Astra Taylor talks to Rutgers faculty union president Todd Wolfson, over at Boston Review:
Astra Taylor: Higher education seems to be in a perpetual state of crisis. What are your general thoughts on the crisis? And how did that set the stage for the devastation that the pandemic has brought to higher education?
Todd Wolfson: Rutgers, and higher education writ large, has been hit quite profoundly by the pandemic. Campuses swiftly shuttered in March. Students living in dorms were asked to pack up and leave; faculty teaching classes were asked to rapidly shift those classes online; staff across the university were asked to work remotely. Since then, faculty, students, staff and administrators have been trying to navigate a growing crisis. Many campuses will be entirely online in the fall, and students and parents are questioning the effectiveness of that approach. Meanwhile staff, faculty, and graduate students who make our colleges and universities work are facing increasing precarity. Many have either lost their jobs or been furloughed.
While the pandemic has had a particularly adverse impact on higher education, we’ve come to this critical moment because of the history that precedes it: the long-term trend of disinvestment in higher education.