Faculty Association of UBC, March 20,  2014– At its meeting on March 14 & 15, the CAUT Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee considered UBC’s Policy 81 and all of the associated documentation.  Following that consideration, the committee voted unanimously to recommend to the CAUT Executive that it bring a motion to CAUT Council in early May to begin the censure process of the UBC Administration. If they approve the recommendation, the Executive would bring a motion to Council that “CAUT will censure the UBC Administration at its November 2014 Council meeting unless the University ends the policy that the University may use, revise, and allow other UBC Instructors to use and revise a faculty member’s teaching materials, unless the faculty member specifically prohibits such use.”
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Diana Mehta, CTV News, March 2, 2014– A student union leader at the University of Ottawa says an online conversation among five fellow students in which she was the target of sexually graphic banter shows that “rape culture” is all too prevalent on Canadian campuses.

Anne-Marie Roy, 24, is going public despite being threatened with legal action by four of the male students, who say the Facebook conversation was private.

Nonetheless, Roy — who received a copy of the conversation via an anonymous email — said she felt compelled to speak out, especially since the five individuals were in positions of leadership on campus.

“They should be held accountable for those actions. Actions have consequences and I think that this is certainly something that can’t go unnoticed,” said Roy, who heads the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.

“Rape culture is very present on our campuses…I think that it’s very shameful to see that there are student leaders who are perpetuating that within their own circles.”

The incident was first reported in the Fulcrum, the university’s English language student newspaper.

Roy said she was sent screenshots of the Facebook conversation on Feb. 10, while student elections were being held on campus.

The online conversation — a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press — included references to sexual activities some of the five individuals wrote they would like to engage in with Roy, including oral and anal sex, as well as suggestions that she suffered from sexually transmitted diseases.

“Someone punish her with their shaft,” wrote one of the individuals at one point. “I do believe that with my reputation I would destroy her,” wrote another.

After confronting a member of the conversation in person, Roy said she received an emailed apology from all five men which emphasized that their comments were never actual threats against her.

“While it doesn’t change the inadmissible nature of our comments, we wish to assure you we meant you no harm,” the apology, written in French, read.

“We realize the content of our conversation between friends promotes values that have no place in our society and our campus, on top of being unacceptably coarse.”

But Roy felt the apology wasn’t enough.

“I was very torn up by the conversation,” she said. “I also think there needs to be a level of responsibility taken for the words that were said in that conversation.”

Roy decided she would bring it up at a Feb. 23 meeting of the student federation’s Board of Administration, which oversees the affairs of the student union.

Read more: CTV News 


Noam Chomsky, AlterNet, Reader Supported News, March 1, 2014– The following is an edited transcript of remarks given by Noam Chomsky via Skype on 4 February 2014 to a gathering of members and allies of the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh, PA. The transcript was prepared by Robin J. Sowards and edited by Prof. Chomsky.

How America’s Great University System Is Getting Destroyed

On hiring faculty off the tenure track

That’s part of the business model. It’s the same as hiring temps in industry or what they call “associates” at Wal-Mart, employees that aren’t owed benefits. It’s a part of a corporate business model designed to reduce labor costs and to increase labor servility. When universities become corporatized, as has been happening quite systematically over the last generation as part of the general neoliberal assault on the population, their business model means that what matters is the bottom line. The effective owners are the trustees (or the legislature, in the case of state universities), and they want to keep costs down and make sure that labor is docile and obedient. The way to do that is, essentially, temps. Just as the hiring of temps has gone way up in the neoliberal period, you’re getting the same phenomenon in the universities. The idea is to divide society into two groups. One group is sometimes called the “plutonomy” (a term used by Citibank when they were advising their investors on where to invest their funds), the top sector of wealth, globally but concentrated mostly in places like the United States. The other group, the rest of the population, is a “precariat,” living a precarious existence.

This idea is sometimes made quite overt. So when Alan Greenspan was testifying before Congress in 1997 on the marvels of the economy he was running, he said straight out that one of the bases for its economic success was imposing what he called “greater worker insecurity.” If workers are more insecure, that’s very “healthy” for the society, because if workers are insecure they won’t ask for wages, they won’t go on strike, they won’t call for benefits; they’ll serve the masters gladly and passively. And that’s optimal for corporations’ economic health. At the time, everyone regarded Greenspan’s comment as very reasonable, judging by the lack of reaction and the great acclaim he enjoyed. Well, transfer that to the universities: how do you ensure “greater worker insecurity”? Crucially, by not guaranteeing employment, by keeping people hanging on a limb than can be sawed off at any time, so that they’d better shut up, take tiny salaries, and do their work; and if they get the gift of being allowed to serve under miserable conditions for another year, they should welcome it and not ask for any more. That’s the way you keep societies efficient and healthy from the point of view of the corporations. And as universities move towards a corporate business model, precarity is exactly what is being imposed. And we’ll see more and more of it.

That’s one aspect, but there are other aspects which are also quite familiar from private industry, namely a large increase in layers of administration and bureaucracy. If you have to control people, you have to have an administrative force that does it. So in US industry even more than elsewhere, there’s layer after layer of management-a kind of economic waste, but useful for control and domination. And the same is true in universities. In the past 30 or 40 years, there’s been a very sharp increase in the proportion of administrators to faculty and students; faculty and students levels have stayed fairly level relative to one another, but the proportion of administrators have gone way up. There’s a very good book on it by a well-known sociologist, Benjamin Ginsberg, called The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters (Oxford University Press, 2011), which describes in detail the business style of massive administration and levels of administration-and of course, very highly-paid administrators. This includes professional administrators like deans, for example, who used to be faculty members who took off for a couple of years to serve in an administrative capacity and then go back to the faculty; now they’re mostly professionals, who then have to hire sub-deans, and secretaries, and so on and so forth, a whole proliferation of structure that goes along with administrators. All of that is another aspect of the business model.

But using cheap labor-and vulnerable labor-is a business practice that goes as far back as you can trace private enterprise, and unions emerged in response. In the universities, cheap, vulnerable labor means adjuncts and graduate students. Graduate students are even more vulnerable, for obvious reasons. The idea is to transfer instruction to precarious workers, which improves discipline and control but also enables the transfer of funds to other purposes apart from education. The costs, of course, are borne by the students and by the people who are being drawn into these vulnerable occupations. But it’s a standard feature of a business-run society to transfer costs to the people. In fact, economists tacitly cooperate in this. So, for example, suppose you find a mistake in your checking account and you call the bank to try to fix it. Well, you know what happens. You call them up, and you get a recorded message saying “We love you, here’s a menu.” Maybe the menu has what you’re looking for, maybe it doesn’t. If you happen to find the right option, you listen to some music, and every once and a while a voice comes in and says “Please stand by, we really appreciate your business,” and so on. Finally, after some period of time, you may get a human being, who you can ask a short question to. That’s what economists call “efficiency.” By economic measures, that system reduces labor costs to the bank; of course it imposes costs on you, and those costs are multiplied by the number of users, which can be enormous-but that’s not counted as a cost in economic calculation. And if you look over the way the society works, you find this everywhere. So the university imposes costs on students and on faculty who are not only untenured but are maintained on a path that guarantees that they will have no security. All of this is perfectly natural within corporate business models. It’s harmful to education, but education is not their goal.

