A few choice lines from Columbia Provost Alan Brinkley’s memo mentioned yesterday:

…we should seek to reduce the possibility of future strikes in response to those teaching fellows who fail to meet their instructional commitments…Anyone wo assumes additional responsibilities, including those graduate teaching fellows who continue to meet their classes, should be compensated financially for the extra work…Part of the teaching fellows’ stipend is distributed as a monthly salary. The University should immediately stop making those payments to any teaching fellows who deliberately fail to meet their instructional commitments…the web site developed last year should be reactivated and updated to reflect current conditions and the University’s new policies for dealing with the strike.

Jennifer Washburn’s piece effectively skewers the illegality and illiberalism of the strike-breaking tactics of universities like Columbia and Yale. At least as crucial to observe in reading a memo like this, however, is how clear administrators like Alan Brinkley (who should know better) are implicitly in the way they privately discuss the issue about what the challenge is that they’re facing: a strike of the labor of a significant portion of their academic workforce. Otherwise, there’d be no place for words like “extra work,” “compensated financially,” “salary,” and “strike.”

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