Post Academic

March 4 Day of Action report: UC Irvine

Posted in Broke-Ass Schools,The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on March 4, 2010
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Banner at the Student Center

I just returned from the March 4 Day of Action event at UC Irvine, leaving just as the rally was turning into a march around campus. Since many of you reading this blog have some ties to UCI, I’ll try to set the scene for you. The rally, with speakers, was held by the flagpoles and probably drew 300-400 students, faculty, lecturers, and staffers. It was probably the biggest crowd I’ve seen at the flagpoles at UCI, but, then again, it also didn’t completely drown out the frats recruiting on Ring Road, either.   I’ll skip a general discussion of the speeches given, only to say that they really did get the crowd excited, that the recognition of race issues was a highlight, and that, while I admire student activists who can speak to big crowds (I know I couldn’t), it is important to stay on topic and get your facts right.

Protestors walking through the Student Center plaza

To stay on topic to what’s relevant to this blog, I was eager to find out more about how the budget cuts and tuition hikes have affected grad students, part-time faculty, and anyone applying for tenure-track jobs at the UC.  First, we can dispense with the latter, because there was no talk about unfreezing/unfrozen tenure-track lines.  It basically seemed that lecturer labor was recognized as the default education delivery system, rather than tenure-track faculty.  Confirming what I already knew, I found out anecdotally from a number of friends and colleagues just, one, how bad the job market is across a variety of disciplines and, two, how few opportunities there are to hang on to lecturing jobs, for those with hopes of making it through to the next job application cycle.

Students walking out of class in HIB 100. The protestors passed by the classrooms and shook homemade noisemakers crafted out of duct-taped soda cans and kind of beckoned the students out of class.

While hardly the *most* flagrantly affected demographic by the budget crunch in higher education, lecturers seem to have been impacted in very significant ways.  One of the lecturers who spoke explained how the effects of depleted budgets and shrinking enrollments trickle-down all the way to bottom of the totem pole, part-time faculty, many of whom are without benefits and saddled with student loans to pay off after graduating and few jobs to apply for, much less lined up:

1. Fee hikes have made college more expensive and difficult to afford for undergraduates;

2. Fewer undergraduates enrolling means smaller classes and/or fewer sections;

3. Fewer course offerings mean that there isn’t a need to hire more lecturers or part-time faculty to fill in the gaps.

The Humanities Quad as we've always wanted to see it: Full of student demonstrators!

What this chain reaction of bad also reflects is just how far the goal posts have moved for a lot of graduate students seeking their vocations in academia.  Somehow, many of us went from wishing for a tenure-track job at the end of the process, to hoping that there were enough well-suited jobs to apply for, to hanging on for lecturing positions that pay a fraction of the salary for the same amount of work, to not being able to even find the opportunity to have our labor exploited as part-time teachers.

Below is a link to Huffington Post’s March 4 live blog:

March 4 Day of Action live blog [Huffington Post]

All images from the March 4 march at UC Irvine, courtesy of Patricia Pierson.

UC President Mark Yudof Has Not Resigned, But He’s Tweeting

Posted in Broke-Ass Schools,The Education Industry by Caroline Roberts on March 4, 2010
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I’ve been monitoring the #march4 Twitter feed. Some of it is great, some of it makes no sense, and some of it is flat-out wrong. But I was intrigued by a Tweet declaring that UC President Mark Yudof was resigning in the wake of the protests.

Alas, this appears to be wishful thinking on the students’ part and on the part of some Internet pranksters. Yudof tweeted back that he was not resigning.

Whether or not Yudof is the problem, part of the problem, or not part of the problem, here’s what I want to know: Who is watching his tweets? Surely he has something better to do during major student protests than tweet? And how much is the person watching his tweets getting paid?

UC President Mark Yudof Caught In Resignation Hoax [HuffPo]

#march4 Twitter feed

Mark Yudof’s Twitter

Updated by Arnold: If you haven’t read the NY Times Q&A with Yudof, it’s definitely worth a look.  It’s sure nice of him to think of the UC as a cemetery.

Questions for Mark Yudof: Big Man on Campus [NY Times]

Non-Protesters Getting Involved in Day of Action

Posted in Broke-Ass Schools,The Education Industry by Caroline Roberts on March 4, 2010
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One reason I often hear for protests being ignored is that they usually involve the usual suspects: hippie longhairs, Socialist marching bands, and naked people. However, the Day of Action (Day of Action organization info from Arnold, below) appears to be drawing interest because so many people have been affected by the UC budget cuts. The NYT profiles two guys who fall out of the protest demographic:

Both are members of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and say they are usually uninterested in protests. But with friends having trouble getting into classes they need to graduate, the budget cuts are something worth fighting, they said.

This week, in one of Mr. Johnston’s classes, an African-American studies professor told students he could not pass out the usual handouts because he had run out of money for photocopies [emphasis mine]. Instead, students printed out the readings themselves.

Not able to graduate because the class you need got canceled? Can’t get an appointment with an advisor to avoid that kind of situation because there aren’t enough advisors to go around? Profs/TAs/adjuncts don’t have enough money for the copy machine? (Somebody’s got the secret code for the copy machine–share it!) Something’s clearly busted. Remind me why the administrators for these schools are so well paid again?

Arnold will be at the protests today, and we’ll be adding notes as we go.

Getting Ready to March Over Education Cuts – Bay Area Blog