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Should profs set aside class time to discuss budget cuts in higher ed?

At a recent meeting of the Modern Language Association, a controversial proposal was rejected by a vote of 87 to 37. The proposal would have asked faculty members to talk to students during class about the impact of budget cuts on universities. Of those who voted against, some thought the proposal could get junior faculty members into trouble, while others didn’t want the MLA telling professors what to do in their classrooms.

The proposal was supported by the Radical Caucus of the MLA:

Barbara Foley, a professor of English at Rutgers University at Newark, and also a leader of the Radical Caucus, said that just as the MLA has taken “very principled positions” on issues such as unionization and apartheid, it should now speak out on ‘the current economic crisis, which is a crisis in capitalism,” and that this proposal represented “the next step of using the bully pulpit.”

According to Inside Higher Ed, the following resolutions were adopted at the meeting:

  • The first affirms “that members of the academic community have the right to challenge legislative or administrative decisions curtailing educational access, oppose political interference in such allied academic areas as ethnic and environmental studies, and address social justice issues relevant to their communities without fear of reprisal.”
  • The second notes that some Occupy protests “have met with violent police actions” and expresses MLA support for “peaceful protests.”

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