- Originally published, September 17, 2020, at 10:32 am.
- September 17, 11:19 am:
- I am strongly considering taking my remaining websites, Not Housebroken and The Irregular Bullshit down. See the new blog post entitled, “No, I’m not asking for money, but my sites, ‘Not Housebroken’ and ‘The Irregular Bullshit,’ may be going off the air.”
At one point I had heard that even if faculty resolutions of no confidence were non-binding, they nonetheless invariably led to university presidents stepping down, usually within a year, that is, just long enough to plausibly deny that it was those resolutions that lay behind those resignations.
Such a resolution might have passed—the question of how abstentions count makes the outcome uncertain—at the University of Michigan over President Mark S. Schlissel’s decision to reopen the school for in-person instruction despite the pandemic.
I don’t know if what I heard was correct. Even if it was, the trend in higher education has been toward greater administration autonomy, unmooring institutions from the concept of “shared governance.” Something like this happened at Saybrook: Even as President Nathan Long promised transparency and stakeholder consultations, the simple fact is that the faculty there was bored with governance and surrendered it when they accepted the merger into the TCS ES system—Saybrook’s faculty senate seems now to be a rubber stamp. Long’s rhetoric merely gave the faculty the cover they needed to choose irrelevance in the face of neoliberal exigency. Faculty at other schools, like the University of Michigan, still give a damn and, at these schools, presidential autocracy remains contested.
So the story of University of Michigan is important for two reasons. First, it is part of a saga of higher education’s struggle with the coronavirus; and second, because it will weigh heavily in the longer term fight over governance.
After all, if even on a matter of life and death, which COVID-19 most certainly is, university presidents can nonetheless do whatever the fuck they want, then it is clear that “shared governance” is dead.
Vimal Patel, “A Grad Strike, a Court Fight, a No-Confidence Vote: U. of Michigan Struggles Over Its Campus Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 16, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/a-grad-strike-a-court-fight-a-no-confidence-vote-u-of-michigan-struggles-over-its-campus-reopening
Malcolm Gaskill, “On Quitting Academia,” London Review of Books 42, no. 18 (September 24, 2020), https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v42/n18/malcolm-gaskill/diary
The allegation, strenuously denied by both U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and by LaSalle Corrections, is that a doctor at a “detention center” (really a concentration camp) in Georgia run by LaSalle for asylum-seekers has been coercing women to undergo hysterectomies. Twitter has been alive with accusations of social conservative hypocrisy: How, indeed, can one claim to be “pro-life” when supporting forced sterilization? To the extent that social conservatives still have a conscience, the allegation should certainly be problematic, but I haven’t actually yet seen a reaction in the social conservative media and wouldn’t actually expect to see it until later today or tomorrow.
Natalie Andrews and Michelle Hackman, “U.S. Opens Investigation Into Claims of Forced Hysterectomies on Detained Migrants,” Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawmakers-seek-investigation-into-allegations-of-mass-hysterectomies-on-detained-migrants-11600291610