Wednesday, September 3, 2008


In response to this comment:

And maybe if this campaign had all happened when the workload actually changed, and not three years later when you had several classes of students, including many of you, signing on and getting paid exactly what was promised to them, two classes, you'd have a little more clout on the issues that do seem to matter. The funding cuts, the lack of professional development (although clearly many posters on this site resist the idea that there is any room for improvement in their teaching), health insurance for MA students with a teaching load, and the desire for more class options are all real issues that have gotten hidden by the sloganeering.

I assume from this comment that you were not here three years ago. Since you asked, there was a contingent at that time, the first semester of the double workload, who filed a grievance through the proper channels, which subsequently was promptly dismissed by those in power with a measly offer of a piddling pay-off to keep the discontents quiet. I think a lot of what you're seeing in the signs can be traced back to the frustration with the non-outcome of the initial grievance.

I don't know how you can say that the "real issues" have "gotten hidden by the sloganeering." The real issues have been covered over by an administration and faculty that purposely misrepresent and belittle our situation. The official party line is "we don't see it as a problem" because the bottom line is always the numbers and the budget and the status quo at all costs (literally). Nowhere is the quality of education a concern, either for grad students or undergrads. They may acknowledge that conditions are ideal, but they continually defer making any changes because they can't deal with it in a timely fashion. It's always, "Next semester maybe we'll have time to begin to discuss it then, after we go through the proper channels." This is why the problem has festered for three years.

We now learn that even the external review of the composition program is being viewed and implemented with reluctance and consternation, since the interim dean didn't go the "normal route" (whatever that may be) in inviting the external reviewers, or hiring one of them since they uncovered very real problems in the workload and distribution of teaching here.

While it's problematic to say that any visibility is good visibility, and while I acknowledge that many of the signs (which, by the way, are for the most part GONE) are not the most productive means to voice our concerns, you're being naive to deny that they have been a factor in putting these issues on the table. (Just the other day at the coffee kiosk I overheard LAC students talking about the English grad student issues, which I doubt they would have heard about if not for the signs or the Pipe Dream articles, etc.) If anything, the real issues are FINALLY being addressed because of the pressure that the signs and other avenues (the GSEU lawyer, et al.) have put upon the administration.

I agree it would have been ideal to have built solidarity as these issues arose, three years ago or this very semester (as for the four year total funding cuts), but that's not always possible. And unfortunately it still isn't. Summer is almost here, and a new crop of grad students are coming in--oblivious to the exploitation that awaits them, UNLESS we keep these issues alive.

By whatever means necessary.