Southern Illinois University’s faculty strike gets a mention in The Indypendent <http://www.indypendent.org>, the newspaper of the nyc independent media center.

But despite the hesitancy of most union officials to match their rhetoric with action, there are unmistakable signs of a new fighting mood among the rank and file in many unions. Southern Illinois University faculty went on strike November 3 in a battle over the “corporate education” model, among other issues.

http://www.indypendent.org/2011/11/17/the-unions-weigh-in-for-occupy/

Faculty strike but classes will be conducted as usual? Sure sounds familiar. A shout out in solidarity to the striking SJSU faculty from those of us at OccupySIUC!

The California Faculty Association, a bargaining unit representing all CSU faculty members, is planning to stage a one-day strike at CSU East Bay and CSU Dominguez Hills on Nov. 17. Some SJSU faculty members plan to participate in the CSUEB event.

How will this impact SJSU?

The CSU Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach conducts labor negotiations for all 23 campuses. Meanwhile, here at SJSU, we remain focused on our primary mission, teaching our nearly 30,000 students.

While it is difficult to predict with certainty, the one-day strike is expected to lightly impact San Jose State. Campus will remain open, and most classes will be conducted as usual.

http://blogs.sjsu.edu/today/2011/classes-in-session-during-informational-picketing-nov-9/

A shout out of solidarity to striking Cal State Faculty from those of us here at OccupySIUC!

Cal State Faculty Strike For First Time Ever

“We are tired of the chancellor using staff and students as ATM machines,” said strike organizer

Hundreds of California State University faculty took an historic step Thursday, staging the first strike in faculty union history. The action took place at the Dominguez Hills and East Bay campuses.

By late morning, 300 to 400 people showed up, some by the busloads, according to Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, which represents 24,000 faculty members across CSU’s 23 campuses.

Taiz called the one-day strike a major step in what has been a contentious battle with the CSU Board of Trustees over pay raises.

“This is the very first time we have gone on strike since the faculty got collective bargaining rights in 1983,” said Taiz, who stopped mid-sentence to cheer for a marching band that had showed up at Dominguez Hills to offer support.

“This is amazing,” Taiz said. “The turnout has exceeded my wildest dreams.”

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Cal-State-Faculty-CSU-Strike-Teachers-Students-Budget-First-Time-Salary-134059083.html

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/dg161111.html

[Edit: Jason Del Gandio is an alum of SIUC. He’s done significant scholarly work in the rhetoric of activism.]

Occupy Your Education:
A Note to Students about Changing the World
by Jason Del Gandio

The current Occupy Movement has captured people’s imagination and refocused the national discussion on issues of economic injustice, social stratification, and corruptions of American democracy. Contrary to what some people might think, the Occupy Movement is not composed solely of “young, idealistic college kids.” People of many different ages, ethnicities, and ideological persuasions are involved. But there is no doubt that many — but surely not all — Occupy participants attend, will attend, or have attended college. This raises an interesting question: What role does higher education play in the formation of the Occupy Movement and/or social movements in general? I want to specifically address current and future students: Should your college education help you organize and participate in social movements? Should your college experience help you become an agent of social change? What is and what can be the relationship between higher education and attempts to change the world?

At first glance there appears to be no inherent connection between a college education and social justice. Universities are organized around different areas of study, many of which have nothing to do with social movements. While sociology and political science departments might offer courses in gender inequities and/or transnational global movements, math and science do not. Other departments — like business and marketing — might actually resist or ignore such social/political issues. While some schools do cater to issues of justice, democracy, and political transformation, this is neither common nor obligatory. College is about education rather than radical social change.

This is not to ignore the rich history of campus activism: the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Students for a Democratic Society, and the whole anti-Vietnam War era; the Latin American solidarity work and the Campus Outreach Opportunity League of the 1980s; the United Students Against Sweatshops that began in 1997; the Campus Antiwar Network and the New SDS of the mid-2000s; California’s statewide protests against cuts to education in 2009 and 2010; and the current call to Occupy Colleges (OccupyColleges.org).

Read the rest of this entry »

Occupy together.

Posted: November 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

Reposting this from a few days ago, in hopes that the momentum will continue:

The SIUC FA strike is not the only resistance movement happening in Carbondale right now.