In fact, if you look back farther, it goes even deeper than that. If you go back to the early 1970s when a lot of this began, there was a lot of concern pretty much across the political spectrum over the activism of the 1960s; it’s commonly called “the time of troubles.” It was a “time of troubles” because the country was getting civilized, and that’s dangerous. People were becoming politically engaged and were trying to gain rights for groups that are called “special interests,” like women, working people, farmers, the young, the old, and so on. That led to a serious backlash, which was pretty overt. At the liberal end of the spectrum, there’s a book called The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission, Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, Joji Watanuki (New York University Press, 1975), produced by the Trilateral Commission, an organization of liberal internationalists. The Carter administration was drawn almost entirely from their ranks. They were concerned with what they called “the crisis of democracy,” namely that there’s too much democracy. In the 1960s there were pressures from the population, these “special interests,” to try to gain rights within the political arena, and that put too much pressure on the state-you can’t do that. There was one special interest that they left out, namely the corporate sector, because its interests are the “national interest”; the corporate sector is supposed to control the state, so we don’t talk about them. But the “special interests” were causing problems and they said “we have to have more moderation in democracy,” the public has to go back to being passive and apathetic. And they were particularly concerned with schools and universities, which they said were not properly doing their job of “indoctrinating the young.” You can see from student activism (the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, the feminist movement, the environmental movements) that the young are just not being indoctrinated properly.

Well how do you indoctrinate the young? There are a number of ways. One way is to burden them with hopelessly heavy tuition debt. Debt is a trap, especially student debt, which is enormous, far larger than credit card debt. It’s a trap for the rest of your life because the laws are designed so that you can’t get out of it. If a business, say, gets in too much debt it can declare bankruptcy, but individuals can almost never be relieved of student debt through bankruptcy. They can even garnish social security if you default. That’s a disciplinary technique. I don’t say that it was consciously introduced for the purpose, but it certainly has that effect. And it’s hard to argue that there’s any economic basis for it. Just take a look around the world: higher education is mostly free. In the countries with the highest education standards, let’s say Finland, which is at the top all the time, higher education is free. And in a rich, successful capitalist country like Germany, it’s free. In Mexico, a poor country, which has pretty decent education standards, considering the economic difficulties they face, it’s free. In fact, look at the United States: if you go back to the 1940s and 50s, higher education was pretty close to free. The GI Bill gave free education to vast numbers of people who would never have been able to go to college. It was very good for them and it was very good for the economy and the society; it was part of the reason for the high economic growth rate. Even in private colleges, education was pretty close to free. Take me: I went to college in 1945 at an Ivy League university, University of Pennsylvania, and tuition was $100. That would be maybe $800 in today’s dollars. And it was very easy to get a scholarship, so you could live at home, work, and go to school and it didn’t cost you anything. Now it’s outrageous. I have grandchildren in college, who have to pay for their tuition and work and it’s almost impossible. For the students that is a disciplinary technique.

And another technique of indoctrination is to cut back faculty-student contact: large classes, temporary teachers who are overburdened, who can barely survive on an adjunct salary. And since you don’t have any job security you can’t build up a career, you can’t move on and get more. These are all techniques of discipline, indoctrination, and control. And it’s very similar to what you’d expect in a factory, where factory workers have to be disciplined, to be obedient; they’re not supposed to play a role in, say, organizing production or determining how the workplace functions-that’s the job of management. This is now carried over to the universities. And I think it shouldn’t surprise anyone who has any experience in private enterprise, in industry; that’s the way they work.

On how higher education ought to be

First of all, we should put aside any idea that there was once a “golden age.” Things were different and in some ways better in the past, but far from perfect. The traditional universities were, for example, extremely hierarchical, with very little democratic participation in decision-making. One part of the activism of the 1960s was to try to democratize the universities, to bring in, say, student representatives to faculty committees, to bring in staff to participate. These efforts were carried forward under student initiatives, with some degree of success. Most universities now have some degree of student participation in faculty decisions. And I think those are the kinds of things we should be moving towards: a democratic institution, in which the people involved in the institution, whoever they may be (faculty, students, staff), participate in determining the nature of the institution and how it runs; and the same should go for a factory.

These are not radical ideas, I should say. They come straight out of classical liberalism. So if you read, for example, John Stuart Mill, a major figure in the classical liberal tradition, he took it for granted that workplaces ought to be managed and controlled by the people who work in them-that’s freedom and democracy (see, e.g., John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy, book 4, ch. 7). We see the same ideas in the United States. Let’s say you go back to the Knights of Labor; one of their stated aims was “To establish co-operative institutions such as will tend to supersede the wage-system, by the introduction of a co-operative industrial system” (“Founding Ceremony” for newly-organized Local Associations). Or take someone like, John Dewey, a mainstream 20th-century social philosopher, who called not only for education directed at creative independence in schools, but also worker control in industry, what he called “industrial democracy.” He says that as long as the crucial institutions of the society (like production, commerce, transportation, media) are not under democratic control, then “politics [will be] the shadow cast on society by big business” (John Dewey, “The Need for a New Party”[1931]). This idea is almost elementary, it has deep roots in American history and in classical liberalism, it should be second nature to working people, and it should apply the same way to universities. There are some decisions in a university where you don’t want to have [democratic transparency because] you have to preserve student privacy, say, and there are various kinds of sensitive issues, but on much of the normal activity of the university, there is no reason why direct participation can’t be not only legitimate but helpful. In my department, for example, for 40 years we’ve had student representatives helpfully participating in department meetings.

On “shared governance” and worker control

The university is probably the social institution in our society that comes closest to democratic worker control. Within a department, for example, it’s pretty normal for at least the tenured faculty to be able to determine a substantial amount of what their work is like: what they’re going to teach, when they’re going to teach, what the curriculum will be. And most of the decisions about the actual work that the faculty is doing are pretty much under tenured faculty control. Now of course there is a higher level of administrators that you can’t overrule or control. The faculty can recommend somebody for tenure, let’s say, and be turned down by the deans, or the president, or even the trustees or legislators. It doesn’t happen all that often, but it can happen and it does. And that’s always a part of the background structure, which, although it always existed, was much less of a problem in the days when the administration was drawn from the faculty and in principle recallable. Under representative systems, you have to have someone doing administrative work but they should be recallable at some point under the authority of the people they administer. That’s less and less true. There are more and more professional administrators, layer after layer of them, with more and more positions being taken remote from the faculty controls. I mentioned before The Fall of the Faculty by Benjamin Ginsberg, which goes into a lot of detail as to how this works in the several universities he looks at closely: Johns Hopkins, Cornell, and a couple of others.

