You have no doubt heard that our case has been sent to binding arbitration.
The strike is over.
This has been one of the most complex and rewarding experiences of my life. Sometimes when my mind is so focused on theory construction in my academic studies, it is easy to get lost. At times I have found myself sincerely wondering if what I am doing is of any value at all. There is no such ambiguity in the case of my membership in this union and my participation in this strike. It has been an honor and a privilege to share the picket lines with all of you, both physical and virtual.
Regarding the virtual picket, I want to express my thanks for having had the opportunity to communicate with you all through this platform. I hope that through this difficult time that some of what I have said has been of use.
For what it’s worth, I want to extend a deep bow of respect to the entire bargaining team. More than any of us, they have directly faced the terrifying and dehumanizing institutional forces that shape subjectivities in the University. They have had to battle it directly during negotiations. If I might be pardoned some harsh language, I submit that each and every one of them is a goddamn fucking hero. Thank you. Additionally, I feel personally obligated to extend a special acknowledgement to Ryan Culpepper. To my mind, he has held the fragile beating heart of our cause in his hands, and done so with guts, poise and precision. His leadership has been an inspirational example of grace under fire. To Ryan and the entire bargaining team, we all owe you an enormous debt of gratitude.
I also do not want to sugarcoat anything. I close with three thoughts:
I. Positive take away: I have met a lot of amazing people. I have felt the the pride of being on the right side of a just cause. I have found productive ways to manage my anger in the face of overwhelming odds. I have felt such deep feelings of respect and admiration for everyone I met on the picket lines. The graduate students were amazing. It was a fantastic experience to meet so many different folks and make new friends that I would not otherwise have made. Those faculty who stood in support can wield their privilege of place with solemn pride. I was happy that so many of them used their clout to speak on our behalf. Lastly and most importantly, the undergraduates who stood with us were and are such an inspiration. If only the administration had a fraction of their sincerity and guts. This strike hit them the hardest and they showed us all what real class is all about. Solidarity forever, friends.
II. Negative take away: The administration of this University is a monster. I have no respect for any of those who worked against us. They have treated us with great psychological violence. They have actively manipulated the media and have taken every possible step to avoid dealing with us in good faith. I am absolutely disgusted. My faith in the ideals of higher education have been stripped away. Where once I saw a deep and intimidating meritocracy, now all I see is a commodified discourse economy that is fueled by a perverse set of power-dynamics and fiscal policies that simultaneously empower and enslave the individuals who come to occupy positions of affluence within its structure. Yes, I just called Meric Gertler and Cheryl Regehr slaves. They are slaves to their own institutional and financial privilege and it has blinded them to their moral obligations to the well-being of their students. Shame does not even begin to capture the severity of their misconduct. Academic continuity was and is a travesty and so was every single tactic they employed throughout the duration of the strike.
III. Ambiguious take away: We do not yet know the outcome! I have no idea when we will know. I trust the bargaining team to make the arguments they need to make. I hope that whomever comes to hold decision making power in this dispute considers our case with care. I can’t help but think that if there is any reason in the hearts of well-intentioned folk, that the arguments and evidence are clearly in our favor.
Goodnight friends. I’ll post on this blog once more when the decision comes down.
With love and in solidarity,