Sunday, February 24, 2013

Free Education and Free Labor

I have recently been writing some essays and articles for a few other blogs/websites besides this one. Nothing regular. Just guest-blogging as needed in support of those organizations that are so dear to me, organizations fighting for free education and free labor: the Free University of NYC and the New York State GSEU (Graduate Student Employees' Union).

I have been thinking a lot about public higher education in the United States recently, and making sense of my own experiences as both a student and teacher/worker. The State University of New York (SUNY) is both my academic/intellectual home, as well as my employer. And there are serious issues with the way that the State of New York—through SUNY and CUNY, the City University of New York—treats its students and its workers. That's why we must organize: both as students and as workers. I support and work with the Free University of NYC because it is a coalition of students and educators from across the city who want to radically actualize a more democratic, horizontal, and inclusive model of what free (and truly public) higher education looks like. I also support and am a member of the GSEU because only through unionization can teaching assistants and student labor resist exploitation at the hands of administrators who seek to "cut costs" by saddling us with greater responsibilities while providing minimal pay and benefits.

At the website of the Free University of NYC, I helped kick off the site's new blog with a post in late January (collectively edited by Free U folks) introducing the new blog format. On February 1, I wrote a piece, "What Can We Learn from History? The Russian Revolution," introducing a historical example of the role of "free universities" in leftist thought (here, the role of "free universities" in the anarchist movement of the Russian Revolution). I also reported on various education related events in the city, for example, the People's Recovery Summit, which took place February 1-3 in Brooklyn. Weighing in on a controversy at Brooklyn College over the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement against Israel, I wrote a piece "The 'State' of Higher Education" on February 3 examining the different attitudes people in the Free U community have towards the role of the state in public higher education; some want the state to be less involved in higher education, while others would like to see the state become more involved. On February 5, I weighed in on Stony Brook University's recent creation of a task force to look into bringing MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to our university. I argued that we who care about the fate of truly public higher education must "Be the MOOC resistance." And finally, on February 8, I reported on two divestment campaigns being discussed in New York City colleges right now: a campaign against fossil fuel companies and a campaign against companies that do business in the Occupied Territories of Palestine.

The reason that so many of my posts were clustered in the first week of February is because we decided that co-curators of the Free University of NYC website (and the blog and the twitter handle) should rotate each week, ensuring that a diversity of voices and perspectives are featured.

On February 17, I also wrote a piece for our union's website, CWA Local 1104 / GSEU (Graduate Student Employees Union), titled "What Kind of Union Will We Be?" Writing for the union website was a bit different than writing for the Free University website, for instead of being a web "co-curator," I was a guest author for the GSEU, and I had to get approval of my essay by union leadership before it was published. Our union had not published an essay or article on the website since autumn 2011, so getting an essay up there will hopefully inspire others to submit essays and articles in coming months.

Then, on February 20, I reported on a rally and press conference at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art on the student body's ongoing struggle to preserve their school's historic mission to provide free education to all.

I cannot say whether or not I will continue writing essays and articles for other websites. I certainly will continue to provide updates here on my own Pacific-related research (and adventures!). Next month I look forward to writing my annual "Anniversary post." Yep. This blog will turn three in March! Huzzah!

No comments:

Post a Comment