Middlesex: RIP Academic Freedom, we harldy knew ye…..

An unfortunate turn of events at Middlesex.  From the campaign site:

Some Middlesex University Philosophy students, along with Philosophy professors Peter Osborne and Peter Hallward, were suspended from the University this afternoon. Hallward and Osborne were issued with letters announcing their suspension from the University with immediate effect, pending investigation into their involvement in the recent campus occupations. The suspension notice blocks them from entering University premises or contacting in any way University students and employees without the permission of Dean Ed Esche (e.esche@mdx.ac.uk) or a member of the University’s Executive.

Seems a bit “thugish” to me.  Panic abounds, it would seem.

Diploma Mills

Here’s an excerpt from an interesting interview with Barmak Nassarian, associate executive director for external relations and a lobbyist with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), from Frontline’s “College, Inc.” program.  The section on loan defaults –also discussed in the Barron’s article I posted yesterday–is particularly revealing, I think.  In what follows, Nassarian is discussing quality and regulation.

Q: So we’re in the middle of a recession. Record demand for postsecondary education, am I right? And just the massive growth of for-profits. I mean, those would be the sort of saving features of what we’re seeing now.

Well, there’s one important additional dimension that makes all of that toxic, which I have a hard time communicating to people without being a little sort of colorful.

We live in a society that most transactions for goods and services involve the profit motive, and we’re used to that. There’s nothing wrong with it. But we’re also living in an advanced post-industrialist society where there are fundamental assumptions about consumer protection that we all walk around with. I walked into this room without examining the building, without any engineering drawings, on the assumptions that surely it was somebody’s job to make sure it’s not going to collapse on my head, despite the fact that it might have been built by a for-profit builder who might have had profit maximization as their primary incentive. Continue reading

The Universities In Trouble

UPDATE II: Marc Bousquet follows up his critique of Marc C. Taylor on The Valve. 

UPDATE: Apparently everyone is hastening to announce the end of the university as we know it (will we feel fine?)

Interesting review from NY Review of Books

Since the financial meltdown began to accelerate last summer, the world has changed utterly for colleges and universities just as it has for everyone who had not been stashing cash under the mattress. Along with failing banks, auto manufacturers, and insurance companies, universities have been making headlines—especially those whose gigantic endowments (Harvard’s was approaching $40 billion before the crash) have sharply declined. Last year, politicians and pundits were complaining about the unseemly wealth of such institutions. This year, alumni are getting e-mails from beleaguered presidents assuring them that Alma Mater will somehow ride out the storm.

Read the rest.

David Harvey On Financial Crisis in Red Pepper

David Harvey talks about the financial crisis in April/May issue of Red Pepper

What happened in the US was that eight men gave us a three-page document, which pointed a gun at everybody and said ‘give us $700 billion or else’. This to me was like a financial coup against the government and the population of the US. Which means you’re not going to come out of this crisis with a crisis of the capitalist class; you’re going to come out of this with a far greater consolidation of the capitalist class than there has been in the past. We’re going to end up with four or five major banking institutions in the United States and nothing else.

Read the whole thing.

(Newish) Badiou on Financial Crisis

From Le Monde, via Infinite Thought (translated into English), to us: 

Telle qu’on nous la présente, la crise planétaire de la finance ressemble à un de ces mauvais films concoctés par l’usine à succès préformés qu’on appelle aujourd’hui le “cinéma”. Continue in French.

As it is presented to us, the planetary financial crisis resembles one of those bad films concocted by that factory for the production of pre-packaged blockbusters that today we call the “cinema”. Continue in English.

Žižek On Financial Crisis

For what it’s worth, Žižek discusses the financial crisis in the London Review of Books:

There is a close similarity between the speeches George W. Bush has given since the crisis began and his addresses to the American people after 9/11. Both times, he evoked the threat to the American way of life and the necessity of fast and decisive action to cope with the danger. Both times, he called for the partial suspension of American values (guarantees of individual freedom, market capitalism) in order to save the same values.

Faced with a disaster over which we have no real influence, people will often say, stupidly, ‘Don’t just talk, do something!’ Perhaps, lately, we have been doing too much. Maybe it is time to step back, think and say the right thing. True, we often talk about doing something instead of actually doing it – but sometimes we do things in order to avoid talking and thinking about them. Like quickly throwing $700 billion at a problem instead of reflecting on how it came about.

Financial Crisis and Higher Education

A bit of a bombastic title for this post, but should do for now – so my university, a large private school with plenty of endowment money, is not going to proceed with any of the next year’s faculty searches. I don’t think it’s a matter of saving money, but simply a precaution, a sort of “let’s wait this one out” approach – merit-based salary raises are still scheduled to take place, promotions etc etc, it’s just new hires – I wonder what’s the situash out there where you might be? I should probably go read me some Chronicle of Higher Education, but I’m lazy. Not being an economist or good with numbers, I wonder how the present and looming crises might affect the higher education.  Does that mean that whoever’s going on the market this year is going to see the decrease in openings?

John McCain Goes To Washington: The Great Undecider!

Ok, so just took a quick look at how the economy is going and how the great McCain is saving us all from the crisis – I mean he’s there in DC doing his thing and all – New York Times reports:

“We’re in a serious economic crisis,” Mr. Bush told reporters as the meeting began shortly before 4 p.m. in the Cabinet Room, adding, “My hope is we can reach an agreement very shortly.”

But once the doors closed, the smooth-talking House Republican leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, surprised many in the room by declaring that his caucus could not support the plan to allow the government to buy distressed mortgage assets from ailing financial companies.

Mr. Boehner pressed an alternative that involved a smaller role for the government, and Mr. McCain, whose support of the deal is critical if fellow Republicans are to sign on, declined to take a stand.

Come again? Yes, you’ve read it right – let me repeat it – “…and Mr. McCain, whose support of the deal is critical if fellow Republicans are to sign on, DECLINED TO TAKE A STAND.” This is what I am talking about! Is it just me or is this election just about the best thing ever?