Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Breaking the Chains of Debt and Contingent Labor (Debt Collective and Higher Education Labor United)

Join us on July 31 as we host a deep dive discussion into two related crises facing higher ed workers and students alike: debt and labor contingency. 

Often presented as both institutionally inevitable and as individually shameful, spiraling debt and rising labor precarity are in fact insidious products of policy decisions, and together they are eroding the conditions that make genuine higher education possible. Yet these widely shared and intersecting chains of debt and labor contingency also have the potential to bring us together: as faculty, students, and workers, in new ways.

How can we grasp the systems of debt and labor precarity that bind today’s academy in a way that can allow us to unleash potential for liberatory education, in the classroom and beyond? And how can our unions and pedagogical strategies help create alliances between students, faculty, and other campus workers—not by shamefully avoiding talk of our “delinquent” debt or “adjunct” status, but by placing them front and center?”

Speakers: Joe Ramsey, Chair of Contingency Task Force, Higher Education Labor United and Faculty at UMASS, Boston; Jeri O’Bryan-Losee, United University Professions (SUNY)

Facilitated by Jason Wozniak, Debt Collective

Co-Sponsored by Higher Education Labor United
Related links:

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Methods of Student Nonviolent Resistance

Resistance has been an essential part of democracy. And the Higher Education Inquirer has reported on a number of nonviolent actions taken by college students and workers across the US. We have also recognized the brutal physical and economic violence that has been a part of US history and social structure and a major contributor to the ineffective counter-violence that has sometimes resulted. 

According to the Albert Einstein Institution, "far too often people struggling for democratic rights and justice are not aware of the full range of methods of nonviolent action. Wise strategy, attention to the dynamics of nonviolent struggle, and careful selection of methods can increase a group’s chances of success." 

Nonviolent strategies include three broad categories: (1) nonviolent protest and persuasion, (2) noncooperation (social, economic, and political), and (3) nonviolent intervention. 

A list of 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action is posted on the Brandeis University website. The list is based on Gene Sharp's Methods of Nonviolent Action (1973), but this document is not exhaustive.  Strategies and tactics may need to change with what works in these times: with new technology and greater understanding about how humans think and behave.


Historical Examples

Nonviolent protests for justice and democracy and against white supremacy occurred at Shaw University (1919), Fisk (1924-25), Howard (1925), and Hampton Institute (1925-27).  

In the early 1940s, James Farmer, a Howard Divinity School graduate, with students from the University of Chicago established the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), an interracial group focused on nonviolent direct action for civil rights. 

The 1960s were recognized for student activism, including the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), at Shaw University. This organization, and people like Ella Baker, were an essential part of the civil rights movement. 

In the 1970s and 1980s, divestment campaigns were an important part of the campaign against South African apartheid. Protesting for divestment against private prisons has also occurred on US campuses.  

Most recently, there were a number of campus occupations to protest the destruction of Gaza and the mass killing of civilians. And protests about climate change have been visible on a number of campuses for years. In these cases, we can expect more serious conflict to occur if these issues are not sufficiently addressed. 

As always, we appreciate your comments and constructive criticism.  

Related links: 

Black Study, Black Struggle (Robin D.G. Kelley, Boston Review)

A People's History of Higher Education in the US? 

Student Activism 

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Modeling civil unrest in the United States: some historical cases (Bryan Alexander)

One Fascism or Two?: The Reemergence of "Fascism(s)" in US Higher Education

US Higher Education and the Intellectualization of White Supremacy

Democratic Protests on Campus: Modeling the Better World We Seek (Annelise Orleck)

HurricaneTWOU.com: Digital Protest Exposes Syracuse, USC, Pepperdine, and University of North Carolina in 2U edX Edugrift

Wikipedia Community Documents Pro-Palestinian Protests on University and College Campuses

Rutgers University Workers Waging Historic Strike For Economic Justice (Hank Kalet)

University of California Academic Workers Strike For Economic Justice (November 14 to December 23, 2022)

Terri Givens and “Radical Empathy: Finding a Path to Bridge Racial Divides”

I Went on Strike to Cancel My Student Debt and Won. Every Debtor Deserves the Same. (Ann Bowers)

DEBT STRIKE! (Debt Collective)