THREAT CONVERGENCE:
THE NEW ACADEMIC WORK, BULLYING, MOBBING AND FREEDOM

Stephen Petrina, Sandra Mathison & E. Wayne Ross

The convergence of the casualization, fragmentation, intensification, segmentation, shifting and creep of academic work with the post-9/11 gentrificaton of criticism and dissent is arguably one of the greatest threats to academic freedom since the Nazi elimination of the Jewish professoriate and critique in 1933, Bantu Education Act’s reinforcement of apartheid in South Africa in 1952, and McCarthyism in Canada and the US in the 1950s and 1960s. In the history of education, this would be quite the claim yet the evidence seems to speak for itself. Academic work has been fragmented into piecemeal modes and intensified as academics absorbed, through amalgamation, traditional clerical staff and counseling work. The balance of the academic workforce has been reduced and casualized or segmented to an “at whim,” insecure, unsalaried part-time labor pool, the 8-hour workday and 40-hour academic workweek collapsed to 60-80 hours, and the primary locus of academic work shifted off-campus as the workplace crept into the home and its communal establishments. Academic stress— manifested as burnout through amalgamation and creep of work, and as distress through bullying, mobbing and victimization— underwrites increases in leaves of absence. Non-tenure track faculty are hit particularly hard, indicating “contingency or the precariousness of their position” as relentless stressors.

Nowadays, it’s whimsical to reminisce about work-life balance and promises that the academic workforce will be renewed as boomers retire with baited expectations, or that the workweek and workplace for salaried full-timers could be contained within the seduction of flextime and telecommuting. In many ways, the flexible workplace is the plan for boomers by boomers with both nest eggs and limits on retirement age breaking. As currency values, retirement portfolios, and savings spiral downward while dependent children and grandchildren and inflation spiral upward, incentives to retire erode. Precariously unemployed, underemployed and part-time academics aside, boomers still in the academic system are trended to face the biggest losses. As economic incentives to retire decrease, incentives for intellectual immortality and legacy management flourish with the boomers’ political leanings moving toward the center. One can hardly blame them.

Enthusiasts of anything “flexible” (learning, space, time, work, etc.) and everything “tele” (commuting, conference, learning, phone, work, etc.), academics readily workshift with additional liability but no additional remuneration— instead is an unquestioned acceptance of the “overtime exemption”— while the employer saves about $6,500 per year per worker in the tradeoff as worksite or workspace shifts from campus to home. The academic workweek is now conservatively 60 hours with many PT and FT reporting persistent 70-80 hour weeks. Perhaps academic women can finally have it all after putting in the 120 hour workweek. One reason institutions now cope with many fewer FT hires is that academics are all too willing to do the work of two. As Gina Anderson found a decade ago, “with apparently unconscious irony, many academics reported that they particularly valued the flexibility of their working week, in terms of both time and space… in the same breath as reporting working weeks in the order of 60 hours.” For most academic workers, the cost of flexibility is effectively a salary cut as overheads of electricity, heat, water, communication and consumables are shifted to the home. Carbon footprint reductions are a net benefit and for a minority, the savings of commuting and parking offset the costs of this homework or housework. What is the nature or implications of this increasing domestication of academic work and displacement of the academic workplace? For academic couples with or without children, the dynamics of housecohabitry, househusbandry or housewifery necessarily change as the academic workplace shifts and labor creeps into the home. With temptations to procrastinate on deluges of academic deadlines, academic homes have never been cleaner and more organized. Nevermind the technocreep of remote monitoring. Over the long run, although some administrators cling to the digital punch card and time stamp with HivedeskWorksnaps or MySammy, “smashing the clock” in the name of flextime and telework is about the best thing that ever happened to academic capitalism.

This is not exactly a SWOT analysis, where Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are given due treatment. Rather, the focus is on this threat convergence as it resolves through historic displacements of the academic workplace and work. To what degree are the new policies for academic speech inscribed in academic work, regardless of where it’s done? As the academic workplace is increasingly displaced and distributed, are academic policies displaced and distributed as well? Observed at work, monitored at home and tracked in between—these are not so much choices as the cold reality of 21st century academic work.

Read More: Threat Convergence

New Workplace Issue #24

Academic Bullying & Mobbing

Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies. Please consider participating as author or reviewer. Thank you.

New Workplace Issue #25

Reforming Academic Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and Higher Education

Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies. Please consider participating as author or reviewer. Thank you.

CFP: Critical Theories for the 21st Century

by E Wayne Ross on June 5, 2015

Critical Education is proud to be the sponsor journal for Critical Theories in the 21st Century

4th annual:
critical theories in the twenty first century:
a conference of transformative pedagogies
november 6th & 7th

location:


West Chester University
700 South High St, West Chester, PA 19383

2015 THEME:
CRITICAL PEDAGOGY VS. CAPITAL:
REIGNITING THE CONVERSATION

Sponsored by:
Educational Foundations
The Department of Professional and Secondary Education
West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Closing Conference Keynote (November 7th):
Dave Hill

Call For Papers
The 4th Annual Conference on Critical Theories in the 21st Century aims to reinvigorate the field of critical pedagogy. The primary question driving this conference is: What is to be done to make critical pedagogy an effective educational weapon in the current struggle against capitalism and imperialism?

