Thursday, September 20, 2007

Adding Hunger to the Strike

More Great Publicity for BigU and Further

Unhelpful Comments by OurLeader's Spokesperson

We make Inside Higher ED - This is just great publicity for a university in the midst of becoming "one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic]."

To repeat the message of an earlier post - the hunger strike is wrong on many levels. AFSCME members at the U should vote to request the students to stop the hunger strike.

Stefano Bloch has an excellent explanation of why this is so in today's Daily.

Nevertheless, excerpts from the article are given below because they provide some insight into what the striking workers are dealing with at the university, particularly the inappropriate comments of one Mr. Wolter, OurLeader's spokesperson.

Two weeks into a workers’ strike at the University of Minnesota, a group of students has jumped on board with a strike of its own — a hunger strike.

“We’ve been pushed to take a more somber approach to force the administration to listen,” said Sofi Shank, a freshman at the university who is helping to organize the student response. The move comes after an earlier attempt to make the university listen — when 75 to 100 students stormed a Board of Regents meeting on Sept. 7 — ended in five arrests.

The student-led hunger strike is not being coordinated by the union, Council 5 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, although the student organizers are being housed in the same church as the one being used as a headquarters for the strike committee, according to Jennifer Lovaasen, a spokeswoman for AFSCME.

The university, for its part, views the hunger strike as “theatrics” by a “cadre of activists looking for a cause, and this is their cause,” according to Wolter.

“Figuratively, we’re still at the table because we never left,” Wolter said.

“We’re not known for a rigid level of discipline with faculty members,” Wolter conceded, although he said there were discussions about the possibility of financial repercussions for some departments or temporarily replacing instructors. Some students, he said, have had to drop classes because of the inconvenience of attending class at a church or theater.

Ah, you must be new around here, Mr. Wolter or you would realize the irony of that statement and wouldn't make it... But of course, you were until recently a spinmeister for Governor Pawlenty. You should realize that needlessly insulting people you are going to have to work with in the future is not a good idea.

You are no longer a Republican trying to badmouth DFLers. Google "tenure wars" and "University of Minnesota" when the strike is over and you will realize how ignorant your remarks are about faculty members and discipline. We are still trying to recover from the damage done to the University by its administration and the then regents in attempting to weaken tenure at Minnesota.

Dismissing people of conscience, especially students, who disagree with your handlers as "a cadre of activists looking for a cause" is truly despicable. Read some selections from Mark Yudof's inaugural address as president of the University of Minnesota. You might learn something, especially:

"In recent years, too many in the academy have abandoned community, with its commitment to fairness, willingness to sacrifice for the good of the entire enterprise, and a sense that we are all in this together. They have played the politics of distrust, envy, cynicism, and self-advancement.

It is fundamental--as Emmanuel Kant beautifully explained and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States embody--that the individuals in our community be treated with equal respect."

Saber-rattling by our Provost should remain just that. Use of heavy handed tactics in dealing with well-respected, principled, faculty members like Paula Rabinowitz would be a very serious mistake in your pursuit of "world-class greatness [sic]."

There are people other than Mr. Wolter who bear responsibility for his statements. Those include OurLeader, for whom Mr. Wolter serves as mouthpiece. I suggest to OurLeader that he put his attack dog on puppy chow for the foreseeable future. Mr. Wolter's past and present statements do not augur well for putting the university back together once this strike is over.

Ciao, Bonzo

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