Meanwhile, the faculty are increasingly reduced to a category of temporary workers who are assured a precarious existence with no path to the tenure track. I have personal acquaintances who are effectively permanent lecturers; they’re not given real faculty status; they have to apply every year so that they can get appointed again. These things shouldn’t be allowed to happen. And in the case of adjuncts, it’s been institutionalized: they’re not permitted to be a part of the decision-making apparatus, and they’re excluded from job security, which merely amplifies the problem. I think staff ought to also be integrated into decision-making, since they’re also a part of the university. So there’s plenty to do, but I think we can easily understand why these tendencies are developing. They are all part of imposing a business model on just about every aspect of life. That’s the neoliberal ideology that most of the world has been living under for 40 years. It’s very harmful to people, and there has been resistance to it. And it’s worth noticing that two parts of the world, at least, have pretty much escaped from it, namely East Asia, where they never really accepted it, and South America in the past 15 years.

On the alleged need for “flexibility”

“Flexibility” is a term that’s very familiar to workers in industry. Part of what’s called “labor reform” is to make labor more “flexible,” make it easier to hire and fire people. That’s, again, a way to ensure maximization of profit and control. “Flexibility” is supposed to be a good thing, like “greater worker insecurity.” Putting aside industry where the same is true, in universities there’s no justification. So take a case where there’s under-enrollment somewhere. That’s not a big problem. One of my daughters teaches at a university; she just called me the other night and told me that her teaching load is being shifted because one of the courses that was being offered was under-enrolled. Okay, the world didn’t to an end, they just shifted around the teaching arrangements-you teach a different course, or an extra section, or something like that. People don’t have to be thrown out or be insecure because of the variation in the number of students enrolling in courses. There are all sorts of ways of adjusting for that variation. The idea that labor should meet the conditions of “flexibility” is just another standard technique of control and domination. Why not say that administrators should be thrown out if there’s nothing for them to do that semester, or trustees-what do they have to be there for? The situation is the same with top management in industry: if labor has to be flexible, how about management? Most of them are pretty useless or even harmful anyway, so let’s get rid of them. And you can go on like this. Just to take the news from the last couple of days, take, say, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase bank: he just got a pretty substantial raise, almost double his salary, out of gratitude because he had saved the bank from criminal charges that would have sent the management to jail; he got away with only $20 billion in fines for criminal activities. Well I can imagine that getting rid of somebody like that might be helpful to the economy. But that’s not what people are talking about when they talk about “labor reform.” It’s the working people who have to suffer, and they have to suffer by insecurity, by not knowing where tomorrow’s piece of bread is going to come from, and therefore be disciplined and obedient and not raise questions or ask for their rights. That’s the way that tyrannical systems operate. And the business world is a tyrannical system. When it’s imposed on the universities, you find it reflects the same ideas. This shouldn’t be any secret.

On the purpose of education

These are debates that go back to the Enlightenment, when issues of higher education and mass education were really being raised, not just education for the clergy and aristocracy. And there were basically two models discussed in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were discussed with pretty evocative imagery. One image of education was that it should be like a vessel that is filled with, say, water. That’s what we call these days “teaching to test”: you pour water into the vessel and then the vessel returns the water. But it’s a pretty leaky vessel, as all of us who went through school experienced, since you could memorize something for an exam that you had no interest in to pass an exam and a week later you forgot what the course was about. The vessel model these days is called “no child left behind,” “teaching to test,” “race to top,” whatever the name may be, and similar things in universities. Enlightenment thinkers opposed that model.

The other model was described as laying out a string along which the student progresses in his or her own way under his or her own initiative, maybe moving the string, maybe deciding to go somewhere else, maybe raising questions. Laying out the string means imposing some degree of structure. So an educational program, whatever it may be, a course on physics or something, isn’t going to be just anything goes; it has a certain structure. But the goal of it is for the student to acquire the capacity to inquire, to create, to innovate, to challenge-that’s education. One world-famous physicist, in his freshman courses if he was asked “what are we going to cover this semester?”, his answer was “it doesn’t matter what we cover, it matters what you discover.” You have gain the capacity and the self-confidence for that matter to challenge and create and innovate, and that way you learn; that way you’ve internalized the material and you can go on. It’s not a matter of accumulating some fixed array of facts which then you can write down on a test and forget about tomorrow.

These are two quite distinct models of education. The Enlightenment ideal was the second one, and I think that’s the one that we ought to be striving towards. That’s what real education is, from kindergarten to graduate school. In fact there are programs of that kind for kindergarten, pretty good ones.

On the love of teaching

We certainly want people, both faculty and students, to be engaged in activity that’s satisfying, enjoyable, challenging, exciting-and I don’t really think that’s hard. Even young children are creative, inquisitive, they want to know things, they want to understand things, and unless that’s beaten out of your head it stays with you the rest of your life. If you have opportunities to pursue those commitments and concerns, it’s one of the most satisfying things in life. That’s true if you’re a research physicist, it’s true if you’re a carpenter; you’re trying to create something of value and deal with a difficult problem and solve it. I think that’s what makes work the kind of thing you want to do; you do it even if you don’t have to do it. In a reasonably functioning university, you find people working all the time because they love it; that’s what they want to do; they’re given the opportunity, they have the resources, they’re encouraged to be free and independent and creative-what’s better? That’s what they love to do. And that, again, can be done at any level.

Read More: RSN


The University of British Columbia’s Board of Governors passed a new “Use of Teaching Materials” policy on February 26 with minimal consultation with the Faculty Association of UBC (FAUBC). Unless faculty members indicate on course materials that their use is protected or unless they file “a prescribed Use of Teaching Materials form” form each course each time its offered, the University now claims the right to use the materials as administrators see fit:

…if a UBC Instructor makes his/her Teaching Materials available for use by others, unless that UBC Instructor places restrictions upon the Teaching Materials he/she shares in accordance with Section 2, UBC may, through its Faculties, Departments and individual Instructors, use, revise, and allow other UBC Instructors to use and revise the Teaching Materials to facilitate ongoing offerings of Credit Courses. The contribution of all UBC Instructors to the development of such Teaching Materials will be acknowledged in accordance with accepted scholarly standards unless the UBC Instructors advise UBC, at any time, that they do not wish such acknowledgement.

FAUBC President Nancy Langton cautioned faculty members:

If you share your teaching materials without taking any additional steps, you will be deemed to have given permission for anyone in the UBC teaching community to use and revise your materials at will. This deemed consent is irrevocable. It is not clear what the policy means when it refers to “sharing” teaching materials. This may include situations such as if someone asks to see your syllabus, or a case you wrote, or you post your materials on a public website.

In addition, you will have to ask UBC to “relinquish the rights” it will apparently acquire through Policy 81 prior to trying to publish your teaching materials. Although you will still technically own the copyright, this a hollow right if others may use and/or revise your material without your explicit agreement or permission.  Generally, under the Copyright Act, only a copyright owner can use, revise, or reproduce a copyrighted work or give others permission to do so.  We do not believe that Policy 81 is fully compatible with your rights as copyright owners under the Copyright Act.

The Association very much supports the notion of sharing teaching materials, and many of us do that. But traditionally, letting someone see your syllabus (or case, etc.) has not been equivalent to granting that person the legal right to use and revise the material as they see fit. Under the new policy, that’s what this will mean.

While the policy was being developed, the Association advised the University that the only acceptable version of Policy 81 is one that would involve opting into the policy, rather than opting out. Under an opt-in policy, members who want to share their teaching materials for others to use and revise without the copyright owner’s permission could mark them as such. The University refused this compromise. Instead, if you do not opt-out, your deemed consent to the use and revision of your teaching material is irrevocable.