There is no doubt that we are at a critical juncture in history in terms of the limits of nature’s vital ecosystems, the physical limits of the progressive accumulation of capital, and the deepening reactionary ideology and scapegoating that exacerbates the oppression of youth of color. If critical pedagogy is to play a significant role in intervening in the current context, then a sharpened sense of purpose and direction is needed.

Some examples of possible topics include:

  • Marxism
  • Post-structuralism/post-modernism
  • Anarchism
  • Challenging the unholy trinity of state, capital, and religion
  • Class and the capital-labor dialectic
  • Identity and economics
  • Hierarchical and vertical forms of organization (i.e., vanguards versus networks)
  • Reform versus revolution
  • Socialism, communism, & democracy
  • Affect theory and the new materialisms
  • The knowledge economy, post-Fordism, and “cognitive capitalism”
  • Critical geography

While this conference will include important presentations and debates in critical pedagogy, it will not be limited to this focus. In other words, as critical theory becomes more inclusive, global, and all encompassing, this conference welcomes more than just academics as important contributors. That is, we recognize students and youth groups as possessing authentic voices based on their unique relationship to capitalism and will therefore be open to them as presenters and discussion leaders.

While this conference will include important presentations and challenging discussions based in critical pedagogy, it will not be limited to this focus. In other words, as critical theory becomes more inclusive, global, and all encompassing, this conference welcomes more than just academics as important contributors.

Please submit abstract proposals (500-1000 words) to:
Curry Malott (cmalott@wcupa.edu)

Proposal due date: September 27th, 2015

UBC faculty members, one hour left to vote on the Referendum for

 Fossil Fuel Divestment at the University of British Columbia: 

A Responsible Investment Proposal 

Go to UBC Faculty Vote (poll closes at 12:30 today, 8 February 2015)

Shirley Willihnganz, the University of Louisville provost who hired “notorious ed school dean” Robert Felner has stepped down from her $342,694 a year position and will return to the faculty after a sabbatical.

Willihnganz told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the “Felner episode” was the biggest regret of her 13 years as a top administrator at U of L.

Willihnganz hired Felner as dean of the U of L College of Education and Human Development in 2003. Felner’s deanship has been described by some as a “reign of terror” because of his abusive treatment of staff, faculty, students and alumni.

Despite dozens of grievances filed against Felner and a faculty vote of no-confidence, Willihnganz and her boss, university president James Ramsey, were dismissive of complaints and vigorously defended him. Ultimately, Willihnganz was “forced to apologize” to the faculty, saying “mostly what I think I want to say is people have been hurt and something very bad happened, and as provost I feel like I am ultimately responsible for that.”

In addition to his well documented abusive behavior, Felner was also engaged in criminal activity while working for the U of L and under Willihnganz’s supervision.

In 2010, Felner was sentenced 63 months in federal prison for a scheme that bilked $2.3 million of US Department of Education money from U of L and the University of Rhode Island.

On June 20, 2008, Federal investigators (Secret Service and US Postal Inspection Service) raided Felner’s office at the U of L College of Education and Human Development (and his new office at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, where he was in the process of taking over as campus president) to seize documents and a computer.

Read more about the Felner saga and his journey from “high performer” (Willihnganz’s description) to infamous ex-con here.

Courier-Journal reporter Andrew Wolfson asked me to comment on Willihnganz response to Felner. The statement below was quoted, in part, in the C-J story.

Of course it’s hard to disagree that the hiring of Robert Felner as dean of CEHD was, in hind sight, a disastrous decision by the U of L administration and Dr. Willihnganz in particular, but it was not entirely unpredictable. As chair of the largest department in CEHD at the time, I vigorously opposed Felner’s hire and called for the administration to resist the “old boy” network within the college that backed him. The provost’s office failed to do its due diligence in the hiring, despite a plethora of signs that Felner was not a good choice for the university. At the time, I was aware that other universities had considered Felner for deanships, but excluded him based upon thorough investigations of his career. The fact that President Ramsey and Dr. Willihnganz remained in office after defending Felner’s abusive leadership style, and ultimately criminal behavior, says much about the lack of accountability for decision making at the U of L. The damage done to the university’s reputation has been significant and is not merely the result of Felner’s felonious activities and generally abusive treatment of staff and faculty, but can also be laid in some measure at the feet of Dr. Willihnganz and President Ramsey.

The Courier-Journal reports modest positive accomplishments during on Willihnganz’s years a provost, including increased graduate rates and slight improvements in the U of L’s standing in university reputational rankings.

But, these accomplishments pale in comparison to the Felner episode and a long series shameful debacles that have tarnished the reputation of Kentucky’s second largest research university. The C-J reports that,

Under [Willihnganz’s] watch … university employees have stole, misspent or mishandled at least $7.6 million in schemes at the health science campus, the law school, the business school and the athletic department’s ticket office.

Willihnganz also was criticized for approving about $1 million in buyouts for former high-ranking employees, some of which included agreements not to disparage the university or its leaders.

