Why will university students, their families, faculty, academic professionals, classified campus employees, university administrators, and all who care about higher education organize in unprecedented ways this year, and the next, and the next two?
President-elect Trump is shaping an administration guided by an attitude of scorn and greed towards education, health, and the social compact of citizenship in general. We are preparing for four years of a radical agenda of “profits over people.”
Education, in a democracy, is a fundamental universal right. Which means it has to be a guaranteed right, a social right of citizenship. President-elect Trump, his cabinet, and advisers, are intent on killing this right, with gusto.
Privatization and attacks on the collective bargaining rights of faculty, graduate employees, and all university workers will help line the pockets of private investors. This is how these investment opportunities will trickle down: student debt will be on the rise, student access to higher education will decline, and student families, along with the families of faculty on part time contracts, will experience growing economic insecurity. Profits over people.
Attacks on faculty collective bargaining rights will also weaken academic freedom — our AAUP unions and associations provide an indispensable protection when a colleague’s rights are under attack. As Michael Sandel persuasively shows in What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, indiscriminate marketization leads to the serious corruption of fundamental values. President-elect Trump’s privatization agenda would seriously corrupt academic freedom and the faculty role in shared governance, two values that are pillars of the good university. Profits over values.
Finally, as I write, Republicans are working to repeal access to health care for 20 million Americans. The runaway costs of this market-driven exclusion will be borne by society. Millions of families will experience insecurity of the worst sort. The costs of neglecting the rights of these fellow citizens will trickle down and take a bite out of university budgets as the burden of escalating health care costs grows.
To prevent all this, as citizens we will organize!