Philosophers, Carlos Fraenkel and Adam Etinson, weigh in helpfully on "What started as a protest against an ostensibly modest raise of university tuition fees 100 days ago" and which has "become the midwife of a vigorous public debate about the political, social, and cultural physiognomy of Québec."
Some background. The annual value of targeted tax rebates and cuts in the gret state of Louisiana are now over 7 and a half billion dollars, around a third of the actual state budget, an amount that dwarfs higher education spending. These rebates are often political giveaways that make absolutely no sense, such as Walmart getting one and a half cent per dollar rebate on sales tax remittances.
Also note that the State of Louisiana has the 21st highest GDP of any state in the United States. Given the size of the population, were it a country it would be in the tiny minority of the wealthiest countries in the world. But it suffers the curse of mineral wealth, which is why one of the richest states in the country has the greatest income disparity, greatest poverty, highest per capita prison population, least funded education system, etc. etc. etc.
This information shows just how astute Lombardi's "fable" is (story HERE; please take the time to read it; it's very entertaining).
The last four years under Jindal began with a huge tax cut that rendered the code more regressive, and then continued with an even greater orgy of perpetual targeted tax giveaways. The money lost through these policies have been largely recouped through perpetual cuts to higher education. Some of it has been made up for in tuition and fee increases (four years ago the state funding/tuition plus fees ration was 6 to 4, but now that's reversed), but schools across the state have fired tenure track faculty, sometimes after declaring exigency, sometimes not. There have been no merit raises for the whole time and for the foreseeable future. And hiring freezes are the norm.
And now, if the current round of proposed cuts actually go through, flagship campus LSU would have to do the equivalent of closing two of its colleges.
It's just a fact that there is a business cycle, and if you cut taxes every time it's high and cut services every time it's low, then at some point things are going to get very ugly. I think that we are on the edge of this in Louisiana, and in fact would be over the cliff were it not for Federal welfare programs such as Social Security and Medicare putting money in middle class hands.
Faced with the recent darkness descending upon Québec, I thought it my duty to try to sum up as simply as possible the reasons that make me think that we must resist Bill 78.
1. Individual rights are a fundamental institutional defence protecting citizens from abuses of State power.
2. Even democratically elected representatives can abuse their powers.
3. In a democracy, the rights of association, expression, and protest are utterly fundamental.
4. It must be recognized that all citizens have these rights, especially those who, in a mode that respects democratic and liberal norms, hold points of view that are dissident and unpopular.
5. The fundamental character of these rights requires that they not be circumscribed or limited, except with great parsimony.
6. The present situation in Québec does not call for the sort of draconian limitations that have been imposed by the Liberal government in the form of its odious and shameful Bill 78. By its refusal to democratically engage with the student movement, the government has contributed to the degradation of the social climate. The disturbances that have made themselves felt in this climate, caused in part by the government, can be handled by existing legal institutions, including the criminal code.
7. Whether you agree with them or not on the question of the tuition fee hike, the students’ questions are legitimate and deserve a respectful response.
In light of recent discussion on "work for hire" contracts (here and here), a generous reader calls our attention to how The University of Michigan "supports the goal of having its faculty maintain core intellectual property rights when their scholarly works are published." See the University of Michigan Author's Addendum. You may view an explanation of how the Addendum works here.
Nice Slate story HERE on how excessive copyright enforcement killed a whole genre of art.
The rich sonic landscape of Paul's Boutique is produced by layering and repeating of over 300 unique samples. But in 1991 the outcome of Grand Upright Music v. Warner Bros. Records was that it became prohibitively expensive to do this, killing the artform. The Slate article concludes:
Even as hip-hop is more mainstream than ever, one of the key musical innovations has been pushed to the margins. That should serve as a reminder that the battles over intellectual property don’t merely pit the economic interests of creators against would-be freeloading consumers. The existing stock of recorded music is, potentially, a powerful tool in the hands of musicians looking to create new works. But it’s been largely cut off from them—for no good reason. Congress could enact a mandatory licensing scheme in which you pay a modest fixed fee to sample an existing recording for commercial purposes. Or it could create a legislative safe harbor, stipulating that samples under some set length automatically qualify as a fair use. But it won’t, because in the music and movie industries, the only kind of copyright laws Congress is willing to pass are ones that give more power to copyright holders, not less.