Academic Fraud?
As the chief academic officer of the U of L, Willihnganz allowed the university to bestow a PhD degree on one of Felner’s associates, John Deasy, after enrolling in the CEHD doctoral program for a total of four months and apparently never actually taking any courses.

As reported in the education newspaper Substance,

John Deasy earned his PhD directly under Felner, in a period of four months, earning nine UL credit hours.

Prior to coming to UL, Deasy had awarded Felner’s research company, the National Center on Public Education and Social Policy, a $375,000 grant from the Santa Monica district where Deasy was head.

Before he came to UL, Felner had been dean at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Education from 1996-2003. Deasy studied there in the same period, while Deasy was also a Rhode Island school superintendent.

According to a highly placed source, formerly at UL, Deasy’s dissertation’s title page carries the date, “May, 2003,” while it is signed off, “April 9, 2004.” He entered the program in January, 2004.

A UL investigation of the Deasy PhD did not condemn the practice. James Ramsey, UL president, who had turned a blind eye to Felner’s notorious corruption (the faculty gave Felner a “no confidence vote” in 2006, but he served at least two more years at UL with Ramsey’s full support), gave his nod to the “blue ribbon” investigation.

Deasy is apparently cut from the same cloth as his mentor, having recently resigned as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, under a cloud of allegations regarding ethics violations in relation to a $1 billion contract to supply iPads to LAUSD students.

A federal grand jury is currently investigating Deasy’s iPad scheme, which involved Apple and Pearson, the latter one of the world’s largest education publishers.

Many in LA were quite pleased by Deasy’s resignation as district boss.

In the end, it can be argued that the mistakes made by the U of L administration in hiring and protecting Felner, allowed Deasy to obtain a questionable PhD, which surely helped him land the high-paying job as superintendent of the second largest school district in the United States.

As LAUSD’s “Deasy episode” unfolds in a federal jury investigation, it could be that Willihnganz’s legacy will include the “graduation” of two federal convicts from the U of L College of Education and Human Development.

Adult Basic Education is a basic right

by E Wayne Ross on January 28, 2015

Adult Basic Education is a Basic Right is a collaboratively authored by researchers and educators in the adult education field in British Columbia. Our aim to gather and share information about how ABE tuition cuts and adult education policy in BC effects people, programs, depending inequity and socio-economic participation.

Read Lynn Horvat’s paper: “Re-Framing the Conversation: Respecting Adult Basic Education in British Columbia”

From The Tyee:

Faculty Take Strike Vote at University of Northern British Columbia
Salaries a sticking point in pricey northern city.

By Katie Hyslop

The University of Northern British Columbia’s faculty association made history Jan. 15 when it became the first faculty union at a B.C. research university to take a strike vote. The vote passed with 84.8 per cent in favour of a strike, giving faculty members 90 days to take strike action.

The university, located in Prince George, has been bargaining with the faculty association for eight months, the last three with help from British Columbia Labour Board-appointed mediator Trevor Sones.

About 70 per cent of bargaining issues at UNBC have been settled, but faculty association president Jacqueline Holler says a major impasse is faculty salaries, which are as much as 24 per cent lower than salaries at similar-sized Canadian universities.

“What the employer has offered in terms of compensation does absolutely nothing to address the situation,” said Holler. Neither she nor UNBC would disclose specifics of offers on the bargaining table.

Holler said another reason faculty deserves higher pay is the university’s frequent ranking by Maclean’s magazine as one of the top three primarily undergraduate universities in Canada.

But UNBC says there are a number of factors affecting salary negotiations: Government requirements for wages to stay within fixed financial parametres; an overall decline in enrollment; an increase in the number of B.C. universities; and increased government support for trades training.

“I’m not citing those [factors] as the most important, only to suggest that there’s a number of factors that are all at play,” said Rob van Adrichem, UNBC’s vice president of external communications. “And it all affects this situation.”

Unionized last April

The vote comes after UNBC’s faculty association, representing close to 500 full and part-time instructors, became a union last April. The faculty associations at Simon Fraser University and University of Victoria unionized around the same time.

There are six research universities in British Columbia. They include UNBC, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, Thompson Rivers University, Royal Roads University, and the University of British Columbia.

The faculty association at the University of British Columbia became the first B.C. research university to unionize in the 1980s. In exchange for the university’s support the union gave up their right to strike. Almost 20 years later Royal Roads University’s faculty association officially became a union. Faculty at Thompson Rivers University is also unionized.

With the exception of Alberta, where law prevents university faculty associations from becoming unions, there are only four non-unionized public university faculty associations in Canada. They are at McGill, Waterloo, University of Toronto, and McMaster.

Salary disputes were the common denominator between Simon Fraser, University of Victoria, and UNBC faculty associations’ decision to unionize, says Michael Conlon, executive director of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia, an umbrella organization for research university faculty associations.

“I think it’s fair to say that salary increases at all the research universities in B.C. have not kept up” with the rest of Canada, Conlon said.

Attracting highly educated academics is a good reason to increase salaries, says Conlon, adding competition for “internationally renowned-faculty” is stiff both nationally and internationally.

