Friday, February 20, 2009

academic transparency

intrigued by the NYU takeOver (VillageVoice feed photo shown). I followed tweets, saw the student website, watched YouTube videos, checked NY One! Not clear about all of the demands but the transparency issue is real. not pleased by the NYU tyranny in putting down the take over. I have seen NYU become a corporate behemoth over time. Just the take over of the East Village for student housing. Amazing that they charge over $1000 a month for a student to share a dorm! A tax-exempt group which has benefited from City policy to expand dislocating many working class people in the process.

spoke with someone I know 30 years on the phone. He asked why do I know some wierd people.. talking about a divorcing couple I know. LOL! thoughts of how people just buy into myths, or drink the koolaid! I am always amazed by the myths... well God bless him! Wealthy people have problems but their wealth can screen others from knowing what is up. In the 9 years I did corporate affairs for Citibank, I saw enough late night black cars bringing in drunks who were helped out of the cab by the doorman and whisked upstairs in the elevator by the maid. Actually I started my doctoral studies as I was so bored by the endless partying and greediness in some of that life. Anyhow... Richard Hofstadter and C Wright Mills wrote on the phenomenon almost 50 years ago!

The same issues of myth in academia. The power of institutions to gatekeep as well as accredidate. Mostly the personal stories one encounters... Nasty evil divorces ... at least 5 families where the professor dumped his wife and deserted the children for a wealthier spouse. Married DL gays and lesbians. A famous couple espousing liberal causes everywhere and then their behavior ridiculing their gay son.. their embarrassment. The wife of a professor locked away in a psychiatric ward who used to phone the college looking for her husband. He had a wealthy student paramour. Thankfully, there are now ethics laws that one cannot date one's students. All paid big bucks despite their questionable behaviors. 95& of us would be fired, in civil court, and/or harrassed for similiar behavior. Some of these stories go back to the 1970s, many of these people are now deceased, but they were gatekeepers!

I think of these things in terms of the realignment going on in the US and world economy. The power of the wealthy and privledged to do what they want is manifest. I also always think of someone listed among the 50 most powerful bankers in the world.. a really lovely woman who has spent so much time helping others over the years. Generally committed academics, but then those who slept and clawed their way up, as in many career paths. So, as in the case of the phone converser.. people can be wierd.. it is just they may not share their truth or one can be blinded by the socalled status. From years of working with clients, people tell others what they want them to know.. it may or may not be what is called reality! And of course, just using basic critical thinking but then again maybe 30% of Americans have an accreditated college degree and logic may have only been an elective.

I dont know much about NYU. Sadly I mostly remember the wierd stories. I supervised several students from NYU. I flunked one. She was all caught up in the importance of "being at NYU" but did little work. I know several faculty.. one was a professor who in the 1970s spent her agency time exposing lesbian mothers and bringing them up for immoral behavior at Family Court. I was working with disabled children at the time, and all of us workers hated her. Times have changed.. she now hangs with the lesbian NYU faculty. Another NYU grad, now teaching at a NJ college, went to NYU as she was not accepted at Columbia for being anti-social. She was a big boozer and slept with more men than I can remember in those wild 1980s. A friend worked in Columbia admissions and had had a verbal fight with the candidate at her admissions interview! Now that was good interview style! Today, she is married to a WallStreeter, suburban, presents the highest of bourgeosie appropriateness. Mostly though I really know little about NYU as I was involved in my alma maters.

Anyhow... what is life...
series of challenges and dealing with the ambiguities along our path to fulfill our true will (if we figure that out!) I never had a professor I wanted to date... LOL. As an art student, i spent all my time making art and had an intense personal relationship. in social work school, I had a political placement, fellowship at the international house, editor of my college monthly newsletter. Whew! Today, I am too superEgo'd to even think about dating a student.. students need to go through their own life process.. I am just one person on their path and one hardly needs to go through my dramas! Of course every semester I have students who have their "crush" on me but I know that 2 months after the grades are in I expect to rarely hear from the student again!

I value academia highly. I love teaching research, ethics, but I also have a social worker mentalite of respect for ethical practice. There is a parallel process in teaching. I evolved into teaching as an outgrowth of my work as a community organizer and as a direct services worker. I had no college guidance in high school nor from my parents. I wound up in Brooklyn as I did not want to go back to Colorado and got a free rent job renovating brownstones and CUNY was free! Brooklyn College was great as I loved making art there! Columbia was so intellectually interesting and I got scholarships! In my PhD time, a professor told me I read too much! I had never really read the classics and history. I had no college mentors in terms of an academic life. My studies were very project oriented. Anyhow, I can understand Barack Obama and his mentalite, being another alum. I know he must have signed one of my petitions in those thousands of petitions!!!

I hope that the students and admin find a way to discuss. I do think that the transparency issue will be on the table as the costs are out of control. This is a time of great change and I think the university is but one to see changes. There will just not be the money to continue the costs! I hope that there is respect and a dialog that makes change happen albeit....

peace, hugs, compassion

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