I am heartened by the expression of approval voiced by last Friday’s editorial for the principles upon which GESO stands (“For GESO, medium distorts the message,” 2/4). Naturally, any democratically run organization will encounter difficulty convincing everyone in a given community of both its methods and motives. That, after all, is the nature of democracy — people disagree on details, and they work out their differences through discussion. It seems, however, that a broad consensus already dominates campus that the devaluing of graduate teaching, the stagnating levels of diversity among senior faculty, and the chronic casualization of academic labor constitute serious problems in need of solutions. The question then becomes, how does this community find such solutions?
I am convinced that a collective movement toward unionization by all the individuals being cheated by the current system’s deficiencies is thenlyeo reverse the damage to higher education.That means everyone: senior faculty, whose real administrative influence has steadily eroded over the past three decades; junior faculty, who’ve lost the job security necessary to produce truly pioneering work; undergraduates, who receive their education increasingly from temporary, part-time, or graduate instructors rather than senior professors; and those instructors, who today face the prospect of training for nearly a decade only to be shunted into a series of marginal jobs that barely pay more than their grad-school stipends, particularly if they are women or people of color.
Yale is not a demon, but a corporation, and corporations only institute serious change under two circumstances: in the face declining profits, or when made to change by law. Graduate teacher unions have a proven track record on other campuses of enforcing equitable law to everyone’s benefit. It’s time for Yale to benefit too, and until someone suggests a comparably comprehensive solution, this is the only one on the table.
David Huyssen GRD ’10
Feb. 8, 2005
The writer is an organizer for GESO.