“As B.C.’s pay scale falls farther and farther behind, I think it will be a challenge to recruit and retain the best researchers, the best teachers, and the best faculty,” he said. “I think that’s a challenge for the entire province in ensuring we’ve got a competitive and excellent system of post-secondary education.”

The faculty’s previous contract expired last June, four months after arbitrator Vince Ready released a final decision on a 2012-2014 contract, which included two retroactive pay raises of 2.5 per cent.

Ready agreed with the faculty association that salaries were low compared to other similar-sized universities, and said UNBC did have the money to raise the pay of faculty members.

Bargaining continues this weekend

But while the wage increase helped, Holler says it didn’t fix UNBC’s “broken” salary structure and was negated by similar wage increases at other B.C. universities.

Holler said living in the north is more expensive than southern B.C., a factor not taken into account when deciding faculty wages.

“In most fields if you work in the north you actually get paid a little more because they understand that it’s hard to attract people,” she said.

The faculty association still hopes to reach an agreement through bargaining, and has yet to meet to discuss strike options. UNBC undergraduate classes end April 17, two days after the strike deadline.

UNBC’s van Adrichem says the strike vote itself doesn’t have an impact on the bargaining process. “The university has been and is very keen to negotiate an agreement,” he said.

Both sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table on Jan. 30 until Feb. 1. [Tyee]

We should have said #jesuischarlie before

by Stephen Petrina on January 8, 2015

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Emma-Kate Symons, Quartz, January 7, 2014– The world is rallying around satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the French people today, after masked assassins – uttering the prayer “God is Great” and invoking vengeance for the prophet Mohammed – massacred 12 in central Paris.

But the global solidarity with the heroic cartoonists, writers and editors of this struggling weekly publication, targeted and murdered by terrorists during their weekly news conference, and victims of a fire-bomb attack on their office and years of death threats from Islamists, comes far too late.

Charlie Hebdo, which has published on and off since 1969, is proudly anti-organised religion and congenitally politically incorrect.

On a shoestring budget it has been fighting the good fight for freedom of thought and expression and a secular public space for years when many were ambivalent.

For its courage it has run into frequent trouble with local and international Islamofascists, having been forced to move its headquarters several times following threats and a fire bombing, notably after it published an edition in 2011 called “Charia Hebdo”.

Its editors had also annoyed and irritated political leaders in its native France, in Britain, and the United States.

When it bravely republished the infamous Danish cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed in 2006, even as fundamentalist leaders incited demonstrators to violence around the world, it earned a notorious rebuke from president Jacques Chirac who condemned its “overt provocation“.

As I reported from Paris at the time, then Charlie Hebdo publisher Philippe Val hit back at Chirac, saying he was “shocked” the French head of state would accuse the magazine of inflaming passions.

It is not a provocation. The provocation began well before – the fire was sparked on September 11 in New York, and in the attacks on London and on Madrid.

When there were the attacks on Madrid, on London, did we see the Arab street demonstrating because some assassins had committed horrible crimes in the name of Mohammed? We cannot leave it to religious groups to dictate the laws of freedom of expression.

Some in the Bush administration, wary of violence across the Islamic world, joined in the chorus calling for limits on press freedom. The British foreign secretary Jack Straw deplored newspapers’ “insensitivity and lack of respect”. The elite media in these two countries was also far from unanimous in its support.

Even in Paris over the past week, leading figures in the French fourth estate have been condemning the novelist Michel Houellebecq for allegedly bringing extreme right wing ideas into literature with the publication of his incendiary novel Submission.

The book depicts a France in 2022 governed by an Islamist political party. But Houllebecq is now part of this drama having been featured on the cover of this week’s edition of Charlie Hebdo. So what do editors like Laurent Joffrin at Libération newspaper now have to say? Should the novelist, like the editorial staff at Charlie Hebdo, have held their tongues and their pens?

Horribly, the scene at Charlie Hebdo is worthy of an excerpt from a novel by Houllebecq, and eerily echoes his reading of the Koran: “The obvious conclusion is that the jihadists are bad Muslims … an honest reading will conclude that a holy war of aggression is not generally sanctioned, prayer alone is valid.”

But this is not fiction and it is too easy to dismiss the role of religion and, yes, jihadi prayer in this horror.

France has Europe’s largest Muslim population, rising support for the anti-Islam extreme right, a growing problem with homegrown terrorism, fuelled by hundreds who have fought alongside Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Syria and elsewhere, and also the strongest commitment to the secular separation of church and state of almost any Western democracy.

It has a huge job on its hands trying to manage all its internal conflicts, and the sheer shock and fury this attack has created. This is a tipping point akin to the violence that followed the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses in 1988.

Beyond the immediate political fallout, the “greatest” to emerge from this crime expressly motivated by religious fanaticism are not God, the “avenged” prophet, or Islamist extremism – even if the death cult we associate with IS and Al Qaeda has come to the heart of the city of lights, and the Enlightenment, for centuries a refuge for intellectuals, writers, and artists.

