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The business of college 

The corporatization of higher education continues on at Cal Poly, which seems to have decided that education should be more like sausage making—highly efficient sausage making overseen by layer after layer of administrators micromanaging the beleaguered faculty trying to stuff ground-up students into uniform casings.

As the popular state university’s student body continues to grow, you’d expect you’d need more highly qualified teachers and more state-of-the-art classrooms, right? Well, nope. President Jeffrey Armstrong and the Cal Poly administration have another approach!

Not enough classrooms? Instead of building more (or letting in fewer students), Cal Poly’s answer is to hold classes from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.! And instead of hiring more highly educated tenure track professors who’ll earn the academic freedom to stand up to the administration and who are paid fairly, Cal Poly’s answer is to hire a bunch of part-time temporary lecturers who are paid a pittance and whose lack of job security makes them malleable little cogs in Poly’s increasingly corporatized university machine.

While classroom space has become scarce, tenured positions have dried up, and lecturers have become increasingly exploited, you know who’s scored big? Administrators! Yep, according to a recent state audit of the California State University system, between 2007 and 2016, management position throughout the CSU grew by 15 percent while faculty positions grew just 7 percent. Worse still, in that same period, Cal Poly’s administration grew by nearly 50 percent, which Cal Poly justified by the number of students they house on campus. Jeez, does every on-campus resident get his or her own administrator? That’s adorable!

The audit also noted that many administrators were given fat raises without up-to-date evaluations while just last year faculty and staff, who hadn’t had raises in almost a decade, threatened to go on strike until Armstrong and his army of administrators somehow found the funds to raise faculty pay by 10.5 percent over two years.

After Poly raised fees and let in 3,000 new students, Armstrong promised to increase “tenure density” by hiring more tenure track professors, but instead he increased the number of lecturers and graduate student teaching assistants. Tenure density has actually decreased under Armstrong from 66 percent to 58 percent of faculty.

Cal Poly is frequently cited as one of the best public universities on the West Coast, but under Armstrong’s management it seems to have become less about education and more about profitability, efficiency, and exploiting students. Hey, that’s where the money is!

And the donations are pouring in! The latest being $110 million for the science and mathematics department. Woohoo! But the biggest donation in Cal Poly history won’t reduce tuition a dime.

Speaking of mismanagement, what the hell is happening at The Tribune? They apparently just laid-off two full-time and two part-time reporters. If New Times did that, we’d have negative one part-time reporter! This seems weird, because after floundering for about six months, The Tribune had really been stepping up its local news game with some jealousy-inducing reportage! Now they just cut off their news team at its knees!

Frankly, I’m guessing the Trib’s parent company, McClatchy Newspapers, is to blame. I get that any business must be profitable to continue, which is why it was probably smart for the Trib to outsource its printing, but what’s a newspaper without reporters? Yeah, it’s an advertising circular.

And finally, while most people responded positively to last week’s cover story—“Religious misperceptions” (April 27)—about the local Muslim population trying to educate the public about Islam, a few people just had to show their intolerant douchy side, like Jason Swaim who, according to his Facebook page, is “a person who gets all the facts and makes an informed decision.”

He responded to our Facebook post about the story with this comment: “So beating women, raping them, making them cover their faces, having to pay a man to marry your daughter, and murdering anyone who is not Islamic is being a good human being? Fuck Islam, it gives me DiaSHARIA just thinking about it, now I have to go wipe my ALLAH with KORAN paper, and flush the whole MECCA down the toilet.”

Hey Jason, maybe you should get that potty problem you have checked out. While you’re at it, you can have the doctor check and see if you left any of those facts you claim to have up your ass, because you seem to be getting your information from someplace I can’t see.

Last I checked, none of the Muslims I know are doing any of the things you seem to associate with every single Muslim on the face of the planet.

Then there’s Daniel Phares, a professional lawn mower, who commented on Facebook, “hey I thought you retarded liberal shitbags would enjoy this story. fuck you (sic),” followed by a link to a story about Muslims beating a Danish girl and then stoning her dog to death, which happens about as often as a right-wing “Christian” goes to a black church prayer meeting and kills nine black people in a racist attack.

Really, Phares? You read a story in our paper about Muslims expressing their desire to live peaceably in our community and your reaction is to point to the small minority of Muslims in Europe who are besmirching Islam? Stick to lawn mowing, dickhead.

The Shredder studied sarcasm in college. Comment at shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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