Occupy Carbondale has been holding a space on SIUC campus for over 3 weeks now 24/7. Individuals and classes come by often to discuss the Occupy Movement with us. Several occupiers have spoken in classes on campus. We have done teach-ins on Buckminster Fuller, Lakoff’s ideas on framing, and nonviolence. We have helped the Beyond Coal campaign with a petition drive. We march with the Southern IL Peace coalition. We have started Occupy Hunger Southern Illinois. We are currently supporting the Faculty Association in its strike. We held a public showing “V for Vendetta.” We are a hub for activism and democratic disussion in Southern Illinois. If you would like to see us do more things (or different things), JOIN US!!!!! You can participate in person or online. All are welcome.

Occupy Carbondale website
Occupy Carbondale facebook page.

Meanwhile in Little Egypt, Part 4

Posted: November 10, 2011 in Art

Question: Randy, can you explain why the concept of tenure is so important to teachers in universities? I understand somewhat its origins in the 60s and 70s and the desire of teachers to speak freely, but what makes teachers different than other professions?

Answer: Tenure is much older than the 60s or 70s. It goes back to the teens. The troubles began in the 1890s when college faculty members were routinely fired for advocating unpopular (often new, often true) ideas. There were a number of cases, such as Sheldon who was fired from Boston University for unpopular views on the Bible, and culminating in a series of cases in the teens. The American Association of University Professors formed to advocate the value to a free society of protections for persons who were likely to be generating ideas that were uncomfortable to those benefiting from the status quo. The institution of tenure was devised to protect academic freedom. It isn’t a perfect plan, far from it. But a free society requires some ways of safe-guarding the free flow of ideas among those who have earned the right through diligence, productivity, loyalty to their institutions and students, to enjoy some protection for speaking the truth as they see it. That protection now traditionally belongs to tenured university and college faculty members, among whom I am to be counted. Assuming I live a morally acceptable life beyond the academy, and that I perform my assigned duties, I can express my opinions within my discipline without fear of reprisal for their being controversial, or threatening to the beneficiaries of current received opinion, or even if those views are radically out of line with what is now regarded as knowledge. Knowing me as you do, it may not surprise you to learn that I say unpopular things that could get me fired if I were not protected, but I do not say them to stand out; I say what I honestly believe, and I expect to have those views tolerated and never censored. I have earned the right to this protection, and unlike most people, I earned it twice, at different institutions. I do not take my speech lightly, and I intent to do whatever is within my power to insure that people like me, who have earned this kind of protection, are still able to speak their minds without fear of petty or unjustified reprisal, in the future. As Sarah says above, if they can stifle me in Illinois, at a public institution, they can much more easily stifle people in benighted places like Oklahoma. (I speak from extensive first-hand knowledge.) Our struggle here will have implications all over the nation. Illinois has the best labor law in the country, from a worker’s point of view. If we can’t protect tenure, no one can. You asked.

Kristi Brownfield of GA United read a powerful statement in defense of free speech at SIUC at this morning’s open forum with the Board of Trustees. It concludes:

This administration seems more interested in power than people. Any policies that protect the established power of the status quo over the expressive power of a free people are policies that must be overturned. The students here recognize that. It was our voices inside the Student Center, outside of Anthony Hall and the Stone Center, throughout campus, on Facebook, and online — calling for accountability, fairness, and transparency. That is what we want from this university. That is not what we have been getting. We expect better and in the future we hope to work with the administration to ensure we get that better. Together we can heal this damage to create a better SIUC for today and tomorrow.

Read the full statement at GA United’s blog.

From a faculty member:

WBEZ, the NPR station in Chicago, ran a story today about Joe Paterno and Penn State. They have yet to run a story about SIU and the strike. So, I wrote this in response to them:

Hey, WBEZ, the last time I checked, Penn State was in Pennsylvania. Southern Illinois University is in Illinois and a majority the students at SIU are from Chicago. (How many Chicagoans are at Penn State?)

SIU had a week-long faculty strike, the first in the school’s history, and hundreds (some say thousands) of students, in three separate marches, on three different days, marched beside the striking faculty. What else happened? The university censored its Facebook page and then blocked anyone who wrote anything that challenged the Administration. Striking faculty were electronically shut out of their emails, and online sites that contained their course materials. And the administration fought furiously to undermine tenure and all that it means. But none of this is important, is it? Because it’s not about a football coach in another state. Shame on you, WBEZ. Here’s a site where you can begin your journey to southern part of the state. https://occupysiuc.wordpress.com/

The media should be reporting on the powerful actions by the students of SIUC. Let’s pressure them to do so.

While waiting for the official announcement and terms of the tentative agreement between the SIUC Board of Trustees and the FA, we’ll be posting some material that we gathered during the strike that was pushed aside because of breaking news.

Student interview from November 4.