Despite the murderers’ prayers invoking God and Allah, the heroes in this horror are the creative minds of this noble publication. Atheistic agitators, they fought literally to the death for freedom of thought and expression, the liberty to offend, and the right to be iconoclasts.

Their fidelity to the fundamental values of democracy, even as many around the world and in France found their editorial line too “provocative” or “offensive”, will long endure after these killers are brought to justice.

They died as they lived: standing up for their principles, the principles the French first fought for in the 1789 Revolution. Their only “weapons” were their illustrating pens and their words.

The martyred editor-in-chief and beloved illustrator “Charb” said it best in 2012, after years of attacks against his magazine:

I am not afraid of reprisals. I don’t have kids, I don’t have a wife, I don’t have a car, I don’t have credit. This may sound a bit pompous but I would prefer to die standing than to live on my knees.

Read More: Quartz

#jesuischarlie

by Stephen Petrina on January 7, 2015

Je suis charlie

#Nous sommes tous Charlie #charliehebdo

by Stephen Petrina on January 7, 2015

Nous

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Jennifer Gosnell, DalGazette, January 6, 2014–“Hey hey, ho ho, misogyny has go to go,” roared a crowd of about 200 people gathered at a rally yesterday afternoon outside Dalhousie’s Henry Hicks Building.

The rally targeted Dalhousie administration’s reaction to a misogynistic Facebook group made up of male dentistry students.

The rally came right after the announcement that Dalhousie University has suspended the clinical privileges of thirteen men in their fourth year of Dal’s Doctor of Dental Surgery program.

These men were suspended as Dalhousie’s ongoing response to complaints against the men’s posts in a Facebook group called the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen where some of them posted comments about female classmates that included discussions of sexual violence.

The protestors rallied together against a lack of action on Dalhousie’s part and a lack of justice on the part of victims of the posts and survivors of sexual assault.

Jennifer Nowoselski, Dalhousie Student Union Vice President (Internal), spoke of her experiences witnessing harassment on campus.

“I cannot tell you how many students across various faculties come to the Union with complaints of discrimination on a regular basis,” said Nowoselski. “I am enraged.”

“No options to address sexist comments? No options to address sexual harassment? No options to address sexist treatment of women students? Out of justified fear, individuals cannot demand action to make them feel safe on this campus. There is no safe internal process available to our members,” Nowoselski said.

She turned her questions to the Henry Hicks building itself, which hosts university president Richard Florizone’s office.

“Through a media storm, voiced concerns through students and community members, a community-organized rally, petitions, a formal complaint from faculty, threats of losing funding, concern from the government, and with the entire country watching, you created a task force?” Nowoselski asked.

Board members of South House, a student-funded sexual and gender resource centre in Halifax, spoke at the rally. They voiced issues of concern about underfunding for their volunteer-driven services that are often turned to for support by people who have experienced sexual violence.

Various survivors of sexual violence took to the megaphone to discuss the impact of their experiences.

One survivor said she was sexually assaulted by her dentist.

Others shared stories of going to Dalhousie’s offices to report their abuse and being met with blame or disbelief.

Read More: DalGazette

CTV, January 5, 2015–Four Dalhousie professors have gone public with a formal complaint they submitted to the university last month, which called for male dentistry students linked to a sexually explicit Facebook discussion to be suspended before classes resume on Monday.

One of the professors, Francoise Baylis, said they decided to go public because they haven’t yet been assured that the complaint has been properly submitted and whether it will be addressed.

“Students have to go back to school tomorrow morning, and in our view, the university has an obligation to provide all students with a safe and supportive learning environment,” Baylis, who teaches at Dalhousie’s medical school, told CTV Atlantic.

“Our view is that it’s important to have at least addressed the complaint prior to the students coming back.”

The formal complaint from Dec. 21 calls for the university to hand out suspensions to all fourth-year students who were allegedly involved in offensive posts discussing female students in the Faculty of Dentistry. The complaint is co-signed by Baylis and fellow Dalhousie professors Jocelyn Downie, Brian Noble and Jacqueline Warwick.

“The purpose of the Complaint was to trigger an interim suspension prior to the start of classes on Monday, January 5, 2015,” the professors said in a statement emailed to CTVNews.ca on Sunday.

The complaint cites a number of posts allegedly made by fourth-year students in the Facebook group called “Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen.”

One poster reportedly joked about using chloroform to render a woman unconscious. Another asked members which female students they would like to have “hate sex” with. A third post showed a photo of a woman in a bikini with the caption: “bang until stress is relieved or unconscious (girl).”

The formal complaint matches these allegations up to violations under the school’s Code of Student Conduct. It says offending students should be suspended because they “pose a threat of disruption or interference with the operations of the University and the activities of its members.”

Baylis said the formal process was engaged because some of the affected female students either did not consent to, or were not approached about the informal “restorative justice” approach the university decided to take.

On Dec. 17, university president Richard Florizone said administrators were looking into informal complaints by women who were subjects of the offensive posts. He also left the door open to a formal complaint process if the affected women chose to pursue it.

“I ask for our communities to give our students and university administrators the time to complete their work through the restorative justice process and forge meaningful, responsible outcomes,” Florizone said in a statement.

