Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Logistics of Enforcing "Consequences"

President Sexton has announced sanctions againt NYU's striking GAs. While he was quite explicit about what the consequences for continuing to strike past Dec. 5 would be, it remains unclear as to how Sexton and the rest of his administration will actually go about enforcing them. To complicate matters, many departments issued neutrality resolutions on the eve of the strike pledging not to report or actively discipline GAs for our decision to withhold our labor. While I do believe that Sexton's threats are serious, and by no means whatsoever trivial, it seems to me that President Sexton and his administration may have a logistical nightmare on their hands. The sanctions they have unilaterally threatened to impose on GAs require the complicity of faculty and department administrators who may or may not feel it is their duty to actively effectuate such punishment.

What's more, it's up for debate as to whether doing so is actually in the immediate best interests of such faculty, seeing as firing their GAs and revoking the stipends of student-workers is detrimental to the general economic, academic, and spiritual well being of their departments. How will the proposed sanctions against GAs negatively impact: 1) the administration of graduate funding within departments, including the very intricate and delicate structure of allotment of funds that currently exists; 2) the credibility of departments who discipline graduate students in good academic standing using academic sanctions (i.e., rescinding their fellowships); 3) the atmosphere of trust and good faith that exists between faculty and graduate student-workers, which is the driving force behind departmental morale and cohesion? But most of all, who the hell is going to do all that work if they fire their GAs???

Just as President Sexton is demanding striking GAs to fall in line "or else," he may end up having to impose the same hard-line demand on NYU faculty and department administrators who choose to remain neutral for various and legitimate political, personal, financial, and academic reasons. Doing so may be the only means by which to make good on his threats to graduate employees. What, then, of academic freedom at NYU?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the really important thing to remember is what Ed Alt said today in the Village Theatre: whatever these consequences may be, they are nothing compared to what our predecessors in the labor movement faced: staring down the barrels of police guns, having their bones broken, losing their homes and communities, risking years in jail, etc.

We can do this. We'll get through it. And we will be better and stronger--as a group and as individuals. Acknowledge the fear, look the fear in the face, claim the fear...and choose to conquer it.

11/30/2005 11:20 PM  
Anonymous aiden said...

Faculty Democracy just wrote a great response (what else would you expect?) to Sexton's threat...The text is on

12/01/2005 9:23 PM  

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