Administrators are the enemy, you know

The president of Columbia University made it crystal clear. The administration is wrestling with the idea of in-person classes, which is telling in itself — the administration doesn’t give a good damn about the health and safety of faculty, staff, and students or they wouldn’t be debating how to shove their employees into milling crowds of unvaccinated students. But President Bollinger admitted something heinous in a memo to other administrators. First, though, he said this in public.

Faculty response to new models of teaching necessitated by the pandemic has been tremendous. We want to support faculty in every way we can…the University will not prescribe an approach for individual faculty members. Faculty will have leeway to teach in person, online, or some combination of the two, in consultation with their schools.

Great! That’s what I want to hear! Except…

…the instructional faculty for the Core is largely composed of non-tenure-track individuals, which means we should have greater leeway to expect in-person instruction, if that’s what we deem best.

Hey, you know that huge swarm of underpaid, untenured adjuncts we have teaching the core courses of the university? They’re expendable, they have to do what we say, we’ll just make them take all the risks! After all, we know what’s best for them.

I call on my fellow tenured faculty to show solidarity with the scholars and scientists who work side-by-side with us, with far more job insecurity and with the contempt of the administration. They are not serfs. They deserve equal respect…which, given that university administrators don’t have all that much respect for their tenured faculty, isn’t asking a lot.


  1. says

    Note that, according to the post at the link,

    When the emails were written, the date was July 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic was still uncontrolled, with no vaccine yet in sight. Columbia instructors had been promised they could teach online in fall 2020 if they wished, and the vast majority chose to exercise that option. Yet the Columbia administration—perhaps mindful of the situation at Harvard and Yale, where undergraduate enrollments plummeted by over 20 percent, with a corresponding loss of tuition receipts—was having second thoughts.

    So it’s even worse. Fortunately,

    In the end, the administration’s bark proved worse than its bite. Dean Hungerford wrote to Arts & Sciences instructors asking them to reconsider the possibility of teaching in person, but no severe pressure was exerted, and the vast majority of undergraduate courses in fall 2020 remained entirely online. After the immense wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths that began in October 2020, everyone must have been relieved that the administrators did not get their way.

  2. lumipuna says

    I suppose universities have been suggesting their prospective students that this academic year will “hopefully” be relatively normal. After all, it worked last time as a sales pitch.

  3. unclefrogy says

    politely asking may get some polite words in reply . but very often not much more.

  4. donald1banks says

    Funny remark! :) Yes, macroeconomics students have a hard time, I think history and philosophy students do the same. By the way, the picture that you attached to the post looks professionally drawn. I recommend that you post it on your Instagram account and it will definitely get a bunch of likes. And don`t forget that help to increase the number of likes.