“Our overall response must also address cultures of sexism, misogyny and sexualized violence,” he added.

Baylis said the offensive Facebook posts require both an individual and a “systemic” response.

“All of us believe that we’re at a very unique cultural moment in time where we’re actually able to name the problem publicly, to call this misogyny, to talk about gendered violence,” she said.

Read more: CTV

Read the Complaint: 

Statement from faculty members who brought a complaint under Dalhousie University’s Code of

Student Conduct re: the “Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen”

We are at a distinct cultural moment in which real change with respect to misogyny and gendered violence is possible.

Events involving the “Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen” create a complex situation demanding thoughtful, sensitive responses from a variety of perspectives using a variety of procedural tools.

We ground our engagement with this situation in commitments to:

  • acknowledging that the problem of misogyny and gendered violence exists on Dalhousie campuses and campuses across the country;
  • doing the work required to make our campuses safe and supportive learning environments for all members of our community and with particular concern for women and members of other vulnerable groups;
  • ensuring due process;
  • pursuing an integrated approach involving both systemic and specific responses.

President Florizone has committed to responding to the specific incident within the Faculty of Dentistry and to seeking strategies for meaningful long-term change. Our formal Complaint is an effort to contribute constructively to the comprehensive response required.

Photo by Stephen Puddicombe/CBC

Photo by Stephen Puddicombe/CBC

CBC News, January 6, 2015–A group of fourth-year female students from Dalhousie University’s faculty of dentistry have written an open letter to the president of the school, saying they feel pressured to accept the restorative justice process to resolve the Facebook scandal that has rocked the school.

In a two-page letter addressed to Richard Florizone and disclosed to CBC News on Tuesday, the four unnamed students say they are not willing to accept the university’s response to the Facebook page called the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen.

The page was created by some male students in the fourth-year dentistry class and contained misogynistic and sexually explicit posts, including a poll about having “hate” sex with female students and comments about drugging women.

The women say in their letter that they “do not wish for the sexual harassment and discrimination perpetrated by members of our class to be dealt with through this restorative justice process.”

“The university is pressuring us into this process, silencing our views, isolating us from our peers, and discouraging us from choosing to proceed formally,” says the letter.

“This has perpetuated our experience of discrimination. This approach falls far below what we expected from you, and what we believe we deserve.”

The women also say they are concerned about their future at the school.

‘We have serious concerns’

“Telling us that we can either participate in restorative justice or file a formal complaint is presenting us with a false choice. We have serious concerns about the impact of filing formal complaints on our chances of academic success at the faculty of dentistry, and believe that doing so would jeopardize our futures,” they wrote.

“The reason we have not filed formal complaints is also the reason we have not signed our names to this letter.”

Read Letter: Open Letter to President Richard Florizone

 … We are writing this open letter to inform you that, after considering the information that was presented in that meeting, we do not wish for the sexual harassment and discrimination perpetrated by members of our class to be dealt with through this restorative justice process or under the Sexual Harassment Policy. We feel that the University is pressuring us into this process, silencing our views, isolating us from our peers, and discouraging us from choosing to proceed formally. This has perpetuated our experience of discrimination. This approach falls far below what we expected from you, and what we believe we deserve….

Read More: CBC

Lilia D. Monzó & Peter McLaren, Truthout, December 18, 2014– Racism is exacerbated by a capitalist production process that teaches us that some people have a God-given right to pursue their economic and social interests without regard for other people’s right to thrive, free of fear for their own survival. The antidote is red love.

The Slaughter-Bench of Race

It seems that it is an everlasting open hunting season in the United States and the kills are Black men. The senseless killing of unarmed Black young man Michael Brown by a White police officer and the grand jury’s decision to allow the officer to walk without facing a trial through a faltering prosecutorial process (that aims to defend when the target of indictment is a police officer) has brought Ferguson, Missouri, and other communities across the country to their feet in loud and incendiary protest.

Approximately 50 protesters on a 120-mile march from Ferguson to Jefferson City decrying the shooting death of Brown were met with counter-protesters all along the route. Especially stomach-churning was the reception given to the protesters in the sleepy hollow of Rosebud, where the caterwauling and public scouring was most intense as 200 residents screeched at the protesters to “go home and get jobs” along a route littered with 40-ounce beer bottles, watermelons, Confederate flags and fried chicken, and where at least one concerned citizen was wearing a makeshift white hood, redolent of the vile knights of the “Invisible Empire.”

While the corporate media has suggested that the violent response by some protesters – property damage and looting in some instances – diminishes the authentic call for “change” – i.e., a demilitarization of the police, improved police-community relations, urban job creation, increased sensitivity training regarding race among police force recruits – it is hard to ignore the storied observation by Frantz Fanon that violence is oftentimes the only possible response by communities that have lived through centuries of violence – slavery, joblessness, poverty, police profiling, the school-to-prison pipeline and a military-industrial complex that thrives upon the deaths and killing of Black and Brown young men.

