[WARNING: Partisan alert! If you don’t believe the Republican party is more avidly squelching academic political activity than the Dems are, you won’t like some of these assertions…. –Seth]
If any of you haven’t yet been following the story out of Wisconsin of Professor William Cronon, you should. An article in this morning’s (Mon 3/28) Inside Higher Ed provides a solid account.
Kevin Mahoney at the KUXchange does an excellent job of contextualizing the issue and explaining its relevance to our current situation here in PA. He concludes:
Cronon’s case is important because i[t] indicates the length to which this new breed of Republican will go to ensure compliance and squash dissent. One more reason these folks are going after tenure. After all, the original purpose of tenure was to ensure that the government or an institution could not silence unpopular arguments. It was a protection against the kind of tyranny we are seeing in Wisconsin.
Tom Corbett hasn’t directly named public unions or university faculty as enemies of the state in the way that the Walkerites in Wisconsin have, but his attack on our budget couldn’t be more clear evidence that he’s perfectly willing to destroy us.
Think about it this way; in the face of pretty strong response publicly against his PASSHE budget proposal, Corbett’s response has been (predictably) along the lines of, “Well, this was just an opening in what I know will be a negotiation.”
That would sound reasonable, except for one thing. You should NEVER offer a proposal you’re not prepared to live with. What would have happened, does the Governor think, had we not responded so quickly and strongly? What would have happened if the citizens of PA had said, “OK, you’re right, Tom! Let’s smash ’em up!”
Anyway, more germane to the Cronon case, what we’re seeing around the country right now is an all-out effort to squelch shared governance and academic participation in our national and state politics. The attempts at suppression don’t just cross campus boundaries but sit squarely on both sides of the boundaries.
Therefore, as a practical matter, I very, very strongly recommend a couple of things–
1. While the WCU policy on email/internet usage doesn’t specifically preclude using your WCU email for political purposes, it seems like a good idea not to–especially given that President Weisenstein made a point of saying so (and saying not to use WCU letterhead for correspondence with government officials) on his Budget Update page.
2. Start an account with a commercial service; APSCUF will need you to have one anyway if you don’t already. Otherwise, as we move into preparations for our contract expiration, you’ll be uninformed. We simply won’t send out organizational messages or updates on negotiations to campus email addresses; this shouldn’t be news to anybody on either side :). I recommend Gmail, for a bunch of reasons I can explain if you care.
In the end, I think the law is on Professor Cronon’s side, as it would be on ours should somebody come (metaphorically, I hope) knocking at my door to complain about this blog or my personal one.
But why tempt fate? Or, as I wrote in an email exchange about Cronon with a colleague the other day, who the hell has time to fool with that kind of challenge when we’ve got actual work to do?