Posts Tagged ‘protest’

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Today is National Adjunct Walkout Day. Adjunct professors on campuses across the country hope to draw attention to their poverty-level wages, with no chance of advancing to a tenure-track position.

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According to an extensive crowd-sourced survey of adjunct working conditions conducted in 2012 by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce,

Adjuncts don’t make much money, they receive little support in terms of professional development from the institutions where they teach, and most would accept a full-time tenure-track position if it were offered to them.

As Karen Hildebrand, an adjunct professor at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, explains,

This National Adjunct Walkout Day aims to help adjuncts achieve parity with full-time faculty – better pay, job security, equality in professional development opportunities, etc.

But there are two things about this day that are pretty basic to how we treat each other and how we view the world.

First, hiring people as adjuncts sets a very bad example to college students. That’s not the way to treat people.

Instead of signaling “Get used to it – this is the world you will inhabit, we will use you, wring everything we can out of you and throw you out,” educators should be signaling, “Young College Graduate – we will help you make the world a better place.”

Second, this thing of paying substandard salaries to teachers is a victimization of people who love what they do.

Ask any musician or actor how many times she or he has been asked to donate a free performance. After all, to the people hiring them, it’s not real work – it’s fun! It seems people who love what they do are punished for it.

Parents tell their children, “Get a degree in something you love – but make sure you can make a living from it.”

Following that logic, teaching is one of the things that you shouldn’t get a degree in.

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Protest of the day

Posted: 12 December 2014 in Uncategorized
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Italian workers in more than 50 cities across the country are participating in a general strike today to stop the center-left government’s attempt to “loosen” existing labor laws.

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Students and faculty continue to protest the layoffs and budget cuts at the University of Southern Maine.

You can read and sign a petition [ht: ja] supporting them here.

The American Association of University Professors has urged the university administration to rescind the notices of termination that have been issued. More recently, the Association’s executive director has reached the conclusion that “these actions at the University of Southern Maine have raised significant issues of academic freedom, tenure, and due process that are of basic concern to the academic community,” and has opened an investigation into the layoffs and budget cuts.

As WGBH explains,

Maine isn’t alone. As states defund public higher education, colleges and universities have made steep cuts while also increasing tuition and fees.

Protest of the day

Posted: 3 December 2014 in Uncategorized
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The folks at Adbusters are calling on rebel economists to join them at the annual American Economics Association meetings in Boston in January.

After smothering progress for decades, the mainstream stranglehold on economic thought is finally slipping. With the recent rise of student protest movements like the International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics (ISIPE), the demand for real-real world economics is at an all-time high, and a strategic spark may be all it takes for this growing discontent to explode into a global campus revolution.

This January, the rebel economists at Adbusters will head to the American Economic Association conference in Boston to throw off some much-needed sparks. As the largest annual gathering of economists in the U.S., and a magnet for media attention, the AEA conference is the perfect location to light brush fires in people’s minds, stoke debate, and inspire new flare ups of campus activism. From the workshops to the hallways, we’ll shake things up and challenge the dead-end status-quo with the subversive memes and mind-bombs of a new pluralist economics for the 21st century. We’re looking for a few good rebel economists – from students, to educators and beyond – to join in the fun!

Here are the details:

WHAT: Meme Wars at the AEA Conference
WHEN
Saturday, January 3 – Monday, January 5, 2015
WHERE: Sheraton Hotel, Boston, MA
WHO: Economics students, educators, researchers and rabble-rousers. You don’t need economic credentials to participate, but you should have a passion for economic thought and the drive to liberate it from the mainstream stranglehold.
REGISTRATIONDon’t miss the December 3 early-bird discount deadline for registration! Visit the conference website to register, and then sign up below to join the Adbusters contingent.

  • Students with college/university IDs: $25.00 (by December 3); $45 (after Dec. 3)
  • Regular attendees: $55.00 (by December 3rd); $115 (after Dec. 3)

GETTING THERE: Adbusters will provide a limited number of needs-based registration stipends for students who require it, as well as travel stipends for participants travelling from points in the mid-Atlantic, New England, and Southeast Canada. We will also help to find free housing for those who require accommodation assistance. 
CONTACT: For more information, or to sign up to join the Adbusters contingent, contact Keith Harrington: keith@adbusters.org

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Belgian workers have opened a month of intermittent strike action by paralyzing the port of Antwerp and slowing train traffic through much of the country.

