Let’s check the list: privatization, corporatization, user fees, growing class sizes, contracting-out, constraints on academic freedom, casualization of the workforce, crumbling buildings, unsafe working and learning conditions, cola wars on campus, water fountains taken away for “retooling,” overcrowded classrooms, deregulation of fees, corporate research chairs, PR firms. Perhaps underfunding isn’t behind 100% of the problems we’re seeing in PSE. Let’s say it’s only behind 20%.
But it’s the first 20% — and it’s driving the remaining 80%. And until we restore an adequate base of public funding, we will forever be scrambling to find less effective, less accountable, less equitable, less efficient, less public methods of compensating for inadequate public funding in higher education. And with whatever time and energy is left over we can try to delude ourselves into thinking that somehow this is sufficient. Or we can refuse to contribute to the further underfunding of a system we all have a fundamental stake in, and combine our considerable efforts and expertise in making a hard left turn.