Throughout the summer, Canary has documented this ongoing crisis within universities and higher education. Now, as the new academic year gets underway, it appears that the recurring theme of chaos within British universities at the hands of incompetent senior management teams (SMT) will continue. The abhorrent treatment of staff and students at my home institution, Brighton University (UOB), is a prime example of this. In fact, students have started an occupation due to the situation. Across higher education, the University and College Union (UCU) has been fighting back against management imposing pay cuts, as well as the dire working conditions its members have to tolerate.
In the age of social media, with new platforms emerging seemingly every few months, high school newspapers are just one outlet where young people can share their voices and relay the stories of their lives. Yet student-run newsrooms play a profound and unique role not just in the school community, but also in the broader media ecosystem surrounding each campus. The power of student media is perhaps most obvious in cases where student-led newsrooms break major news. In 2017, The Booster Redux, the student-run newspaper at Pittsburg High in Pittsburg, Kansas, made national news when a simple profile on the school’s new principal led to an investigative story revealing that she had lied during the hiring process and attended an unaccredited university for her master’s and doctoral degrees. The principal resigned shortly after the students’ reporting garnered the attention of national news outlets. Just last May, reporters from The Classic, the award-winning student newspaper of Townsend Harris High School in Queens, New York, brought to light a sexual abuse scandal that went uncovered for years.
On Monday, August 21, hundreds of students at West Virginia University, the state’s flagship land-grant institution, walked out of their classrooms to protest the massive gutting of their university by its administration. Students wore red T-shirts and red bandanas around their necks, carried homemade signs with messages like “Stop the Gee-llotine” (a reference to WVU President E. Gordon Gee), played protest songs on fiddles and guitars, chanted “STOP THE CUTS!” and shouted impassioned speeches into megaphones. At issue was the administration’s proposal to fire 16 percent of the faculty and cut 9 percent of its undergraduate majors and twenty graduate programs in response to a projected $45 million shortfall over the next two years.
Postdoctoral researchers at New York City’s Mount Sinai hospital voted by 91 percent to authorize a strike. Left Voice interviewed Andrea Joseph, a first-year Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and member of the SPOC-UAW Bargaining Committee. Andrea spoke about how the negotiations are developing with the Mount Sinai administration, what the postdocs demands’ are for a strong contract, and what changes they expect to see from the administration. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Two unions are going public Tuesday at Virginia Tech, with a shared goal of creating a better working environment for graduate students, faculty and staff at the state university. It’s an effort that has been in the works for three years, as the groups have quietly recruited members while, across the country, campus labor unions have gained attention. On Tuesday, members of the United Campus Workers of Virginia Tech (UCW-VT) and the Virginia Tech Graduate Labor Union (VT GLU) will team up in a rally on the Blacksburg campus. They hope going public will attract new members and draw attention to their efforts to press university administrators for improvements for campus workers at all levels.
As a CUNY adjunct starting this semester without a contract, I am filled with anger, terror, and excitement — a mix of reactions I’ll try to explain here. My anger predates our current contract struggle. Having taught at various CUNY campuses over the past six years, I’m furious about adjuncts’ working conditions and the resulting student learning conditions. As underpaid, expendable, and often invisible employees, adjuncts, who teach the majority of classes at the university, often find out our schedules mere days — or even hours — before the semester begins, and we are therefore forced to throw together syllabuses and assignments at the last minute.
In late June, the Right won a decades-long fight to overturn affirmative action when the Supreme Court ruled, in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, that considering race in college admissions violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The case that ultimately landed before the court’s 6-3 right-wing majority was brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a conservative group that for years has challenged the admissions policies of schools like Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Across the country, conservatives cheered.
