NYU is teaching cynicism

“Its union busting tactics against grad students are breaking laws and undermining academic freedom.”

Gordon Lafer in Newsday:

Traditionally, universities serve a very particular role in society. Conceived specifically as a refuge from the dog-eat-dog world of the market, they are home to a wider range of ideas than is tolerated in the business world. This is so because universities are the only place where you can’t get fired for saying what you think. They are a community of scholars where individuals are freed to pursue their notion of truth, knowing that, as long as their work is rigorous, their careers will not be sabotaged in retaliation for espousing the “wrong” view.

This form of academic freedom is made possible by one of two things: the institution of tenure or a union contract. By cutting back on tenured positions while refusing to recognize teachers’ unions, NYU is undermining both pillars of academic freedom. In this way, academic managers are pushing a new vision of higher education – not a community of independent scholars freed to boldly pursue their notions of truth, but a place of permanent insecurity, where everyone is afraid to speak out against those in power…

Union busting is a sleazy practice in any industry. But in a university, it takes a further toll. It undermines the very integrity of intellectual life that draws people to academia in the first place. There is still time for NYU to reverse course and do the right thing. It is for all of us – particularly New York taxpayers who subsidize the tax-exempt university – to insist that it do so.

More here.  [Thanks to Asad Raza.]