This is a fairly minor thing in the grand scheme of things but I need to mention it anyway because it illustrates how our freedoms are taken away from us all at once.
Our students don’t buy textbooks because those are very expensive and students can’t afford them. Instead, the university buys textbooks (or simply books) and lets students use them. At the end of the semester, students return the books.
We never had a problem getting our Textbook Service to provide the books we need because it’s all about academic freedom. Nobody should impinge on what a professor teaches, how, and with which texts. And nobody did. I’ve been teaching as a professor for 13 years, and nobody ever evinced the slightest interest (let alone desire) to glance at my syllabi or book choices. And this is exactly how it should be.
In the Fall of 2020, however, things changed. I was not allowed to order a novel for the Spring 2021 because it was published outside the US. I teach Hispanic literature, which means that pretty much everything I need is published outside the US. But these days, unless you enrich a gigantic US corporation, you can’t order the book you need.
Then it got worse. Without telling anybody, Textbook Services signed a contract with Cengage to the effect that nobody would order any textbooks with an online component from anybody but Cengage. Why we decided to give a massive gift like that to one company but not another hasn’t been explained.
Of course, I’d ditch the stupid online component altogether but language teachers don’t like to work much, so they are obsessed with these online workbooks and pre-canned, automatically generated and graded tests.
In any case, this is the result. One of the biggest components of academic freedom is gone. The causes are
2. people’s ineradicable laziness.
Yes, austerity sucks. I’m completely opposed. But this wouldn’t happen if so many people hadn’t outsourced their work to “online teaching solutions.”