In the wake of this blow to the Black community, we have seen a string of similar White police killings of unarmed Black men and an unwillingness to indict them. These include the killing of Eric Garner who was caught on video repeating the words, “I can’t breathe,” 11 times as a New York Police Department officer had him in a chokehold that has been banned by the NYPD for years; the killing of Rumain Brisbon in Phoenix, Arizona; the killing of a 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, who was holding a toy gun in a park and shot within two seconds of police arriving on the scene; and the killing of Akai Gurley, a young man who was fatally shot by a rookie NYPD officer in a dark public housing stairwell in Brooklyn. With the growing confidence among White police officers that Black men are fair game for killing without consequences, how many more of our Black children’s lives will we lose?

In the cases of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Akai Gurley, the police did not make any effort to assist their dying victims. In the case of Gurley, the officers who shot him – in true “cover your ass fashion” – decided to text their union representative while ignoring calls from the police and medics. Six and a half minutes went by before they finally radioed for assistance. It wasn’t until a detective and FBI agent arrived at the scene of the Tamir Rice slaying that the victim received any first aid. In Eric Garner’s case, numerous police officers stared at his unconscious handcuffed body for seven crucial minutes instead of performing urgent CPR or frantically seeking professional medical assistance. In the case of Michael Brown, we know that his body lay lifeless on a Ferguson street for four hours before it was carted off to the local morgue. While some have attempted to justify police killings of Black men as a function of the job demand for quick decisions and their own survival instincts, this unconscionable and merciless failure to attempt to save these men’s lives, points to something much deeper.

Astonishingly, we are now hearing backlash against protesters that Black men must be suicidal since they are acting in ways that are surely to get them killed. It seems no matter what the circumstance, the narratives shift in order to maintain the sanctity of the White cop. The institutionalized and pretentious discourse of conservative talk show hosts now includes remarks to the effect of: “If Garner can say ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times, then he can breathe” (obviously these self-proclaimed “critics” don’t realize that being pinned down by police may prevent lungs from re-expanding, forcing out the functional reserve capacity of air while the expiratory reserve volume – which is not oxygenated and basically exists as carbon dioxide gas – still permits vocalization). This vicious insensitivity from the frenetic ranks of these racist prodigies have ripped away any cosmetic prostheses hiding the seething subterranean animus of the White population who have inherited a historical proclivity to blame Blacks for their own suffering and who continue to do so with an increasingly smug impunity.

Given the rancid history of racial violence in the United States, should we be aghast at the audacity of White police officers who continue to shoot first and show little restraint prior or remorse after, and at the imperviousness of prosecutors and grand juries that see only through the dominant lens, justifying the growing epidemic of Black killings by White cops as a “natural” reaction to fearing for their lives? Protesters are demanded to show restraint in a country that has shown no restraint in killing Black communities and other communities of color – physically, psychologically and economically. While we do not advocate for violence, we understand how centuries of pain and humiliation can result in a pent-up rage that eventually explodes.

More recently, African-Americans face the grim new reality of moving from the super-exploited sector of the working class to being even more marginalized as capitalists switched from drawing on Black labor in favor of Latino/a immigrant labor as a super-exploited workforce. As a result of increased structural marginalization, African-Americans are subject to what William Robinson describesas “heightened disenfranchisement, criminalization, a bogus ‘war on drugs,’ mass incarceration and police and state terror, seen by the system as necessary to control a superfluous and potentially rebellious population.”

Racism is not a natural phenomenon, but one that has been produced within each and every institution of our society. Racism is exacerbated through a capitalist production process that teaches us that some people have a God-given right to pursue their own economic and social interests with little regard for the right of every human being and other living organism to thrive in the world free of fear for their own survival and with dignity and freedom. Racism stems from a world that has lost its ability to recognize its social nature and absolute need to love one another. While we must work to make people safe today, we must also consider the long-term goal of anti-racist struggle, which in our view is one and the same as class struggle, such that a new world order, one free from class and founded on love, interdependence, social responsibility, equality and freedom can thrive.

Read More: Truthout

Public Engagement and the Politics of Evidence in an Age of Neoliberalism and Audit Culture

July 23-25, 2015

Faculty of Education, University of Regina

This symposium will examine accelerating trends in higher education: neoliberalism, the politics of evidence, and the audit culture. In an age in which value is often equated with accountancy, we will examine the place in the academy for public intellectualism, community-engagement, Indigenous epistemologies, and how the impact of our scholarship is, and ought to be, justly assessed. Invited presenters will provoke lively discussion, but going beyond discussion, and blurring the lines between presenter and audience member, participants will be invited to engage actively with other presenter/participants in attendance for the purpose of effecting changes at their home institutions. Opportunities will be available for reconsidering and strategizing academic issues such as faculty criteria documents, measurement rankings, traditional impact factors, and other academic matters affected by the politics of austerity, neoliberalism, and new management technologies. Action will also be encouraged through submissions to a special issue of in education (the University of Regina Faculty of Education’s journal), potentially collaborating on an edited book, TED-style dissemination videos, producing a list of recommendations, developing examples of inclusive faculty criteria documents, possibly developing a community impact factor as an alternative to journal impact factor metrics, and further actions as collectively discussed at the symposium.

