Volume 95, Issue 84

Wednesday, March 13, 2002
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Shame on you!

Fill me up real good

Universities going corporate

Universities going corporate

Caught looking
Jessica Leader
News Editor

I'm not sure how I feel about my kids attending a McUniversity.

Recently, universities began a frenzy of fat-trimming.

Faculty at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia are taking issue with the university's part-time faculty hiring policies and ripples of their complaints can be heard across the country.

At Western, part-time faculty have staged various protests and info-sessions throughout the year to spread word about the perceived injustices of what they frame as exploitative work.

What is materializing in the wake of various ill-calculated maneuvers by universities is an image reminiscent of what Naomi Klein, in her book No Logo, calls McJobs.

McJobs are unstable, low-paid, non-unionized jobs that leave workers with few rights or means of negotiating with their employers.

McUniversities are just their high-class counterparts.

Increasingly, universities seem to lack clarity and vision. Through their policy decisions, whether it be raising tutition or supporting the erosion of a full-time faculty base, they are opting not to show respect for the elements that breathe life into their institutional corporations.

At Dalhousie, part-time faculty members do not possess any right to sit on committees that make management-related decisions. They do not have benefits. They are not unionized. They are not obligated to hold office hours. They are not paid for research.

At Western, when part-timers are paid, it is by the hour and only when they are needed.

Not surprisingly, Dal is reportedly having trouble attracting faculty. In turn, their offerings to potential students threaten to become scant.

In this, the math is simple – as tuition fees rise, the bang for the twenty-first century buck shrinks.

Universities are making it tougher to get your money's worth in the new age – buyer moral and complacency could be the next to disappear.

In its entirety, the viscous cycle feeds off the times. We have catapulted ourselves into an era of globalization in which the inflationary, insatiable drive to accumulate excessive and extravagant amounts of capital is a whim away from spinning out of control.

Employers interested in increasing profit potential are turning a blind eye to the trickle-down implications of their decisions.

Universities that are comfortable stocking their institutions with part-time faculty are no better than global corporations who have mastered the art of extracting outrageous amounts of money from consumers through exploitative practices.

Both industries have a dangerous affinity for temporary workers and big price tags. Both are creating a solid opposition among those who are tired of being duped by profit-seeking money mongers.

The McUniversities of the future are in position to be the artists of the new age.

But even art has a price.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002