My theory, which belongs to me, and is mine, is that Schaefer Riley is *trying* to get fired, so she can drive up her lecture fee on the “woe is me, the liberals have deprived me of my First Amendment rights” circuit as well as ditch the Chronicle for the greener pastures of Fox News.
Having been non-tenure track for two years after getting my Ph.D, I actually began to perspire about half way through reading THIS ARTICLE. The author presents ten ways to get yourself fired if you are contingent faculty. Of course some of them contradict each other, but these contradictions just accurately represent the messed up situation.
In addition, ther whole exercise vaguely reeks of Kremlinology. Just as the CIA really had no idea what the various cliques surrounding Andropov were up to, there's something essentially mysterious about people with arbitrary power over you.
The full story is actually even more depressing, the obscenely wealthy using purported education reform to gin up the power of the huge vacuum cleaner that sucks up money from the poor and middle class.
We've known how this story ends since the 1980s, but as far as I can tell no one seems to be able to turn the damned thing off.
Kevin Smith, an attorney and academic librarian who is Duke's Scholarly Communications Officer, offers three reasons why OUP's insertion of "work for hire" language, which vests authorship with OUP rather than with the real author (previously discussed here and here at New APPS, following up on the initiative of Steven Shaviro) is likely to backfire.
First, nothing is more surely designed to make faculty authors angry than to tell them they are not the authors of the scholarship they offer to publishers. As a group, faculty authors have been pretty docile toward publishers for a long time, but foolish and tone-deaf moves by publishers have begun to stir faculty anger toward presses they once considered friends and colleagues. If a claim like this, which denies the fundamental dignity of authorship to scholars, becomes widespread, that slow rebellion will speed up very quickly.
We previously discussed Steven Shaviro's Jan 11 post in which he expressed his dismay at discovering that OUP had inserted "work for hire" language in his author's contract. Gordon Hull's comments here and at Shaviro's blog were particularly acute, explaining how "work for hire" differs from standard contracts: usually, an author retains various rights of ownership, re-use (e.g., in a later single-authored work), and distribution (e.g. private web archive), and allocates a limited set of rights pertaining to copyright to the press. However, with "work for hire" the author has no rights, as the press claims copyright from the start.
Here Shaviro reports on the developments. More below the fold, but in brief, he will not sign the contract, will not submit his work, will not write for OUP in the future, and will not buy OUP books until the "work for hire" language is dropped from OUP contracts, on the grounds that such contracts spell the end of our status as scholars freely contributing to ongoing discussion in the public interest and its replacement with the status of "knowledge worker" producing privately owned "content."
Recently there has been a great deal of discussion on this blog (and elsewhere) about Clark Glymour’s attack on philosophy where it does not either (a) engage with problems that scientists (would care about but) have not perceived, or (b) bring in at least a dribble of grant money. The idea, I suppose, is that philosophy has no autonomous value. I strongly disagree with Glymour’s implication, though I certainly agree that in certain circles there is a tendency to circulate dirty laundry (a practice that Glymour quaintly calls “incestuous”).
Now one of the reasons I find philosophy valuable is that it makes genuine progress. Of course, detractors say the exact opposite, but look at the record.
UCD is one of several contested fronts in a much wider campaign against the marketization of higher education. As participants in this campaign, we pledge to suspend all professional association with UCD until Chancellor Katehi quits her post.
Dave Zirin unearths a connection between UC Davis Chancellor Katehi and Penn State ex-President Spanier via the "securitization" of FBI and University relations:
The names Spanier and Katehi are now synonymous with the worst abuses of institutional power. But their connection didn’t begin there. In 2010, Spanier chose Katehi to join an elite team of 20 college Presidents on what’s called the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, which “promotes discussion and outreach between research universities and the FBI."
Spanier said upon the group’s founding in 2005, “The National Security Higher Education Advisory Board promises to help universities and government work toward a balanced and rational approach that will allow scientific research and education to progress and our nation to remain safe.” He also said that the partnership could help provide “internships” to faculty and students interested in “National Security issues.”
Read the whole thing. Then go read this on Katehi's role in ending University asylum rules in Greece that restricted the ability of police to enter university campuses. These became inconvenient when facing anti-austerity protests. Luckily enough for Katehi, she had her own police force, who didn't need no stinkin' badges.
