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November 22, 2005

Labor Studies Under Attack

In a country of shining multi-million dollar business schools in almost every major university in the country, one of the silliest rightwing campaigns is complaints that conservatives are oppressed and somehow have no support for their rightwing views on campuses-- leading folks like David Horowitz to propose an Academic Bill of Rights.

Right now, the handful of labor centers around the country are under total assault. In California, Schwartzenneger vetoed all funding for the University of California Center for Labor Research and Education and the campuses have only been able to find alternative resources for a third of the original budget. As the Center leadership emphasizes:

Without any review, justification, or explanation, the governor has reached into the University of California’s budget to single out an academically-created program for elimination. This dangerous precedent allows a governor to defund any university programs that he does not support.
Where is the conservative outrage over this selective assault on one area of academic inquiry. There is none.

And at the University of Massachusetts, the administration has slashed the budget of the Labor Studies department and ended an ongoing search for a new professor:

. “No other department has been treated this way,” said Labor Studies Professor Stephanie Luce. “We are being singled out for attack because of our political activity on behalf of workers’ rights on campus and around the world.”
Business schools can create joint programs with corporate America, biology departments create joint ventures with biotech, but if labor departments cooperate with labor unions on any endeavors, they are shut down without even a peep of protest from the rightwing "guardians of academic freedom."

Of course, it's all a farce. Yes, many humanities professors are liberal, but the economic powerhouse departments on campuses, from business schools to corporatized science departments largely live these days to serve the corporate interests of business America. And the tiny handful of academic programs desgined to serve the needs of working people in the United States are under total assault.

That's the reality of academia circa 2005.

Posted by Nathan at November 22, 2005 10:54 AM