Marc Bousquet was recently in town to give the keynote address at the NC AAUP conference. 3Cs had the chane to chance to chat with Marc a bit before his talk. Unfortunately we don’t have audio of the conversation but here are some of the key themes of the conversation:
- How to research the university – there’s no clear answer except for hard work, patience and some creative thinking (and remember – somethings people give you information if you just ask politely!)
- The university is leading the way for the development of new corporate organization and management methods (meaning the university is not just following the corporate model but creating it!)
- Exciting organizing going on around the country by grad students and contingent faculty, through unions and organizations that act like unions, to demand recognition of their status of workers and for increased rights and benefits as workers (hopefully this will be the topic of a longer post at some point)
- Undergrads are workers too – Marc tends to focus on work-study programs which are not as big at UNC as some other schools, but we can think of many ways that undergrads are workers. The point is: undergrads are not only training to become workers but are already workers and that the part-time, flexible (precarious) labor of undergrads (I think this can be expanded across the university community) is a central part of the economy and highly exploited by capital.
- Students produce value for the university even in their free time, especially through the branding of the university, – whenever we wear university apparel, hold events for charity, win sports events, or even protest, anything to increase the university’s publicity and popularity.
The good news of all this is that students have enormous amount of power, especially if we recognize our positions as workers. In his address to the AAUP, Marc discussed student labor more, along with the trend toward an ever more contingent teaching staff. You can read more of Marc’s work on his blog