The Association advises you that, given Policy 81, if you do not wish others to have the right to use, revise and/or reproduce your teaching materials, it is important that you mark anything that you do share in a manner that indicates that the material is for reference only.


Robert Clift, CUFA BC, February 18, 2014– The 2014/15 provincial budget continues to shortchange students and their families according to the organization representing professors, librarians and other academic staff at BC’s public research universities.

“In a time when we should be increasing investment in the people and research necessary to diversify our economy and support local communities, this budget cuts funding to post-secondary institutions and does nothing to help us keep BC’s best and brightest at home,” said Richard Kool, President of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC (CUFA BC).

“By 2016, per student operating grants to universities, colleges and institutes will have dropped 20% in real terms since the Liberals formed government,” Kool added. “Students have already lost support services and learning opportunities due to inadequate funding and these new cuts will shortchange students even further.”

“Moreover, we are losing some of the best and brightest BC students to other provinces because we don’t have a provincial graduate fellowship program to support tomorrow’s innovators,” Kool said.

The creation of the BC Training and Education Savings Grant will do little to help students and their families, say the professors.

“The BC Training and Education Savings Grant is completely inadequate”, Kool said. “The value of the government’s contribution will not even cover the projected increase in tuition fees for one year by the time a child born today reaches age 18. We should be able to do better.”

“Using the government’s numbers, the value of the government’s contribution will fall $473 short of the projected tuition fee increases. Using more realistic calculations, the gap is $754,” Kool added. “This is on top of tuition fees that have already doubled under the Liberals.”

“Our society and economy demands educated citizens,” Kool said. “Simply training people for resource-dependent jobs, as proposed by this budget, ignores the need to prepare people for the social, economic and environmental changes in front of us. The provincial government’s narrow focus limits our possibilities and ill-prepares us for an ever changing world.”

The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC represents 4,600 professors, librarians, instructors, lecturers and other academic staff at BC’s five public research universities – UBC (Vancouver and Kelowna), SFU (Burnaby, Surrey, Vancouver), UVic (Victoria), UNBC (Prince George, Quesnel, Terrace, Fort St. John) and Royal Roads (Victoria).

Read More: CUFA BC


Photo by Alejandra Gonzalez Ramirez

Sahil Chinoy and Adriann Dinolfo, Daily Californian, February 13, 2014–UC President Janet Napolitano has been protested across her tour of the UC system, and her visit to UC Berkeley proved no different as individuals from several campus coalitions coalesced in two separate demonstrations Thursday – one continuing into the night – to express their discontent.

As of 1 a.m., the demonstrations remained ongoing, although a diminished version of earlier iterations, with about 30 to 40 protesters outside the Blum Center for Developing Economies, inside of which nine students have locked themselves.

BAMN, a group that advocates for immigrant rights, began the first round of protests at 10 a.m. with a small group of about 15 people outside Sutardja Dai Hall. Three hours later, about 150 people gathered on Upper Sproul Plaza for another protest led by the Students of Color Solidarity Coalition.

Both groups expressed disapproval of Napolitano’s history of deportation as the former Secretary of Homeland Security and of her nonacademic background.

Jasmene del Aguila, a UC Berkeley freshman watching the Sproul Plaza protest, said she supported the demonstrators because she knows undocumented students attend the university, adding that these individuals should have the same opportunities as other students.

In comparison, Nic Jaber, a UC Berkeley sophomore who also observed the protest, was not convinced the SCSC had the right strategy.

“Whether or not she enforced immigration has nothing to do with her proclivity to be our UC president,” Jaber said. “She’s trying to work with us, and we just keep slapping her in the face.”

The protesters then marched through campus and blocked the entrance of the Blum Center, near where BAMN was still stationed.

Nine SCSC students entered the Blum Center about 2:40 p.m., chaining the door and locking themselves inside, according to SCSC organizer and UC Berkeley alumna Natalie Sanchez. She added that the students are risking arrest, and some are risking deportation.

The protesters have three demands to the administration: that individuals inside the building receive amnesty, that Chancellor Nicholas Dirks call for Napolitano’s resignation and that those in solidarity cancel classes Friday and “build a strike.”

Read More: Daily Californian


Alexandra McGee, Counterpunch, February 14, 2014– On February 13th, 2014, I attended a UC Berkeley protest against the appointment of Janet Napolitano as President of the UC system.* The qualms against her appointment fall outside of my purview to describe here. This piece is much larger than Napolitano, or the protest itself. Instead, lets look at how systemic economic inequality has affected the mentality (and thereby the capability for action) of my generation.

Organized by the Associated Students of the University of California, the protest attracted upward of 500 people, purported thousands if you count onlookers and those who bore witness momentarily. With protest signs, cloth banners, megaphones and fists of solidarity, this crowd of young students had been protesting since 10 am. I started asking onlookers what their motivations were for being there and what they thought of the movement until I realized, this was no real protest.

Napolitano was in Sutardja Dai Hall. Protesters had taken the nearby Blum Center For Developing Economies. We stood, fists held high and shouting into a megaphone, all pointed in the opposite direction from our supposed target. Sutardja Dai Hall was inconveniently guarded, with five large men guarding the bottom entrance, doors locked on the second floor, three cops with shiny sunglasses glaring down at us from the top floor and two cops on bikes circling the building. News reporters stood aside, pointing their video camera into the disjointed group, many of whom were unaware of what our strategy was, or what our demands were.

Why aren’t we occupying Sutardja Dai Hall?

I began to ask those around me. The ASUC had emphasized that they were “not going to negotiate with Napolitano on the issue of her resignation.” But how would occupying a nearby building do anything at all? Why are we not engaging in constructive dialogue? “El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido!” But how will chanting together do anything but stroke our own egos? “But this is Berkeley, radicals. All of us!” Pure ideological masturbation unless you do something provocative to cause change.

I am frustrated that Berkeley continues to perpetuate the myth of its activist lifestyle for economic gain. It sells an image of the rebel protester, the ideological martyr, to a generation of youth that cannot find their way four blocks north without GPS, never mind find their way past the bureaucratic labyrinth to create substantial change. With their tuition and the gradual privatization of education (see: millions of dollars from ecologically destructive corporations like BP), they perpetuate the inequality of wealth and even endorse human rights abusers, as they have by allowing Napolitano to be their system president.

If Mario Savio were amongst us, he would hang his head in absolute shame. Not just at the cafe on campus toting his name as a publicity stunt, but at our failure to question the status quo. To disturb the system, you don’t occupy a building which poses no strategical advantage, you don’t chant just to make yourself feel good, and you do not boast that you are creating community when really all you’re doing is attracting people who want to update their facebooks with a new “rebel” profile picture.

This frustration is also fueled by great hope that I once had in the Occupy movement. Surrounded by well-intentioned, intelligent people, I was sure that change was in our grasp, but we were outlasted in our patience, overcome by our fragmentation, and overconfident in our abilities. Now, I was ready to rush the police to occupy a space of power for those who couldn’t. To represent those who had been deported from their country because of Napolitano’s discriminatory policies. To recognize our own humanity in a space where we would not be welcome. To demand recognition and respect as a human being rather than an authorized citizen.

