OWS, Higher Education and Faculty Rights (Hey, Brother, Can You Spare a Parking Space?)

Breaking news from Columbus, Ohio, where a new “occupy” movement is afoot.

Faculty at Ohio State University (OSU) are steaming because the university’s chief financial officer Geoffrey Chatas, formerly managing director of the Infrastructure Investments Fund at JP Morgan Asset Management, is threatening to bring the money-grubbing tactics of Wall Street to 12th Avenue.

Listen as faculty churn waves of dissent, engulfing the OSU campus in a tsunami of righteous protest, as the 99 percent rise up against The Man. As always, the first wave speaks to time-honored principles of the academy:

One of the more vocal opponents of the plan is Gordon Aubrecht, a professor of physics and president of the American Association of University Professors chapter at Ohio State.

“I think it has to do with the idea of a university as a community,” he said.

Professor Aubrecht’s communitarian rallying cry is echoed by fuming emeritus Professor of Physics Bernie Mulligan:

“What we are really doing is selling a part of the university where we will have less ability to control our own environment,” Mulligan said. “We should have had public meetings months ago, not now as catch up.”

Even OSU President Gordon (“I Quit! I Got a Better Job!”) Gee is getting into the act, attempting to calm the waters with rhetoric straight from the script of the OWS playbook:

we must seek fundamentally new ways to fund our core purposes.

But wait a minute. The faculty and the president united in common cause against the CFO? Can it possibly be true? Of course not, silly. Let’s hear more of President Gee’s address to his faculty:

We are currently discussing whether to lease the management of parking on campus for two reasons. One, parking does not, has not, and will never define greatness in a University. And, two, removing parking from the list of our daily tasks could provide a significant, immediate source of revenue that could be used in pursuit of greatness.

What do we want? Parking! When do we want it? NOW!

Parking can be turned into new academic facilities and new academics. Parking can be transformed into a foundation of funding that furthers our mission – today, and into the future.

You got it. Parking. The storm of protest roiling Columbus is all about parking. And wouldn’t you know? Just like OWS, the origins of OOSU lie in North America’s very own heart of darkness—Canada.

Police arrive at the scene of Occupy Aisle 7.

President Gee sheepishly admits delivering a major speech about parking places is not “enobling,” but I think he is selling himself and his speech writers short. Compare the president’s stirring defense of the university’s right to outsource to its rhetorical model:

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground….we here highly resolve that…this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

You will never, ever lose a bet by underestimating academics’ ability to magnify the trivial and trivialize the magnificent. And the next time you are tempted to ascribe idealistic goals and motivations to an “occupy” movement, think about the faculty at Ohio State putting it all on the line for parking.

An OOSU protester maintains academic standards–pipe in one hand, weighty tome in the other–as the people’s action for convenient parking enters its fifth week.

5 thoughts on “OWS, Higher Education and Faculty Rights (Hey, Brother, Can You Spare a Parking Space?)

  1. Well, it depends. The professors will tell you they are part of the 99%, so in theory they would be against tax deductions.

  2. Am I the only one who can recognize a constitutional crisis? This has 13th Amendment written all over it. if these evil and greedy parking “policies” don’t smack of involuntary servitude i don’t know what does. And it’s not a coincidence that the Bush family quietly acquired controlling interest in the world’s largest parking meter manufacturer several months ago. Today Columbus, tomorrow Indianapolis.

  3. Pingback: Gee, Did I Say Something Wrong? | Call Me "Miss"!

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