[UPDATE: 5:30 pm CST, 23 Nov: A new draft is available here.]
The following is a draft of a resolution I will introduce to my Faculty Senate early next month. Please attach comments below, or email them to me here. Please feel free to adopt this draft and send it to your own Faculty Senate. [comment in brackets represent additions to the original; strike through comments are suggested deletions from the original].
Whereas the theory and practice of nonviolent civil disobedience is one of the great moral achievements of the past 200 years,
Whereas its theory was developed by some of our greatest thinkers, from Thoreau to Tolstoy to Gandhi to King,
Whereas its practice was used by hundreds of thousands of brave but otherwise ordinary people during our history,
Whereas in particular the use of nonviolent civil disobedience was an essential part of the movements for women’s suffrage and for African-American civil rights which have that changed the structure of American society forever,
We want to update readers on developments at McGill since our last post.
We have a clearer, but not yet complete picture of the chain of events that led to the riot police using pepper spray, truncheons, and tear gas to clear students from the square in front of the James Administration Building on Thursday, November 10. We know that campus security officers – who have no policing powers – manhandled several of the 14 students who occupied the office of Heather Munroe-Blum, and that it was the communication of this mistreatment via cell phone that swelled the crowd of students who gathered in front of the building (and occupied one of the lower floors). We also know that it was security who initially called police.
What remains opaque is the decision to clear the student gathering. We do not know whether the Montreal police officers who were inside James ordered the crowd cleared on their own, or whether they consulted with McGill security or administration. Nonetheless, we know that after approximately twenty bicycle police arrived to disperse the crowd, and the crowd did not budge, at least one officer used pepper spray on the front ranks of the students. This is the same pattern we have seen play out so often of late: a large group of nonviolent protesters, or a few among them, refuse to obey a police order to disperse, and the first police recourse is to inflict pain in order to gain compliance.
There will be an official investigation, of course. It will be an internal investigation headed by the Dean of the Law Faculty. It will assign no blame. It will be a mix of fact-finding and suggestions to prevent a recurrence. We can hope that it will teach us more about what happened. We cannot hope, however, that it will shed any light on the meaning of what has happened. We would like to focus on this latter task.
"people should be assisted when they are afraid. Because I believe that in showing compassion we embrace a nonviolent way of life that emanates to those whom we refuse to see as enemies and in turn leads to the change that we all seek."
Kristin Stoneking explains why. Rev. Stoneking is the Campus Minister at UC Davis.
Please email Matthew Smith at Yale's Philosophy Department if you wish to co-sign his excellent Open Letter. He is looking for a publication venue. His email: firstname.lastname@example.org. A link to the letter is here. You may wish to email the link to the letter to your university adminstrators. Our thanks should go to Smith for his leadership here.
We therefore call on chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges throughout the United States to declare publicly that their campuses are Safe Protest Zones, where nonviolent, public political dissent and protest will be protected by university police and will never be attacked by the university police.
We call on these chancellors and presidents to commit publicly to making their campuses safe locations for peaceful public assembly.
We call on these chancellors and presidents to institute immediately policies that reflect these commitments, and to instruct their police and security forces that they must abide by these policies.
Nathan Brown provides harrowing descriptions of the outrageous actions in the form of an Open Letter. The UC system is engaged in a frontal assault on academic freedom using police brutality as their preferred tactic.
Please read the letter and then contact Chancellor Katehi. My message was simple: "Your actions are despicable. If you were capable of shame you would have resigned by now."
Contact California Governor Brown here. Contact the UC Davis police at 1-530-752-1727. Excerpts from Brown's Open Letter:
Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi
Today [Friday, 18 Nov] you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday.... These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.
Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.
This is an odd story, Dear Reader, and I beg your indulgence to tell it my way.
A few days ago, I got an email from Kevin McDonough of McGill University, directing my attention to a statement about academic freedom by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC)—a body that serves (among other things) as a college of university presidents. Reading through the AUCC statement quickly, I found it fairly anodyne. But I was about to be educated.