But doing so would require facing down strongmen of the establishment. To do so would put in jeopardy our clean police records with some nonsense charge of non-compliance. As a fellow protester said, she worried that if we actually tried to change something, she wouldn’t be able to get a job because it would show up on her record. She didn’t actually think anything would change.

Bulls eye. Compliance to capitalism fueled by fear. The threat of economic punishment if we are labeled as radical.

Read More: Counterpunch


#Berkeley protests and #occupy Napolitano #highered #edstudies

by Stephen Petrina on February 13, 2014

Doug Sovern, KCBS, February 13, 2014– University of California President Janet Napolitano spent Thursday meeting with students and faculty at UC Berkeley, though many were not pleased she was on campus.

A small, but noisy band of protesters shadowed Napolitano during her day of meetings on campus.

Cal graduate Justin Chiang said Napolitano’s tenure as head of Homeland Security, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, makes her the wrong choice to lead the UC system.

We want to demand that the UC Regents, who hired Janet Napolitano, to remove her immediately, and replace her with a great educator, who can really champion public education,” he said.

Napolitano said she was too busy to respond to KCBS personally, but her spokeswoman, Dianne Klein, said she is not about to resign because of these kind of protests, and that it comes with the job.

“Berkeley is a cradle of free speech, as is the University of California in general,” Klein said. “This is part of the fabric of the university.”

Napolitano’s visit was her 10th and final stop of a UC campus listening tour that began last year, and she has been met with protesters throughout her tour of the system.


The Faculty Association of UBC (FAUBC) recently surveyed its members about preferences for the University’s management of its members’ Career Advancement Plan (CAP). Most of the 3,300 faculty members and librarians do not realize UBC manages their CAP, and perhaps most would conclude that their CAP is mismanaged.

In short, the CAP is performance pay—$2m in discretionary salary funds for Management to allocate to a select few FAUBC members each year (i.e., merit pay, performance salary adjustment). A large majority of members do not share in the spoils and the FAUBC’s part-time faculty or Sessional members (approx. 1,000) are excluded by status.

Exclusion, whether systematically or by status, from a CAP is mismanagement by definition: if your career is not advancing according to plan, you may have the employer that manages the plan, UBC, to blame.

Moreover, UBC’s Management does not fairly allocate this exceptionally large amount of potential salary increases. Alternatively, this $2m could be included in an across the board or general salary increase for the Sessionals, adding at least $2,000 per year to each part-time members’ meagre year-end wages. Instead of a divided FAUBC by status, this would mean the Association stands further united.

Just say no way to Performance Pay. Faculty associations, please pay attention.

PAY EQUITY :: Equal Pay for Equal Work :: Pay the Sessionals what it costs for a FT faculty member buyout = about $10,000 per course. Faculty associations, please wake up.


Cindy Oliver, CAUT Bulletin, January 2014– English Language Training (ELT) programs play an increasingly critical role in Canada’s post-secondary institutions as the diversity and complexity of our student population changes, and with it, the need to address those changes with programs that strengthen language proficiency. Although post-secondary education is primarily a provincial responsibility, the federal government plays a crucial role in the funding of ELT programs across the country. And it’s the looming cuts to the federal government’s contribution to those programs that has united British Columbia’s student organizations and the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators to pressure governments to take a different approach.

On Dec. 16, the federation, along with the BC division of the Canadian Federation of Students held a press conference at the Vancouver Community College’s (VCC) downtown Vancouver campus to announce plans to launch a province-wide campaign to pressure the federal and provincial governments to protect the funding arrangement that sees close to $20 million in federal funding flow through BC’s Ministry of Advanced Education to support a range of ELT programs in BC institutions.

It was no coincidence the press conference was held at the Vancouver campus of VCC; it is the largest provider of ELT programs in western Canada. It’s a role that VCC has excelled at for more than 40 years. And it has become something of a professional hub for a growing number of international students who have come to Canada to begin a new life, but need to strengthen their English language skills to ensure they can fully participate in their new country.

On hand for the press conference was Saeideh Ghassarifar, a foreign trained doctor who enrolled at VCC after immigrating to Canada from Iran. During media interviews, Ghassarifar pointed out she has an extensive educational background in her chosen field — she has three degrees, including a PhD in health care education — but she recognizes that her English language skills need to be much stronger. As she said in one interview, “as a doctor I need to understand and be understood when I am dealing with patients.” For her, the VCC English language programs are critical to her ultimate success in this country.

However, the very programs Ghassarifar accesses at VCC are under threat if the federal government moves ahead with its plans to withdraw funding currently in place under a long-standing federal-provincial settlement services agreement. It is through that agreement that BC receives close to $20 million in federal funding that eventually works its way into ELT programs at institutions like VCC. The change to the settlement program in BC, if it goes ahead as announced, would take effect on April 1, 2014.

The federal government’s rationale for cutting the funding makes no sense. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s austerity rhetoric has permeated every aspect of life in Canada, from oversight of the environment to the muzzling of federal government researchers and scientists. In every case, Harper’s approach has been to diminish the capacity of government to provide information and services that would fulfill the federal government’s part of the social contract with Canadians, a contract that should respect our rights as citizens while ensuring sustainable and balanced growth is shared. During his ten­ure as Prime Minister we have seen no evidence that he intends to keep up his side of the contract.

Just as troubling, however, is that Harper’s reneging on the $20 million in funding for BC programs comes at a time when the pro­vincial government’s commitment to post-secondary education has come under enormous pressure. For most of the past 12 years, core funding of BC’s public institutions, like in many other provinces, has simply not kept pace with the demands of increased enrolment or system-wide cost pressures. Add in the fact that government policy shifts that have allowed tuition fees to skyrocket over that same period — in BC the average undergraduate tuition fee has more than doubled — and the pressures on access and affordability have simply added more barriers to the education that government, business leaders and the broader community all know are critical to our collective success as both a province and a country. Notably, the BC Business Council — hardly a left-wing think tank — has pointed out on numerous occasions that 75 per cent of all new jobs in BC will require some form of post-secondary education (a degree, diploma, certificate or completed apprenticeship). The council notes that currently only two-thirds of BC’s labour force has that education.

The cuts in funding for English language programs are a step backwards. They will hurt students, the very people that BC and Canada need to support and encourage. Our campaign will focus on their stories and highlight the urgent need to keep ELT funding in place. Working together with allies and the broader community we are confident we can make a difference.

Cindy Oliver is president of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC.

Read More: CAUT Bulletin


In a previous blog on UBC Professor Jennifer Chan’s complaint of racial discrimination in her application to the David Lam Chair in Multicultural Education, I suggested a few things:

  • Given that the term of the current Lam Chair expired, it should itself should be left vacant, without a faculty member holding for two years.
  • With administrative terms winding down, the spring will be time for our new Dean, closing in on his third year, to ‘shuffle the cabinet’ and appoint a new administration to take affirmative action on racial equity in Education.

Questions were raised about why I said “time for reflection” when I should have said time for action on racial equity. Point taken.


