Author: Michael

The Academic Workplace Is Not a Place For Students to Give Up

The Academic Workplace Is Not a Place For Students to Give Up

Letters to the Editor: How UC has exploited the student academic workers on strike (3)

The recent strike of academic workers on the UC system has inspired a great deal of social and political debate. Although this action has been a good thing, in the sense that it has pointed to the many shortcomings of the academic workplace, several things need to be said.

First, it is absolutely true that academic workers do not have the power to make any changes to the system (except by writing a letter to the Governor or the Board of Regents). Many people argue that academic workers are underrepresented in the system and not in positions of power, especially in the higher education level. This argument does not seem to be convincing. The problem, in fact, is that academic workers are not well-represented in leadership positions. Only 15% of the academic workers on UC have an executive or faculty rank. The average tenure is nine years and academic workers do not have tenure in many cases. A good example of this is the recent strike of professors and adjunct professors, whose first strike in 15 years was on April 2-4 in Oakland. In that strike there were 2,500 workers. Of these, only 35% were rank-and-file union members and only 18% served as members of the Academic Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). A good example of academic workers’ underrepresentation in leadership positions is that of the President of the Academic Senate, Robert M. Lipsitt. As an example, Lipsitt was a vice president of Academic Affairs at the time of the first strike. But as a professor, he was serving as a vice president of the Academic Senate and did not belong to any union.

Second, the UC system needs to do a better job in educating students and giving them the tools to understand and fight the system. The academic workplace is not a place that can be understood by a student. Its conditions and policies are far from ideal. But that should not be a reason for students to give up. Many students in our college have been forced to drop out because they cannot afford the fees to go to school here. Many have not received the right to go to college here because of the financial crisis facing

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