Monday’s protest action targeted measures by the nation’s business-friendly government to cut into employees’ income, extend working time and restrict social services.

On their first of three Mondays of regional strikes, the unions targeted Antwerp, with Europe’s second biggest port, and made sure no ships could enter of leave the docks. Port workers have been particularly angered by measures to extend the start of pensions by two years.

Port worker Frank Verhulst complained it would force them to work until the age of 67. “But it is a very hard job here,” he said.

Labor action is to culminate in a nationwide strike on Dec. 15.

 

Many of us, college and university professors, would like to see our students take a more active role in their education. That’s because students are not consumers; they produce their own education in a collaborative manner with their professors and their fellow students. That’s the only way higher education can work.

Well, students at the University of Southern Maine, where the university administration is laying off faculty, closing academic programs, and imposing Draconian budget cuts, are demonstrating what it means to take an active role in their education.

One example, shown in the clip above, is students’ occupation of the most recent meeting of the University of Maine Board of Trustees.

A second example is a remarkable column by Michael Havlin, a recent graduate of the University of Southern Maine, who is now attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst for a dual master’s degree.

When I first enrolled at USM four years ago I was, frankly, a punk, a hoodlum, a trouble maker. When I enrolled, I had little intention of ever even actually graduating, let alone going on to pursue a secondary degree. I came to have fun and maybe get an OK job out of it.

And so, like the hoodlum that I was, I enrolled as a business major. The very first classroom I stepped into — late, of course — was Introduction to Microeconomics with Rachel Bouvier. I did not know at the time, but I would slowly find my passion in that classroom. After taking a few more courses in economics, I knew I had found my passion, and so I declared a second major.

My thoughts of quickly getting out of USM and finding some silly business job quickly dissipated as we analyzed topics such as inequality, labor rights and the environment.

I liked my business professors and courses a great deal, and I learned a lot in them. But, unlike in business, where I was taught how to do, in my economics classes, I was taught how to think. I learned how to write, how to analyze and how to challenge the status quo. I was inspired to actually do something with my life. My time with the economics department at USM gave me, the former hoodlum who comes from a working-class family, the opportunity to get an actual education. USM gave me the opportunity to pursue whatever dreams I wanted.

The University of Maine System Board of Trustees, USM President David Flanagan and Provost Joseph McDonnell apparently don’t want USM to be that kind of school anymore. Through their proposals to lay off 50 faculty members and cut two more academic programs, they’re sending the message that they don’t think that you — or your tuition — are worth a real education.

You can debate the reality of a financial crisis here at USM. In fact, a lot of people do, some of whom have Ph.D.’s in quantitative fields.

But, one thing you cannot debate is that the so-called budget crisis is being used to camouflage an agenda to drastically change the University of Southern Maine. My fear is that change will transform USM from a university at which you can get a transformative education like I did to one in which you can only learn how to punch numbers into an Excel spreadsheet or administer vaccinations at Maine Medical Center. The writing is on the walls: a USM whittled down to a center for job training in business, nursing and technology.

By cutting from USM’s academic core, the Board of Trustees is showing that the vision they have for USM is not one where students can be challenged and given the tools necessary to, perhaps, someday get a Ph.D. If you want that kind of education, you could go to a private school like Bowdoin or Bates — somewhere I am sure we can all afford.

It appears as though the administrators’ new vision is one where USM is simply an appendage to the corporate world, year after year, turning out debt-ridden, standardized workers to the business needs of southern Maine.

Maine is better than this. Mainers who can’t afford places like Bates and Bowdoin deserve a good education, too. We all deserve an opportunity to reach our potential.

We have a true gem here at USM, and we need to protect it, not just for ourselves, but for the future middle-class Mainers who want the same opportunity that I had.

A recent article chronicles national media attention on the situation at the University of Southern Maine. Here is the Facebook page of Students for USM’s future. You can donate directly to their campaign, the USMFuture Preservation Fund.