L’écriture

So the new issue of Perspective – my first one since taking over as editor-in-chief – is up. The cover story, by my friends Lucy and Ian, is about how the Harvard labor movement and its student allies are responding to the financial crisis, and the Harvard administration’s at times highly objectionable methods in trying to cut costs. I did an interview with two Allston residents about Harvard’s delays in development there, another outgrowth of the sharp fall in the endowment (short version: Harvard is disrespectful to the communities that live around it – big surprise!). The editorial is on Black History Month, and the significance of both Barack Obama’s and (heh) Michael Steele’s elections. We also reran a piece from Progressive Nation at Princeton about Obama’s ability to woo over Asian-American voters, and the ever-perceptive Daniel Villafana pushes the Back Page to new heights by giving our room’s main method of procrastination the book review treatment. So check it out.

Also, I decided it was a good idea to make sure the Washington Post never hires me for anything, ever. In all seriousness, I’m really proud of this piece, and thank George Will profusely for bringing the subject up again in his column today, thus giving me a perfect time peg.

One thought on “L’écriture

  1. There is a basic question that the labor piece does not answer, namely what fraction of Harvard’s budget is spent on clerical and technical workers, vs what fraction it should be. It’s all well and good to abstractly state that labor cuts should be a last resort. But if Harvard were overstaffed, how many students would know? When I was at Harvard, activist students were just as sympathetic as they are now to the welfare of unionized university employees. And that’s fine, but it’s not as simple as accepting everything that the union says at face value. Certainly some of the protesters felt no intellectual urge to do any more than that.
    Let’s agree that unions are a legitimate legal/economic representative of their workers. Even so, their mandate is to only speak for one side; they are like lawyers. (Indeed, many union officials are lawyers.)
    In my experience here at Davis, when administrators want to hire clerical and technical staff, no one can stop them. Some of these administrators are not doing a good job: They set up a tangled work flow in which very little gets done; to compensate they hire new staff at the drop of a hat. If anything, managing more people entrenches them. The administration is fairly parsimonious with department-level hiring, both faculty and staff, at least for many of its departments. But some of its own conduct makes its conservatism look hypocritical.
    I would be surprised if this phenomenon were unique to Davis. On the contrary, unaccountable central campus hiring seems like an endemic problem. I would expect it to be worse rather than better at a rich university like Harvard.

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