No disrespect, but… Politic for politic, as faculty and student activism over the last decade was generated in response to administrative measures taken to devalue academic budget lines and increase debt loads, administrators formed policies that shored up their powers to police campus speech and launch investigations. Following an introduction of a Respectful Environment policy in 2008, in anticipation of an upcoming political protest on campus in March 2009, the President of UBC circulated a “Respectful Debate” memo warning students and faculty to “pay special attention to the rules that govern our conduct” for speech. Legislation of respect entangles or snares the left and right in the same finely meshed dragnet attenuating civil liberties. This also recalibrates a network of surveillance media and technologies, challenging nearly all protections in the workplace. Some self-identified centrists or voices of reason welcome the new measures, adopting roles of third persons while reporting to administrators that loose lips sink scholar-ships.

In Canada and the US, these new respectful workplace policies, which anticipate or respond to workplace legislation and court decisions, mean that academic freedom and charter or constitutional rights noticeably contract at the campus gates. Watching postsecondary institution by institution adopt similar respectful workplace policies, the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), issued a memorandum in late March 2009 advising vigilance: “the test of ‘disrespect’ identified in these policies is for the most part experiential and subjective – notions like ‘feelings of shame’ or ‘embarrassment’ crop up repeatedly.” He subsequently asserted, “a major problem in Canadian universities is not that too many people are asserting their academic freedom, but that too few are.”

Similar policies in the US are compounded by the Supreme Court’s 2006 Garcetti v. Ceballos opinion that “when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline,” reinforcing managerial discretion and prerogative. Although academic freedom remains a special concern of free speech rights and was deferred by the Court in Garcetti, legal analysts such as Harvey Gilmore concur that “Garcetti has now become the definitive statement on a public employer’s discretion in managing office operations, and that discretion includes controlling an employee’s speech made in the scope of the employee’s professional capacity.”

Following legislation in four other provinces, on 1 July 2012 new legislation in BC came into effect through an amendment of the mental disorder section of the Workers Compensation Act. The new amendment in Section 5.1 provides for potential compensation if the disorder

(i) is a reaction to one or more traumatic events arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment, or
(ii) is predominantly caused by a significant work-related stressor, including bullying or harassment, or a cumulative series of significant work-related stressors, arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment.

For legal preparation for this legislation now common across Canada, universities such as UBC folded a large scope of potential infractions into their respectful workplace policies. What stands as protection for disability or “mental disorder” and against “bullying or harassment” under the law is extended in higher education policy to common modes of academic speech—commentary and criticism—that might be articulated in the wrong tone.

Offices of Human Resources introducing or monitoring respectful workplace policies oversimplify speech by stressing, “it is not what you say but how you say it that counts.” Repeated in HR across higher education and curiously by some administrators, this folksy maxim come respectful workplace policy draws on centuries of etiquette texts. “Rather than seeing public talk occasions as needing politeness or civility, a better norm” Karen Tracy proposes, “is reasonable hostility.” She effectively hashes out parameters for democratic communicative practice and flips this “aphorism on its head, it is not merely how something is said, but what a person says that matters.”

Only certain types of face-attack are legitimate and desirable in local governance situations. ‘Reasonable hostility’ is the name for acts that are. Reasonable hostility involves person-directed attack; it is remarks that imply disrespectful, undesirable things about others. Targets of reasonable hostility will judge speakers uttering those remarks to be rude, disrespectful, unfair, and so on…. A speaker might be cognizant that his or her remarks may have this effect, but their purpose is to express outrage about a wrong.  The speaker sees self’s central aim as witnessing a truth or expressing righteous indignation.

Faculty and students are bookended by a reformalization of academic speech on one side and a normalization of administrative equivocation, deception included, on the other. Can voices of critique and voices of liberty speak together, with reasonable hostility, as a voice of truth? Can the left and right speak (together)?

Read More: Petrina, S. & Ross, E. W. (2014). Critical University Studies: Workplace, Milestones, Crossroads, Respect, TruthWorkplace, 23, 62-71.


Christine Des Garennes, The News-Gazette, February 2, 2014– On one side you have an award-winning, internationally-known scholar. On the other side you have an equally respected researcher and professor with just as many publications and grants to his or her name.

One believes establishing a faculty union would protect and strengthen the university. The other insists a bargaining unit for faculty would weaken the institution.

Can anyone win this debate?

Efforts to form a faculty union on the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus in recent years have for the most part entailed discussions in offices and meeting rooms. But as union organizers ramp up their activities — asking people to sign a statement of support (an announcement disclosing numbers is expected soon) and distributing promotional literature — the discourse, if you will, has intensified.

Not long after the Campus Faculty Association, the group behind the unionization effort, delivered to every faculty member a brochure unveiling some of its more prominent supporters, an opposing group ratcheted up its campaign. That group released its own list of notable professors and their reasons for coming out against a faculty union.

Meantime, university officials, including Chancellor Phyllis Wise, have said publicly they don’t see a need for a faculty union and that having one would only make dealings between the faculty and administration more confrontational. And about 140 miles north on the UI’s Chicago campus, the nascent UIC United Faculty is in its 17th month of negotiating with administration for its first contract after organizing back in 2011.

Whatever happens in Urbana, it’s likely the debate will continue for some time.

One union, two contracts

In the U.S., more than 350,000 college and university faculty are represented by collective bargaining units, according to the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College City University of New York.

Because of a Supreme Court ruling in 1980, which stated that faculty at Yeshiva University acted as managers or supervisors rather than employees, few unionized faculty are found at private institutions, said William Herbert, executive director of the center and former deputy chairman of the New York State Public Employment Relations Board.

The majority of unionized faculty are at public institutions, and about 43 percent are at four-year institutions. In Illinois, there are about 20,062 unionized faculty. Unions are found at state universities like Southern Illinois and community colleges such as Parkland College.

“It’s safe to say that when there is an effort to organize on a campus, it’s democracy in action, and democracy in action takes many different variations,” Herbert said.

Illinois has a public sector collective bargaining statute, which allows employees to unionize. And the process can entail a gathering of what Herbert called “a showing of interest to establish support for unionization.”

“That can lead to voluntary recognition by the employer or, if employer refuses to recognize, then a petition can be filed” with the Illinois Educational Relations Labor Board.

To prove a union has support, organizers can hold an election or a card check in which faculty would sign (or not) cards stating that they favor union representation. If at least 50 percent plus one of all eligible faculty sign authorization cards in favor of forming a union, eventually the union would be able to negotiate a contract.

The Campus Faculty Association has indicated it could go the route of the card check.

“I think it’s going to go much more smoothly here,” compared with the Chicago campus campaign, said CFA President Harriet Murav, UI Professor of Slavic languages and literatures. “This is a campus that has a reputation for excellence. This is the flagship campus … and I don’t think administration would want to impede what we have going on here, in terms of research, teaching and public service excellence. I think the whole country will be watching closely.”

Read More: The News-Gazette


Scott Carlson, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 5, 2014– Thirty-four pages of research, branded with a staid title and rife with complicated graphs, might not seem like a scintillating read, but there’s no doubt that a report released on Wednesday will punch higher education’s hot buttons in a big way.