Questions to be explored include:

  • What counts as scholarship and why?
  • How do we achieve accountability in an age of accountancy?
  • How do we measure research impact, (i.e., journal impact factor vs community and policy impact)?
  • Impact for whom?
  • Who and how do we determine whose evidence and what research is legitimate?
  • What can be done? How do we effect change to university practices?

Call for Papers
Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor

Special Issue of Workplace
Guest Editors: Karen Gregory & Joss Winn

Articles in Workplace have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory: individual autonomy is decreasing, contractual conditions are worsening, individual mental health issues are rising, and academic work is being intensified. Despite our theoretical advances and concerted practical efforts to resist these conditions, the gains of the 20th century labor movement are diminishing and the history of the university appears to be on a determinate course. To date, this course is often spoken of in the language of “crisis.”

While crisis may indeed point us toward the contemporary social experience of work and study within the university, we suggest that there is one response to the transformation of the university that has yet to be adequately explored: A thoroughgoing and reflexive critique of academic labor and its ensuing forms of value. By this, we mean a negative critique of academic labor and its role in the political economy of capitalism; one which focuses on understanding the basic character of ‘labor’ in capitalism as a historically specific social form. Beyond the framework of crisis, what productive, definite social relations are actively resituating the university and its labor within the demands, proliferations, and contradictions of capital?

We aim to produce a negative critique of academic labor that not only makes transparent these social relations, but repositions academic labor within a new conversation of possibility.

We are calling for papers that acknowledge the foundational work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels for labor theory and engage closely and critically with the critique of political economy. Marx regarded his discovery of the dual character of labor in capitalism (i.e. concrete and abstract) as one of his most important achievements and “the pivot on which a clear comprehension of political economy turns.” With this in mind, we seek contributions that employ Marx’s and Engels’ critical categories of labor, value, the commodity, capital, etc. in reflexive ways which illuminate the role and character of academic labor today and how its existing form might be, according to Marx, abolished, transcended and overcome (aufheben).

Contributions:

  1. A variety of forms and approaches, demonstrating a close engagement with Marx’s theory and method: Theoretical critiques, case studies, historical analyses, (auto-)ethnographies, essays, and narratives are all welcome. Contributors from all academic disciplines are encouraged.
  2. Any reasonable length will be considered. Where appropriate they should adopt a consistent style (e.g. Chicago, Harvard, MLA, APA).
  3. Will be Refereed.
  4. Contributions and questions should be sent to:

Joss Winn (jwinn@lincoln.ac.uk) and Karen Gregory (kgregory@ccny.cuny.edu)

#IdleNoMore social movements #ubc #occupyed

by Stephen Petrina on November 8, 2014

CBC News, October 24, 2014– Idle No More was one of the largest Indigenous mass movements in recent history, sparking hundreds of teach-ins, rallies and protests across the country. On Friday night in Saskatoon, a group of educators and grad students learned about how it all came together.

People involved in the movement addressed members of the Canadian History of Education Association. Lynn Lemisko with the Association says there’s a history of teach-ins, like Idle No More, being used as a resistance movement.

“It’s a powerful example in the way in which resistance can be done in a peaceful way through dancing and just gathering together and demonstrating,” Lemisko said.

Lemisko says mass social movements can be successful even if they don’t result in clear, measurable outcomes, such as legislative changes. She says they heighten awareness and help develop critical thinking. And she says educators are interested in how the Idle No More Movement changed the social and political landscape in Canada.

“Is this something that we can borrow and use in our own lives in our own ways that we want to support social justice resist and reconcile?” Lemisko asked. Lemisko says a similar effort could be hard to duplicate. She says some mass movements just happen because there are forces that come together at a particular moment in time for whatever reason.

Read More: CBC News

NEW MASTERS PROGRAM IN THE INSTITUTE FOR CRITICAL EDUCATION STUDIES
CRITICAL PEDAGOGY AND EDUCATION ACTIVISM
BEGINS JULY 2014

APPLY NOW!

The new UBC Masters Program in Critical Pedagogy and Education Activism (Curriculum Studies) has the goal of bringing about positive change in schools and education. This cohort addresses issues such as environmentalism, equity and social justice, and private versus public education funding debates and facilitates activism across curriculum and evaluation within the schools and critical analysis and activism in communities and the media. The cohort is organized around three core themes: solidarity, engagement, and critical analysis and research.

BCTFRallySignJune2014

The new UBC M.Ed. in Critical Pedagogy and Education Activism (Curriculum Studies) is a cohort program in which participants attend courses together in a central location. It supports participation in face-to-face, hybrid (blended), and online activism and learning.

A Perfect Opportunity

  • Earn your Master’s degree in 2 years (part-time)
  • Enjoy the benefits of collaborative study and coalition building
  • Channel your activism inside and outside school (K-12)
  • Sharpen your knowledge of critical practices and skill with media and technology

#Workplace preprints available #criticaled #highered

by Stephen Petrina on October 31, 2014

WORKPLACE: A JOURNAL FOR ACADEMIC LABOR
PREPRINTS AVAILABLE