Tense Meeting

Yesterday we had a really tense, really angry meeting of the department chairs and the Dean. People split into two groups:

1. Those who believe that austerity measures are being imposed in good faith and for good reasons. They believe we need to throw ourselves eagerly into implementing them because “the numbers” show that the situation is dire and “we” have “difficult choices to make.”

I really loved that “we”. As if the new austerity administrator sought our opinion instead of issuing edicts that we are supposed to obey. I’m quoting verbatim from what I said at the meeting.

Curiously, group 1 ended up being 100% male.

2. Those who have noticed 15+ years of budget cuts and no longer believe in “the numbers” or that austerity solves anything. This was a group that was both male and female. It’s also older and has no immigrants except for me.

I’m sure everybody can figure out which group is mine. I honestly can’t understand how people still take the yearly announcements of “crucial” austerity measures that are supposed to solve everything but always lead to the need for more austerity. This year, “the numbers” were so obviously cooked that people burst out laughing when we were first given them.

The only restraint I showed was not saying the word “neoliberal.” I’m saving it for later. But I went all out otherwise.

7 thoughts on “Tense Meeting

    1. I think it’s a bit hard both. People want to imagine they are important even when they clearly aren’t and it drives them into an unhealthily intense inner life.

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  1. I don’t see how austerity can be a thing when government spending it at record highs. Seems that the spending is being directed somewhere else. My guess is that since the population is older than it was in the past, more money is being spent on the elderly than the youth which is why the flu has become a bigger issue than education.

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    1. “how austerity can be a thing when government spending it at record highs”

      Austerity is never “cutting back on government spending”. At the national level, austerity, no matter the justification or the rhetoric, is about transferring public goods into private hands. That’s it. And the only result is the need for more “austerity”.

      I’m not sure if it works the same way at the institutional level. From what Clarissa has written, at US universities ‘austerity’ is about funneling resources away from the classroom to non-teaching non-research faculty and administrative workers.

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      1. Our mandate is, and I quote, “cut down instructional costs.” Instructional costs are the money spent on teaching. We have even cancelled the subscription to the OED!

        I have no idea where the money goes. I’m no accountant but the financial statements we have been given about this “budget crisis” are very contradictory. In July, we were 10 million short. In August, we were told it’s 18. Now we are being told it’s almost 30 million. This is three times what the shortfall was just a couple of months ago. Something smells fishy.

        And the worst part is this. I’ve been here for 13 years. Long-time readers know that I have been talking about our budget crisis throughout these 13 years. We have cut, cut, cut everything we could. But the crisis only deepens. Might it be that cuts are not the way out? Is it possible they aren’t working? Is it possible they do the opposite of what we want them to do?

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