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Faculty at U of All People responds to the governor's broadsides (essay)

Appeasement
April 12, 2013

If the need for government support of higher education is no joke, why is the percentage earmarked in Governor Broadside’s latest state budget so laughable?

The situation is particularly dire at U of All People, where the last three years have yielded less than zilch. In fact, if you turn the financial assistance graph sideways, as Chancellor Bilkem accidentally did at his last address to the faculty, it looks like a killer water-ski ramp. The rationale for this negative growth -- the vernacular for which is “cutting ’em loose” -- varies, depending on what constituency the governor is addressing that day.

The anti-education speeches are vicious and demand a response, or we’ll all be office temps by 2014. We, the professors, did come up with a series of rebuttals in the faculty senate, which hasn’t extracted a concession from the university administration in living memory. We’d like to speak to the press. But since U of All People is a business, as well as an institution of higher learning, as Chancellor Bilkem likes to repeat, the university public relations staff has tweaked our wording in certain strategic areas:

Governor Broadside: “Colleges are bloated cash cows that are bleeding the state dry with their runaway expenses of inflated salaries and bogus pension programs.” —speech to the Conservative Republican Action Program, 12 Feb. 2013

Faculty senate rebuttals:

  • The governor is addicted to mixed metaphors.
  • Our operating costs for fiscal 2012 make us look like a mom ’n’ pop grocery store.
  • If only we were a bank bailout.

PR rewording: At U of All People, we believe in fiscal responsibility. We plan to rein in our expenses in 2014 by firing 75 percent of our office workers.

*

Governor Broadside: “As bastions of higher education, universities are inherently elitist, and tax dollars can be better spent elsewhere.”  —address to the sports fans at The Boosters Club, 17 Feb.

Faculty senate rebuttals:

  • No high school football team takes every kid who tries out. Now that’s elitist.
  • We like to think we have standards.
  • Education pays for itself. Wait, that line might be used against us.

PR rewording: In response to recent charges of elitism, we’ve changed our acceptance policy to allow any member of our species to matriculate (and have banned words like “matriculate” from our brochures and website to achieve the right populist tone).

*

Governor Broadside: “Institutions of higher learning don’t adequately prepare young people for the real world.”  —talk with the Business World Caucus, 1 March 2013

Faculty senate rebuttals:

  • A college education prepares young minds for coping with the political mess out there.
  • You can’t measure academic success by job prospects. That’s what we told the last three assessment committees.
  • Christ [deleted], we’ve done everything to deal with this “inadequate preparation” garbage but turn our honors college into a trade school.

PR rewording: U of All People is open for business! We now offer courses in data entry and fast-food delivery.

*

Governor Broadside: “The university faculty are a bunch of overprivileged radicals who seek to take over the world from the bastion of the ivory tower.”  —speech to the construction workers of Local 1204, 17 March 2013

Faculty senate rebuttals:

  • That applies only to Professor Harvey, an unreconstructed Maoist who retired back in 2005.
  • We wish.
  • Tower? What tower? My office is in the basement of Cramptin Hall.

PR rewording: Our new job ads stipulate that conservative values and membership in the Republican party are a plus.

*

Governor Broadside: “I’d consider increasing funding if we abolished tenure. For too long, we’ve endured this antiquated system.” —radio interview, 20 March 2013

Faculty senate rebuttals:

  • Academic freedom is a terrible thing to lose.
  • Tell that to the adjuncts.
  • If we give up our job security, will you be nice to us?

PR rewording: Please bear with us. We’re hiring fewer tenure-track lines every year.

*

Governor Broadside: “I have particular reservations about U of All People, which strikes me as uncooperative and exclusionary.”  —meeting with Chancellor Bilkem, 27 Mar. 2013

Faculty senate rebuttals:

  • More anti-intellectual crap.
  • I don’t see the point of cooperating with someone who’s our worst enemy.
  • Did you know that Governor Broadside was rejected from U of All People back in 1978?

PR rewording: U of All People is pleased to offer Governor Broadside an honorary degree in political science at this year’s commencement exercises.

Bio

David Galef directs the creative writing program at Montclair State University. His latest book is the short story collection My Date With Neanderthal Woman (Dzanc Books).

 

 

 

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