Dear fellow colleagues, administration, and especially students,
Though we cannot abandon hope that our local representatives--John Gordner and David Millard--will work to resist a PA-budget that can only be described as grossly irresponsible, we cannot trust them either. Here's what Millard said to reporters right after Corbett announced his budget proposal: "Obviously, if you're going to shift money...there's going to be losers" (Press Enterprise, 3.9.11).
"Shift"? That's code for more tax payer dollars going to prisons and to the subsidizing of the natural gas industry in a state that graces 70% of its corporates entities with paying NO corporate income taxes.
Corbett's aims, moreover, have as little to do with fiscal responsibility as do Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's, namely, zero. Corbett's aims are ideological; his strategy is simply different. Instead of going after the right to collective bargaining directly--and risking the public outrage this despotic move rightly inspires--Corbett goes after the funding of precisely those institutions whose workforces are unionized. Corbett's aim is simply to accomplish without all the noise the same goal--union-busting. Perhaps it would be better to call Corbett's strategy "union-bleeding," or "union-gutting."
But make no mistake about it--his objectives are precisely the same--his strategy's just more insidious. And his objectives are to effectively sell-off Pennsylvania, its labor force, and its resources to the corporations that support his party: The Tea Party Republicans. There is no point in being polite or "carefully worded" about this fact. This is a fact.
The sentiment that "the university system will survive" is a nice one--but it is no more than that. If what survives is a shell easily converted into a trade school whose primary curricula cannot be but trivially called "education," then it would be better for it not to survive.
I am in no way suggesting that we are at this point--but what I am suggesting is that this is no time for hopeful pleasantries with our elected representatives. This is a time where we must FIGHT:
FIGHT for our student's right to a real education.
Fight for the right to collectively bargain for a decent wage and decent working conditions.
FIGHT for a university system worthy of that title.
For if we don't, we will have earned precisely what we deserve: a gutted PASSHE that makes a mockery of the phrase "PUBLIC higher education."
Let us take up this fight together.
Wendy Lynne Lee
Wendy Lynne Lee, Professor
Department of Philosophy
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
Bloomsburg, PA, USA 17815