Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

June 19, 2015

Professors as contingent labor: a Left Forum 2015 workshop

Filed under: Academia,workers — louisproyect @ 12:37 am

This is the fifth and final video I recorded at the Left Forum over the weekend of May 29 to 31. Titled “Organizing Grad Student, Contingent, and Tenure-Track Faculty: A Fight Against Corporatization for the Soul of Higher Education”, it touched on matters close to my heart as a 21 year employee of Columbia University, someone very concerned about the corporatization of Bard College and the New School where I studied in the early to mid-sixties, and very close to someone who is both an adjunct and a tenure-track professor. For my earlier thoughts on what’s going on in academia, I’d refer you to my review of Frank Donoghue’s “The Last Professors” written in 2008. (https://louisproyect.org/2008/06/19/the-last-professors/)

Kathryn Eskew, who is a tenured professor at Hilbert College in upstate NY, chaired the meeting and spoke about her administration’s efforts to cut tenured faculty.

Ruth Wangerin is a long-time adjunct at the College of Staten Island, which is part of the CUNY system. She described a two-tiered labor system in her school and the rest of CUNY that undermines solidarity just as it does in the auto industry and other one-time strongholds of the AFL-CIO.

Joe Richard, who is a member of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, gave an inspiring talk about how the faculty and blue-collar staff joined forces to take on an administration bent on undermining wages and working conditions.

Natasha Raheja is with the Graduate Student Organizing Committee at NYU, a group that has had relative success in resisting an administration that practically defines corporatization.

1 Comment »

  1. It shouldn’t be forgotten that the “professoriat” as they like to call themselves are far from blameless in this. When I was a graduate student forty years ago, graduate students and junior faculty alike were ruthlessly sacrificed in the cause of sustaining the tenured vedetttes, who swanned about heaping scorn on this legion of losers. The brief, flylike lives of the latter provided a humorous contrast to the very serious business of holding a chair, as well as a steady source of easy sex for those so inclined. In the meantime, the most onerous teaching, grading, and research work was offloaded onto these uncomplaining grunts, who mostly did as they were told in silence until the money ran out and they took themselves God knows how to God knows where.

    There were 300 entrants in my graduate school “class” in 1972; twenty of these were eventually awarded doctorates, and four of the “doctors” got serious tenure-track jobs. All of those belonged to a small and select group who kept house in some sort of style and were able to exchange dinner and tennis invitations with the senior faculty.

    Corruption, indifference, and callous opportunism are by no means confined to journalism and high finance. Academia has offered a particularly disgusting version of both for longer than most of us have been alive.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — June 19, 2015 @ 11:16 pm

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