Writing for The Guardian, Rose Hackman reports on the possible longterm significance of the lockout at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus in “LIU Lockout: US Professors and Students Seen as Disposable Commodities.”
In the midst of contract negotiations, the administration locked out the faculty over Labor Day weekend, a pre-emptive move intended to pressure the union into concessions just as classes were about to start. Faculty were denied access to their university email and offices, and the administration quickly sought to put replacement “teachers” in classes.
Hackman’s reporting focuses considerable attention on possible relationship between race and educational investments. LIU has two campuses: Brooklyn and Post. The Post campus is situated in the leafy suburbs of eastern Long Island, and its student body is considerably less diverse.
Ben Saunders, a professor of psychology at LIU Brooklyn, says that he feels the campus in Brooklyn is effectively funding the suburban Post campus, echoing critiques long made over the centuries by black public intellectuals: that communities of color are systematically plundered to support unrealistic standards of living for whiter communities.
Also at issue in the LIU lockout was educational quality. Much of the reporting on the lockout included examples of unqualified or marginally qualified individuals hired to stand before students in the first weeks of the term. Hackman spotlights the experience of one LIU Brooklyn student, Nichia McFarlane:
McFarlane says after the lockout was announced, and after she realized courses were not being taught by the qualified professors she had been looking forward to, students received emails from the administration saying their time to un-enroll without incurring a financial penalty had been shortened. She had to make a split-second decision that very day, and withdrew.
‘As they were locking out faculty, they were trying to lock in students. It felt like a con or a scam. I don’t want to think that about the university that I am going to.’
Teaching is a highly skilled profession requiring years of apprenticeship, credentialing, and more. Students are often quite capable of recognizing when instruction is not provided by qualified individuals.