Well, several of my students are on that stage in the picture (and tell me they were threatened with disciplinary action by the administration). Almost none of them were claiming ‘fascism’ was their primary cause– they were exercising their freedom of speech to object to national politics, and to the ways that neoliberal capitalism has hollowed out higher education. The students recognize that there are few public universities so close to functioning as private entities, nor is there any public or private educational institution in the country which has a closer corporate identification and greater donor influence (which inevitably comes with a loss of autonomy)– the sign reads CEO for a reason. Appearances ARE important to CEOs charged with burnishing image and raising capital, and there is an ugliness to the spectacle of an University President ridiculing and shaming his most conscientious and politically engaged students in a national public editorial. It is also– opportunistic? absurd?– to use the same editorial to pat oneself on the back and tout the ‘progress’ made toward racial justice made at an institution which has gained a national reputation for racial backwardness, thanks to local Law Professors who just last year favored blackface, and a longstanding problem with unreckoned supremacist institutional history.
(posted from Facebook)