University of Pennsylvania students who work as residence hall assistants will hold a unionization vote this fall, the National Labor Relations Board decided this week. The decision rejects Penn’s claim that students aren’t employees and don’t have the right to form a union. About 220 student workers filed paperwork with the NLRB in March to join the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 153, which represents students in universities around the region. If the effort is successful, the union would be the first of its kind in the Philadelphia area. Students at other universities have formed unions in recent years following a 2016 NLRB ruling that allowed Columbia University graduate students to unionize.
Morgantown, West Virginia - West Virginia University students staged a walkout Monday to protest the proposed elimination of academic programs and show support for faculty and staff whose jobs are being targeted as the university addresses a $45 million budget shortfall. Separate midday rallies were organized by the West Virginia United Students' Union, which encouraged protesters to wear red. Organizers said they want to halt the university's planned reductions, seek an independent audit of its finances and reduced WVU's administrative spending.
The Blue Dog Coalition, a group of corporate House Democrats led by Rep. Jared Golden, received the maximum donation from student lending giant Sallie Mae after the Second District congressman voted earlier this year against Pres. Joe Biden’s plan to cancel $430 billion in federal student debt. The disclosure comes as student loan payments are set to resume after a three-year pause during the COVID-19 pandemic. Golden was one of two Democrats to vote in May with House Republicans for a resolution blocking the Biden administration’s plan for a one-time cancellation of up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers who qualified.
Student-youth groups in Ireland have condemned the housing crisis in the country as they are about to return to their colleges and universities this September for the new academic year. On Wednesday, August 16, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), along with housing support groups including Threshold, launched a ‘Scam Watch’ campaign against the exploitation of students by landlords and rent sharks. The USI also demanded legislation to control rents and provide affordable housing for students. Political parties like Sinn Fein accuse the coalition government under Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, and the Greens of totally failing the student renters and abandoning them in the grip of the housing crisis.
This episode of Nonviolence Radio welcomes @hellaJinsella from the UK peace organization, DeMilitarise Education, or dED. Jinsella has been actively working to raise awareness about the ties between higher education and the military. As these relationships have not generally been made public, military funding, and the accompanying environmental degradation the arms industry entails, has been able to thrive within universities without sustained challenge. DeMilitarise Education seeks to bring these connections to light. To this end, it has set up a database which tracks schools’ ties with the military and arms companies to be used as a tool to pressure the universities to break these damaging ties.
A recent NPR headline (7/24/23) declared: “Affirmative Action for Rich Kids: It’s More Than Just Legacy Admissions.” The accompanying story explained: “Affirmative action for minority kids may now be dead. But a blockbuster new study, released today, finds that, effectively, affirmative action for rich kids is alive and well.” Likewise, a Vox headline (7/25/23) reported that “Affirmative Action for White College Applicants Is Still Here.” A Daily podcast (7/27/23) from the New York Times is headlined “Affirmative Action for the 1 Percent,” explaining “just how much elite colleges admissions in the US systematically favor the rich and the superrich.” New York magazine’s Eric Levitz (7/25/23) wrote about “Why Elite Colleges Do Affirmative Action for the Rich.”
In spring of 2023, I taught a class on memoir at the California Institution for Women, a medium-security facility, in Chino. The course focused on autobiographical writing. Each week, students were asked to draft narratives focused on their life story and its larger social context. In addition to writers-in-custody at the prison, the class enrolled University of Southern California students. Every week, my colleague and I drove 12 USC undergraduates out to the prison to join their incarcerated peers in class. Both populations received college credit for their work. After the class ended, I received a thank-you note from one of our incarcerated students.
In a tremendous show of solidarity, union members and community supporters from across the state of Massachusetts and beyond came to support Northeastern University’s graduate student workers (GENU-UAW) in a “Mass Solidarity Rally for our Rights” as they prepare to vote YES for a union from September 19 to September 21. This union vote comes after eight years of obstruction, retaliation, and other forms of union-busting from the administration at Northeastern. It was noted that the Northeastern University Police Department (NUPD) was used to harass students for chalking activity and even specifically intimidated marginalized students in their labs.