On November 10 – last Thursday – approximately 100 riot police from the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) marched onto the campus of McGill University, beating billy-clubs against shields. They did so in order to drive student protesters gathered in front of the James Administration Building off of their own campus. In the process, they pepper-sprayed, clubbed, and tear-gassed hundreds of students and at least one faculty member (philosopher Greg Mikkelson, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, on his way to pick his kids up from daycare). These events have sent shock-waves through the University community. Not since March 1969, when the “Opération McGill français” brought 15,000 nationalist protesters to the gates of McGill, had riot police been on the campus of the University. This time, it didn’t require external intervention: the administration of McGill seems to have called the cops on its own students.
The great blogger, Aaron Bady at zunguzungu, analyzes a particularly loathsome piece of Newspeak by Cal Berkeley admins. The rest of the post is superb, moving from personal experience to historical context to rhetorical analysis. This part of the analysis is particularly incisive. The first graf is from the admins; the rest is Bady.
It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms and forming a human chain to prevent the police from gaining access to the tents. This is not non-violent civil disobedience. By contrast, some of the protesters chose to be arrested peacefully; they were told to leave their tents, informed that they would be arrested if they did not, and indicated their intention to be arrested. They did not resist arrest or try physically to obstruct the police officers’ efforts to remove the tent. These protesters were acting in the tradition of peaceful civil disobedience, and we honor them.
What he describes — occupying space in a way that nonviolently prevents the police from doing what they want — is actually the very definition of “non-violent civil disobedience.” On the one hand, it is utterly non-violent: linking arms and holding on to each other as the police try to knock you apart is not “violent” but is precisely the opposite. It is the endurance of violence. And second, it is civil disobedience, again, precisely by definition. They were disobeying civil authorities, obeying the authority of their own consciences and solidarity instead.
I have a friend who is a PhD student in Philosophy at a fairly known but not élite, large American university. She has been experiencing any number of forms of harassment, either from senior male professors more or less coming onto her, or fellow graduate students of a more 'fundamentalist' persuasion (yes, in the most common understanding of that term) being aggressive, at times borderline physically aggressive, or other faculty making jokes relating to her appearance.
The question is, where should she go for help (or less dramatically, 'support', 'advice', 'discussion')? I have stopped reading Leiter's blog a while ago and never was a frequent visitor to it (but I must say it is there I learned, sometime last year, of the astounding and shocking 'What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?' blog and its collection of tales, which has since been discussed here too). So, there is that blog, there is our own. Any other suggestions?
(I had asked, of course, if there were supportive female or male faculty members she could talk to, or graduate students with comparable experiences who might have developed 'survival strategies'; it's not clear if that is the case. I had also suggested she tell her story anonymously here or elsewhere, to shame the relevant parties - here the senior staff is probably more the issue - but she pointed out that they most likely are unaware of these blogs.) Thanks for your 2 cents.
I was chatting with my friend, Jim Brown, the distinguished philosopher of science, about the possible involvement of the publishers in the Synthese affair. He told me the following story about an unpleasant encounter with Elsevier:
I can well believe that the publishers played a major role and perhaps bullied editors who aren't used to dealing with such issues.
I had a run in with Elsevier a few years ago. A paper of mine was accepted for a special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, it was copyedited, etc and ready to go. Suddenly the publisher intervened and suspended the issue. Their lawyer had demanded several changes in my article, saying it was libellous. (It was about the pharmaceutical industry and the corruption of research.) After much back and forth, eventually I agreed to make the changes provided I could add a paragraph saying I had done so. Surprisingly, they initially agreed, then later then said they wanted several more changes. This was after delaying the special issue for more than a year. Some of the changes they wanted were ridiculous, for instance, they wouldn't let me quote from an article already published in the British Medical Journal. Eventually I withdrew the article rather that submit to the censorship. I'm still annoyed.
I feel certain that even those people who thought that the Synthese affair was driven by an North American political agenda will find it hard to condone Elsevier's behaviour above. I think we can say that there is now a trickle of stories of misconduct by commercially published journals.
Is it not time that we gave some thought to this matter as a community?
Blah, blah, blah private company blah blah more efficient blah blah of course the academics will run the academic side blah blah, trust us, honest, the academics will run their part of the show blah blah, er, wait a minute, what the hell does this last graf say?
BPP is part of the Apollo Group, a market-listed US company that owns the University of Phoenix, a private institution offering degrees through distance learning.