I Admit It

I am politically schizophrenic. I study these far-left intellectual nutjobs, I sympathize with historical radical politics in Europe in the postwar era, I know quite a bit about Marx and Sartre and Marcuse and Habermas and Gorz and, now, Herzen, but I find it really hard to stomach radical politics on the UC to the SC campus. The people who organize direct action here never seem to stop and consider the circumstances of the things they're protesting.

CASE IN POINT: how can you organize walk-outs and rallies around the theme of "stop the budget cuts"?! There isn't any money, you guys. This is not a case of a sinister right-wing conspiracy. For once, not even I think that Dick Cheney had something to do with this. They have to cut.

I know it's more complicated than that, that you can make a case for wanting more community participation in the question of what is to be cut, that the administration here has done some horrible, repugnant shit lately (see: family student housing), etc. Also, I will point out that B and I are, unlike these activists (who have stable grants and TAships), directly affected by the cuts. We honestly don't know if she'll have a job in a week.

That said, what I can't stand about the sound and the fury of all of this is that it's like the activist community here likes protesting, that they look for excuses to protest, that they're all entirely too cavalier and flippant about it. IMHO, if they were more selective about the issues they rallied against, they'd have a lot more credibility than they do hitting the panic button every week.

End rant.


first thing said...

kfr: I agree with much of what you said, particularly the last paragraph. What is truly annoying about it is that there seems to be no real plan for what happens after the walkouts/protests/demonstrations. As if yelling and screaming students (all 1% of the student body) is enough. Bleh.

However, while the cuts only affect the quality of education for undergrads, they impact graduate students more. Without departments like Community Studies, LALS, Fem Studies, and American Studies (which are all being cut to some degree; some more drastically than others right now, with more on the way next year, no doubt), graduate students have less of a pool from which to receive TAships. Professors with tenure (and those on tenure track) will be absorbed into other departments, and will most likely end up teaching the survey courses that were once taught by our soon to be departed cadre of lecturers.

The administration does not seem to want student participation in deciding how the cuts are managed, either. And for good reason, too. As you point out, the students (undergrads and grads, unfortunately) are much more willing to scream and shout than participate and collaborate. Given that history, it seems to me that even if students changed their tune and tried to actually negotiate more than they demonstrated, we still may not be able to recover from the credibility lapse.

Then again, there is a thoughtful campaign to save the lecturers in LALS, led by graduate students, and they are meeting with the administration on the 29th. I've lent my name to their letter. We'll see what happens; perhaps the flippant panic you speak of will continue to prevent the administration from ever listening to its students. I am hopeful, but not optimistic.

kungfuramone said...

My, what a thoughtful and thorough response! Bravo!

noncoupable said...

That was a spot-on post. I can only agree and remain terrified because all you have pointed out is true--our TAships exist, but many will disappear and many others will remain stagnant for years on end while rent prices get higher. We're all going to have to pitch in and start living within our means.

I guess I wonder what will eventually happen with those still earning six figure salaries? I'm not saying they don't work hard or don't deserve better pay, but I just don't know if it's possible to retain these people (often high ranking professors) in a crises like this without eventually asking them to take a pay cut too (rather than forcing them into retirement or letting other people go). I'm curious and kind of frightened to see what happens when the university proposes this, because I can't see any way around it?

Chica said...

I think that Angela Davis is making serious bucks, like 125,00 a year at least. look it up on the sacbee site. She should be a true ethnopoet activist and give it to us the real sub-altern.

Nick Mullins said...

"We will protest cuts to education by not going to class!"

Obviously, we haven't been doing our jobs as teachers if this is the logic our students come up with…