those folks have delivered on their promise to build socialism while pulling in seven figures, but Lewis’s story gives one hope.

Good for you, trustee Lewis. They’re cheering you on in dorms, eating clubs and the crypts of secret societies up and down the Atlantic coast. You keep stickin’ it to the man like that and we’ll have a better world in our lifetime.

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