The More Things Change, Part 2: The Carbondale 104

Posted: November 8, 2011 in Context
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

You may have heard mention of an infamous incident in SIUC’s history related to another administration’s lack of respect for its faculty and tenure. Some aspects of this incident sound awfully familiar:

“This is a very grim and unfortunate thing that no one on this campus wanted,” said Southern Illinois University President David R. Derge. It is just about the only statement that has been made recently on the Carbondale, Ill., campus with which everyone can agree. The event that Derge referred to: as a result of a budget cut, the university fired 104 faculty and staff members and then, in a move that at first glance seemed to add insult to injury, immediately filed a class-action suit against six of the dismissed teachers.

Source: Time Magazine. (The full article requires a subscription, but those of you who haven’t had your ID blocked can access it for free through Morris Library’s website.)

Hardest hit by the firings, which included 64 faculty members and 40 professional staff members and program directors, were the humanities–English, philosophy and history.

[Assistant Professor of English Robert] Harrell contends that this is part of a general restructuring of SIU away from the humanities and into a technically oriented vocational school to serve industry.

Source: Tthe Milwaukee Journal.

Nicknamed “The Carbondale 104”, the fired professors and their colleagues fought back, eventually restoring tenure protections. Some of those fired were reinstated, but the administration’s decision led to a lingering climate of distrust that affects SIUC to this day.

  1. Cathy Talbott says:

    This is exactly to the point. “This IS part of a general restructuring of SIU away from the humanities and into a technically oriented vocational school to serve industry.” And this trend along with the labor replacing technology that is rapidly spreading through all industries and the service sectors is underlying the political move to a fascist state. We must expand the resistance to include all affected members of this new class being created by the new means of production, the unemployed, part-time minimum wage workers, contingent workers, and those who have been cast out of the system permanently. It is truly in the striking members’ interests to raise the slogan “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

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