4.12.13

THE FRUITS OF LIBERATING TOLERANCE.

We've been following the efforts by Chicago State University's administration to silence a weblog maintained by dissident faculty.  Those colleagues have retained a Loop law firm to request that the administration back off.  The opening paragraphs are legal-speak for "your request is immaterial and incompetent" with special delineation of the incompetence of the request.  Counsel are also of the view that Chicago State's administration have been misappropriating public property.  "Resources that have been squandered on bloated administrative salaries should have been used to benefit students."  Indeed.

But administrative circling-the-wagons and telling the faculty (who, properly, are the stewards of the academic mission) to go back to their cloisters seems to be catching on, particularly as higher education's subprime providers discover that there is, indeed, excess capacity in access-assessment-remediation-retention.  In this case, it's an undisclosed paper-pusher at Minnesota-Morris, getting finicky about faculty objecting to a declaration of financial exigency that will abolish several departments.
I remind you that academic freedom is a limited protection, and applies only to your research and classroom teaching, and, in the case of the latter, to discussion of materials relevant to the course subject.

Otherwise, faculty can be (and have been) punished for written and oral communication that is disruptive or uncivil.
The message was forwarded to the useful Rebecca Schuman, who described the restructurings in progress at two relatively obscure institutions.
Nobody seems to notice that the structure of today’s higher-ed “business” model is backward: It’s far easier to cut academics than it is to cut anything else, so that’s what universities are doing. The irony that the very raison d’être of a university—education!—is also its most disposable aspect seems lost on everyone (perhaps because nobody studies English, philosophy, or French anymore, so nobody recognizes irony or knows what a raison d’être is).
It's pure Benjamin Ginsberg.  With the connivance of the faculty.
The years of faculty self-governance, that all-powerful faculty senate teeming with frothy-mouthed Trotskyites, are long past. Nowadays the power to declare large swaths of higher education unfit for human study rests solely with administrators, who are obviously not going to vote to demote or “reduce” themselves.
There's more at work: after years of identity politics and affirmative action and special education and all the other trendy pet projects coopted the radicals, the idea of serving on faculty senate to challenge administrative bloat lost its appeal to the people around whom a principled opposition might emerge.  And once the administration and its willing accomplices in governance write "incivility" into the index of proscribed behaviors, it only becomes a matter of time before the proscription is applied to the faculty.

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