We are hearing a language of crisis, with concepts like “austerity” and “efficiency,” what economist Paul Krugman has correctly termed “austerity ideology,” applied to every public institution. As faculty members we believe the language of crisis is used at CUNY to legitimate bad policies of diminished public support; increased tuition; growing use of part-time faculty paid impoverished wages; and decaying physical facilities. The human toll of these policies is masked by declarations that efficiencies need to be extracted from available public resources because new or increased public resources are simply not available. Furthermore, we are told that only through such efficiencies can quality be achieved. We are indeed at a crossroads in public higher education.
This needs to be talked about much, much more than it is. There is not question: Cost of education is going up, quality is going down and teachers are caught in the middle – we see it all happen, but we can’t really do much about it.