my job and the blog title

October 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

I work as an academic advisor at a state university here in Chicago. I should put the “state” in quotes, because my school receives less and less funding every year.  This year for the first time ever the State of Illinois has funded less than half of the University’s budget, just 48 percent. There are multinational corporations, they-pocket-the-profits-we-pocket-the-expense corporations (and banks), that are subsidized at that rate.  Sometimes they get more.

Labor relations are getting very ugly at my school, and people are starting to get concerned that we might be facing our second strike in eight years. It’s a total fucking mess, and it’s the students who will be hurt the most. Some of the staff and adjunct faculty would be right behind them though, hurtwise. (As a total aside, I had a high school English teacher who abhorred the use of “wise.” He hated all “izes,” prioritize, capitalize, incentivize.  Maybe he was on to something there, but still he was the kind of guy who would refer to his wife as “the hairy buffalo.” So this one’s for you Mr. C.)

I’m getting pretty bummed out about universities in general, and the Chronicle of Higher Education isn’t helping any. This sucks so hard, because I like helping my students make their lives better. It thrills me when they graduate and go on to do things they wouldn’t have been capable of or allowed to do before graduation.  I live for those moments when someone who has been taught her whole life that she is not capable of learning and deserves the shit our country heaps on her, when this someone, 40 or 50 or 60 years old opens up and discovers within herself a depth and richness of mind that had been denied to her because of poverty and racism and gender-violence. This is what I live for in my job, those moments when I am so incredibly privileged to watch people come into their own.

These people cannot afford any more disruption to their educations. But our state would rather spend millions torturing people in solitary confinement than to fund educations even for the young. Forget the middle-aged and the old.

What I do in my particular job at my particular university is to try to help people steer their lives to safety. So that then they may shine, I really mean this, in their own radiance. So that they have the power to go on and do for others. So that we may rebuild our communities and our city and our world. It’s a stretch, I know.

If you look at the “about” section of this blog, you’ll see a couple of quotations that pretty much explain why I’m writing here. What I do in my day job though is, to quote Ulrich Beck, seek “biographical solutions to systemic contradictions.” And I’m pretty good at it.  But it’s not enough.


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