The report, “Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive: Changing Staffing and Compensation Patterns in Higher Education,” says that new administrative positions—particularly in student services—drove a 28-percent expansion of the higher-ed work force from 2000 to 2012. The report was released by the Delta Cost Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan social-science organization whose researchers analyze college finances.

What’s more, the report says, the number of full-time faculty and staff members per professional or managerial administrator has declined 40 percent, to around 2.5 to 1.

Full-time faculty members also lost ground to part-time instructors (who now compose half of the instructional staff at most types of colleges), particularly at public master’s and bachelor’s institutions.

And the kicker: You can’t blame faculty salaries for the rise in tuition. Faculty salaries were “essentially flat” from 2000 to 2012, the report says. And “we didn’t see the savings that we would have expected from the shift to part-time faculty,” said Donna M. Desrochers, an author of the report.

The rise in tuition was probably driven more by the cost of benefits, the addition of nonfaculty positions, and, of course, declines in state support.

Howard J. Bunsis, a professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University and chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Collective Bargaining Congress, wasn’t surprised by the conclusions of the study.

“You see it on every campus—an increase in administration and a decrease in full-time faculty, and an increase in the use of part-time faculty,” he said. With that trend, along with rising tuition and falling state support, “you’re painting a pretty fair picture of higher ed,” he continued. “It’s not what it should be. What’s broken in higher ed is the priorities, and it’s been broken for a long time.”

Read More: Chronicle of Higher Ed

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A Staff Report Summarizing eForum Responses on the Working Conditions of Contingent Faculty in Higher Education
January 2014

The post-secondary academic workforce has undergone a remarkable change over the last several decades. The tenure-track college professor with a stable salary, firmly grounded in the middle or upper-middle class, is becoming rare. Taking her place is the contingent faculty: nontenure-track teachers, such as part-time adjuncts or graduate instructors, with no job security from one semester to the next, working at a piece rate with few or no benefits across multiple workplaces, and far too often struggling to make ends meet. In 1970, adjuncts made up 20 percent of all higher education faculty. Today, they represent half.

Read more: The JIT Professor


Audrey Williams June, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 7, 2014– Maria C. Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority, answered via email select questions submitted by viewers of The Chronicle’s online chat about adjunct issues. The questions and her responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q. Some adjuncts have access to health-care benefits already and don’t need to be covered by the Affordable Care Act. Do you support an exemption so that we could keep our current teaching loads (and paychecks) rather than face colleges cutting our hours so they don’t have to cover us?

A. In this scenario, is the institution getting an exemption from the employer mandate, or is the adjunct with health insurance getting an exemption from having his/her workload reduced? (Don’t like the latter.)

As we indicated in our comments to the IRS, we think that (1) institutions should not be allowed to avoid or circumvent the letter and spirit of the law, namely that no one should be uninsured; (2) educational quality and commitment to the mission of education, particularly as a public good, should be driving institutional response to the ACA, so avoiding excessive course loads is actually a good thing if it is accompanied with the kind of compensation that reflects the real importance of the work. Since these aims can conflict with one another in this context, administrators need to closely collaborate with faculty, with unions, and with students to craft solutions for each individual institution that achieve both aims in a financially sustainable (and legally compliant) way.

Personally I believe with many of my colleagues that fighting for higher course loads may be beneficial for some individuals in the short term but highly problematic for the quality of education and the profession in the long term. I realize that can be hard to face when one has had one’s course load and income reduced, but it’s something that we have to confront honestly as members of the educational profession. And I think it’s reprehensible that so many of our colleagues continue to be forced into positions where their personal economic survival is being pitted against the professional responsibilities to which they have committed as educators.

Q. I don’t think universities will do anything drastic to improve the plight of adjuncts overnight. But what are some ways in which universities can gradually move toward better treatment of adjuncts?

A. Step 1 is to acknowledge the problem—it’s a huge first step. Do a self-study to find out what the conditions actually are on one’s campus and how they compare to conditions locally, regionally, and nationally. The most important aspect of this step is to LISTEN to the contingent faculty on campus (including through anonymous surveys) and to commit to protecting their right to give honest answers—no retaliation allowed. There are good resources at the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success.

Most important: Commit to change and get broad campus and community buy-in. Don’t assume that anyone is not a potential ally. Ground the work in the research and understanding that transforming the working conditions of contingent faculty will benefit students, the campus, and the community in the long run.

Q. What do you say about claims that colleges would have to raise tuition to pay adjuncts more and give them health benefits?

A. I think that’s a scare tactic that has been effectively challenged by the kind of work that the American Association of University Professors has done to analyze the audited financial statements of colleges and universities. Money is there, and faculty and administrators and students should all be working together to put pressure on states to reinvest in higher education. See also Delphi’s “Dispelling the Myths.”

Q. Does New Faculty Majority want colleges to turn adjunct jobs into full-time jobs?

A. NFM believes that part-time faculty, especially those that have been long-serving, should be given first preference for full-time jobs that open up. But we also believe that part time should really mean part time—100 percent pro rata compensation—it should not mean full-time work for less than part-time pay. On this issue we have to be careful to remember that people who need part-time work are often caregivers, especially women, and people with disabilities, so we don’t want to forget about them in our recognition that there is a need for full-time positions and a huge number of people who are willing and able to fill them.

Read More: Chronicle of Higher Ed


Richard Moser, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 13, 2014– The increasing exploitation of contingent faculty members is one dimension of an employment strategy sometimes called the “two-tiered” or “multitiered” labor system.

This new labor system is firmly established in higher education and constitutes a threat to the teaching profession. If left unchecked, it will undermine the university’s status as an institution of higher learning because the overuse of adjuncts and their lowly status and compensation institutionalize disincentives to quality education, threaten academic freedom and shared governance, and disqualify the campus as an exemplar of democratic values. These developments in academic labor are the most troubling expressions of the so-called corporatization of higher education.

“Corporatization” is the name sometimes given to what has happened to higher education over the last 30 years. Corporatization is the reorganization of our great national resources, including higher education, in accordance with a shortsighted business model. Three decades of decline in public funding for higher education opened the door for increasing corporate influence, and since then the work of the university has been redirected to suit the corporate vision.

The most striking symptoms of corporatization shift costs and risks downward and direct capital and authority upward. Rising tuition and debt loads for students limit access to education for working-class students. The faculty and many other campus workers suffer lower compensation as the number of managers, and their pay, rises sharply. Campus management concentrates resources on areas where wealth is created, and new ideas and technologies developed at public cost become the entitlement of the corporate sector. The privatization and outsourcing of university functions and jobs from food service to bookstores to instruction enrich a few businessmen and create more low-wage nonunion jobs. Increasingly authoritarian governance practices have become the “new normal.”

