Scott Walker: Destroying Tenure, Keeping You ‘Free’

Scott Walker is well on his way to destroying one of the finest systems of public education in this country.  Those who cheered his attack on public sector unions will cheer this move on too: it has everything they want. A repeal of tenure, destruction of faculty governance, budget slashing, more power to university administrators. Nation-hating leftists, lazy, corrupt, subversive teachers, insolent workers forming themselves into unions; these have all been disciplined and put out to pasture. The cheering from those who would have benefited the most from high-quality, affordable public education, from organized workers fighting for fair wages and better working conditions, will be the loudest. The masochistic tendencies  of those who elected Scott Walker will thus be prominently on display.  So will their sadistic ones, for they will enjoy the spectacle of uppity faculty and unionists brought to their knees, they will enjoy the idea of ‘someone else’ being told to work longer hours, just like they do.

Pay us less, make us work more, make universities more expensive for our children, let corporate managers, the one who rules our lives, run our universities too, let them hire and fire teachers and professors like they would hire and fire us–without reason, let them decide what our children will learn; our father, which art in heaven, thou hast made us powerless; make others powerless too, especially those that dare speak up for themselves. These are the rallying cries of those who elect Scott Walker, artfully packaged and funded by those who would actually benefit the most: monopolist capitalists like the Koch brothers. Wisconsin is tragedy and farce simultaneously.

I seem to remember another instance of this kind of phenomenon:

The emotional satisfaction afforded by these sadistic spectacles and by an ideology which gave them a feeling of superiority…[and] was able to compensate them–for a time at least–for the fact that their lives had been impoverished, economically and culturally….[it] resurrected the lower middle class psychologically while participating in the destruction of its old socioeconomic position. [Eric Fromm, Escape From Freedom, Henry Holt and Co., New York, pp. 219]

Why do the folks who voted for Scott Walker feel this way? Perhaps they are “seized with the feeling of individual insignificance and powerlessness…typical for monopolistic capitalism…[their] anxiety and thereby…hatred were aroused; it moved into a state of panic and was filled a craving for submission to as well as domination over those who were powerless.” [Ibid., pp. 218]

Perhaps I exaggerate; so let me turn to The Onion for a dose of much-needed realism, where, in the ‘candidate profile’ for Walker, we find:

Personal Hero: Sixth-grade teacher who inspired him to strip educators of collective bargaining rights and dismantle publicly funded higher education

Greatest Accomplishment: Stood up to people who make living pulling others from burning buildings

Gubernatorial Record: First governor in history to raise enough out-of-state funding to overcome recall challenge from own constituents

Chief Political Rival: Those who want to make a living wage

This same man will now run for president on a platform that will look very similar to the one he brought to Wisconsin.  We live in interesting times.

CUNY Administrators: Hanging with the Powerful

Readers of my ‘With Trustees Like These, Who Needs Enemies‘ series of posts will know that I’m not overly fond of CUNY administration. From interfering with faculty governance, to cracking down on academic freedom, to awarding golden parachutes to overpaid, retiring vice-chancellors, they appear to have most bases covered in their drive to subvert the mission of a public university.

What is it that animates this herd so much? A small clue presents itself for perusal in propaganda missives that are issued by the Office of University Relations, an office presumably dedicated to showing this university in the ‘best light’, and charged, possibly, with highlighting the university’s achievements in all matters academic and cultural. That its publications often serve to echo 80th Street’s party line is, I’m sure, purely accidental. One of the Office of University Relations’ publications is CUNYMatters. In its Spring 2013 issue, on page 5 of the print edition, (i,.e., five pages on from the front page story that glorifies the detested–and contested by faculty–initiative Pathways), we have a photo, prominently placed and highlighted with the tag ‘Inauguration Day 2013’. The caption for the photo reads:

First Lady Michelle Obama, leaves the White House with CUNY Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning Iris Weinshall en route to the U.S. Capitol for President Obama’s ceremonial swearing-in for his second term. Weinshall is married to New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who headed the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

Elsewhere, in the same issue of CUNYMatters, we have stories on faculty book publications, grants, student awards, and the other items of news showcasing the life of the mind. But, as noted, we also have this photo noted above.

And what’s the photo about? It shows a CUNY administrator in the presence of Someone Powerful at an Important Event. This ‘powerful’ person is not an elected representative of the people, but the spouse of one, the American President. Nevertheless, this person is the closest we’ll get to American Royalty, so presumably our CUNY Administrator is blessed, and consequently, so are we, her minions. But what has the CUNY Administrator done to deserve this entrée to the corridors of power? She is the Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning at CUNY; is she being recognized for stellar planning of facilities? The caption does not say so. Rather the caption merely notes that she is the spouse of Someone Powerful, a US senator in this case.

So there you have it folks: this is a photo worth publishing in an official publication of the Office of University Relations because a CUNY Administrator, who happens to be the spouse of the US Senator that heads the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, and thus was able to score an invite for the inauguration, happened to walk out of the White House–that palace in which American Royalty lives–with the spouse of the President of the US.

Fawning, bended knees to power; basking in reflected glory; these, apparently, are the values of the CUNY Administration, worth highlighting to all and sundry.