Max Haiven on students’ role in faculty struggles

Should students stand in solidarity with faculty?

Asaf Rashid at NB Media Co-op interviewed activist Max Haiven and asked him, among other things, about the role of students in faculty struggles. Here is part of his answer:

I think students shouldn’t stand with faculty if they believe that the university is a place to go buy a credential. If your belief is that university is basically the same as going to career college and buying a qualification that will get you a job then it makes no sense whatsoever for students to stand in solidarity with faculty. We can talk all we want about the high quality of education and the fact that faculty need to be well paid and have their academic freedom protected. But if your view of the university is solely that it is producing a product to be consumed then of course it wouldn’t make sense for students to stand in solidarity with faculty.

The reason why students need to stand in solidarity with faculty is not because of their own personal self interest, it’s because university is an important part of our society, an important part of cultivating educated thoughtful  and passionates citizens. If faculty are poorly paid or if they’re rendered more precarious in the sense that more and more faculty are part time temporary or if faculty don’t have appropriate research funding or if faculty can’t go to international conferences and present their work and if faculty aren’t allowed to be remunerated fairly then the whole edifice of the university as a critical societal institution crumples. And that’s really what we’re fighting for. We’re not fighting for “quality of education” as if it’s like the quality of a car or the quality of your shoes, as if these things will be affected by cuts. We’re really fighting for the ideals of society and that’s really what students have always done in a certain sense and really a very important role for students to take on. We’re not just saying pay our faculty fairly. We need to be saying we demand that the university be fully funded because it represents and it helps us to build the sort of society that we want. Without that I think we’re totally lost.

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Categories: Media