Moments of crisis reveal something about a society. The COVID-19 pandemic reveals the slow-burning ecological and social crisis that is the truth of ours. As we all care for each other, business is greasing the hands of politicians they bought off long ago. As governments dole out economic stimulus to steady the ship and chart a course to return us to the status quo, remember: the status quo is the crisis.
In a crisis everything is up for grabs. 2020 will be no different from 2008. As we know, in 2008, the few accumulated massive wealth by dispossessing the many. In higher education, the financial crisis served as the perfect vehicle for neoliberal “solutions” that included multiplying the ranks of underpaid contingent faculty, reducing tenure-track positions, defunding research, hiking tuition paid for by unforgiveable student debt, all to underwrite administrative bloat and non-core functions. Predictions are that the COVID-19 crisis will be far worse.
Hundreds of universities have frozen hiring, canceled offers and reneged on contracts. Precarious workers like visiting faculty and adjuncts are facing layoffs in the coming months while graduate students face a barren job market next year. Whether private universities whose endowments are shaken or public universities reliant on increasingly overburdened state budgets, there can be little doubt that higher education is staring down years of austerity. Our fear is that any “recovery” in the short term will come at the expense of the most precarious sectors of academic labor and that any “recovery” in the long term will make all academic work precarious.
We know this playbook from 2008. The difference now is that since we know it, we are better positioned to organize against it. We must not fear this moment. We must seize upon it.
In the coming redistribution, we must defend what little we have, and demand everything we need. This is the moment to shape our future. Join us.
WHo we are
We are a growing cross-rank, cross-institution solidarity network of university researchers, educators, and workers across the United States whose labor performs the core functions of higher education.
We seek to shape the coming economic redistribution in the wake of COVID-19.
Our goals are:
to coordinate and influence the efforts of already existing organizations (e.g., unions and union caucuses, faculty senates and faculty caucuses, professional associations, etc.) and,
to create a united front that will have the strength not just to resist austerity but to leverage the current crisis to bring about an equitable turn in higher education.
To achieve this, we offer members:
a platform to amplify their own campaigns and to learn from others
a vision and strategies that synthesize the work of our members