Read More: Chronicle of Higher Ed


Oftentimes, the academic job market for full-time (FT) faculty is inversely related to economic recessions. Not anymore. In this prolonged Great Recession, turned Great Depression II in parts of North America and across the world, youth have been particularly hard hit, more pronounced by race. The most common description for this current economy for youth is “a precipitous decline in employment and a corresponding increase in unemployment.” In Canada and the US, unemployment rates for the 16-19 year olds exceeds 25%. At the same time, one of the most common descriptions for postsecondary enrollment and participation in Canada and the US is “tremendous growth at the undergraduate level… the number of graduate students has grown significantly faster than the number of undergraduate students over the last 30 years.” With “school-to-work” and “youth employment” oxymoronic, corporate academia and the education industry are capitalizing on masses of students returning to desperately secure advanced credentials in hard times, but no longer does this matter to the professoriate.

If higher education enrollment has been significant, increases in online or e-learning enrollment have been phenomenal. Postsecondary institutions in North America commonly realized 100% increases in online course enrollment from the early 2000s to the present with the percentage of total registrations increasing to 25% for some universities. In Canada, this translates to about 250,000 postsecondary students currently taking online courses but has not translated into FT faculty appointments. More pointedly, it has eroded the FT faculty job market and fueled the part-time (PT) job economy of higher education. About 50% of all faculty in North America are PT but this seems to jump to about 85%-90% for those teaching online courses. For example, in the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Master of Educational Technology (MET), where there are nearly 1,000 registrations per year, 85% of all sections are taught by PT faculty. In its decade of existence, not a single FT faculty member has been hired for this revenue generating program. Mirroring trends across North America, support staff doubling as adjunct or sessional teach about 45% of MET courses in addition to their 8:30-4:30 job functions in the service units. These indicators are of a larger scope of trends in the automation of intellectual work.

Given these practices across Canada, in the field of Education for example, there has been a precipitous decline in employment of FT faculty, which corresponds with the precipitous decline in employment of youth (Figure 1). Education is fairly reflective of the overall academic job market for doctorates in Canada. Except for short-term trends in certain disciplines, the market for PhDs is bleak. Trends and an expansion of the Great Recession predict that the market will worsen for graduates looking for FT academic jobs in all disciplines. A postdoctoral appointment market is very unlikely to materialize at any scale to offset trends. For instance, Education at UBC currently employs just a handful (i.e., 4-5) of postdocs.

To put it in mild, simple terms: Universities changed their priorities and values by devaluing academic budget lines. Now in inverse relationship to the increases in revenue realized by universities through the 2000s, academic budgets were progressively reduced from 40% or more to just around 20% for many of these institutions. One indicator of this trend is the expansion of adjunct labor or PT academics. In some colleges or faculties, such as Education at UBC, the number of PT faculty, which approached twice that of FT in 2008, teach from 33% to 85% of all sections, depending on the program.

Another indicator is the displacement of tenure track research faculty by non-tenure track, teaching-intensive positions. For example, in Education at UBC, about 18 of the last 25 FT faculty hires were for non-tenure track teaching-intensive positions (i.e., 10 courses per year for Instructor, Lecturer, etc.). This was partially to offset a trend of PT faculty hires pushing Education well over its faculty salary budget (e.g., 240 PT appointments in 2008). Measures in North America have been so draconian that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) was compelled to report in 2010 that “the tenure system has all but collapsed…. the proportion of teaching-intensive to research-intensive appointments has risen sharply. However, the majority of teaching-intensive positions have been shunted outside of the tenure system.” What is faculty governance, other than an oligarchy, with a handful of faculty governing or to govern?

Read More: Petrina, S. & Ross, E. W. (2014). Critical University Studies: Workplace, Milestones, Crossroads, Respect, Truth. Workplace, 23, 62-71.

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Beautiful Mind, 1932-2014

Rykesha Hudson & Elizabeth Pears, The Voice, February 10, 2014–  JAMAICAN CULTURAL theorist Stuart Hall has died aged 82, according to reports.

Hall, who grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, studied at Oxford and emerged as one of the Britain’s leading sociologists.

Last autumn, Hall was brought to the big screen, in The Stuart Hall Project, a documentary and labour of love from acclaimed director John Akomfrah, for whom the academic is a personal hero.

Akomfrah said: “Stuart Hall was one of the few people of colour we saw on television who wasn’t crooning, dancing, or running…he was a kind of rock star for us [black teenage bookworms], a pop icon with brains whose very iconic presence on this most public of platforms – television – suggested all manner of ‘impossible possibilities’.”

Hall retired from public life in recent years due to health problems including kidney failure.

One of the first to pay tribute to the “intellectual giant” was Professor Gus John. He told The Voice: “I have been hugely influenced by his work.

“In the last half a century or so, he was an intellectual giant. His work on the state and its relationship with people has been very influential in our struggles.

“His work on culture and imperialism was powerful and influential. He is a huge loss to Britain and the world.”

Also paying tribute to his life and work, Martin Bean, vice-chancellor of The Open University said: “His loss will be felt right across the world of academia and sociology as a whole.

“Stuart was one of the intellectual founders of cultural studies, publishing many influential books and shaping the conversations of the time.

“It was a privilege to have Stuart at the heart of The Open University – touching and influencing so many lives through his courses and tutoring.

“He was a committed and influential public intellectual of the new left, who embodied the spirit of what the OU has always stood for; openness, accessibility, a champion for social justice and of the power of education to bring positive change in peoples’ lives.”

PRAISED: Members of the academic world have hailed Hall’s contribution

Dubbed the godfather of multiculturalism, Hall was born on February 3, 1932, in Kingston, Jamaica, to a light-skinned, middle class family.

From an early age, Hall identified himself as an outsider. In his own home, he was quite literally the black sheep being “at least three shades darker” than the rest of his family – “the first social fact I knew about myself”, he admitted.

Educated at the all-male Jamaica College, one of the island’s elite establishments whose alumni includes the late Jamaican Premier Norman Manley and late PM Michael Manley, Hall was different from the majority of young men of his age.

And unlike his fellow West Indians who formed the Windrush Generation, Hall arrived in Britain in 1951 not looking for menial work but as a Rhodes scholar – a recipient of funding from the Jamaican Government – to read English Literature at Merton College, University of Oxford.

Read More: The Voice


Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
Equity, Governance, Economics and Critical University Studies
No 23 (2014)

As we state in our Commentary, “This Issue marks a couple of milestones and crossroads for Workplace. We are celebrating fifteen years of dynamic, insightful, if not inciting, critical university studies (CUS). Perhaps more than anything, and perhaps closer to the ground than any CUS publication of this era, Workplace documents changes, crossroads, and the hard won struggles to maintain academic dignity, freedom, justice, and integrity in this volatile occupation we call higher education.” Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies (ICES).


  • Critical University Studies: Workplace, Milestones, Crossroads, Respect, Truth
    • Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross


  • Differences in Black Faculty Rank in 4-Year Texas Public Universities: A Multi-Year Analysis
    • Brandolyn E Jones & John R Slate
  • Academic Work Revised: From Dichotomies to a Typology
    • Elias Pekkola
  • No Free Set of Steak Knives: One Long, Unfinished Struggle to Build Education College Faculty Governance
    • Ishmael Munene & Guy B Senese
  • Year One as an Education Activist
    • Shaun Johnson
  • Rethinking Economics Education: Challenges and Opportunities
    • Sandra Ximena Delgado-Betancourth
  • Review of Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think
    • C. A. Bowers