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January 16 2017

Professors Plan to Spend This Week Protesting the Trump Inauguration Instead of Teaching

So when, exactly, do the professors at the $65,000-a-year colleges where you send your kids get around to actually teaching something?

This week, for example, profs around the country plan to take the entire week off from teaching to do something vastly more important: protest the inauguration of  president-elect Donald J. Trump. But just keep writing those checks, parents--and also taxpayers, because many of the vacations--oops, I meant demonstrations of solidarity with the Trump-marginized--will be taking place at public universities.

Here'a a roundup (from Campus Reform) of all the exciting activities:

A national “teach-in” movement is asking professors to set aside class time between Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the presidential inauguration to “protest” oppression and challenge “Trumpism.”

The movement, known as “Teach, Organize, Resist,” is set to kick-off on January 18, strategically “poised between Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the presidential inauguration” as an explicit means of “challenging Trumpism.”

“Transform your classrooms and commons into spaces of education that protest policies of violence, disenfranchisement, segregation, and isolationism,” the organizers urge educators on the movement’s homepage, clarifying elsewhere on the site that participation “is an opportunity to affirm the role of critical thinking and academic knowledge in challenging Trumpism.”

Here's an example of some of the "critical thinking" that will be going on this week in our nation's ivied halls:

“On that day, we intend to organize against the proposed expansion of state violence targeting people of color, undocumented people, queer communities, women, Muslims, and many others,” the description continues. “On that day, we intend to resist the institutionalization of ideologies of separation and subordination, including white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, and virulent nationalism.”

Professors at 18 colleges and universities have signed up to partcipate. They include at least three branches of the publicly funded University of California:

Professors at the University of California, Santa Barbara, for instance, are asking “all UCSB faculty to actively support” the teach-in, even suggesting that they “insert a note” about it in syllabi or “use your regular class time to attend a panel with your students.”

And the elite private Scripps College, which charges a whopping $65,060 a year to attend, including nearly $50,000 in tuition alone:

Scripps College, on the other hand, will be hosting a teach-in on “conservatism and right wing movements,” which will discuss Republican “strategies and tactics of mobilizing support, producing consent, and fragmenting opposition” in order to “help fellow students understand our present political moment.

"Teach-ins" won't be the only campus activities this week as professors slough off their classroom duties in pursuit of something more exciting. Inside Higher Education reports:

Some anthropologists are taking a different approach. They are planning events that day in which people -- together at locations across the country or virtually connected -- will read and discuss a lecture presented by Michel Foucault, the late philosopher, as part of a series he gave at the Collège de France. 

This is fascinating: Instead of reading from your yellowed lecture notes, you read from someone else's yellowed lecture notes.

"This lecture strikes us as very good to think with at this present point: it demands we simultaneously consider the interplay of sovereign power, discipline, biopolitics and concepts of security, and race. In light of the current sociopolitical situation where the reaction to activism against persistent racism has been to more overtly perpetuate racism as political discourse, we need to remember and rethink the role of racism as central to, rather than incidental to, the political and economic activities of the state," wrote the two scholars who organized the effort in a blog post at Savage Minds. The scholars are Paige West, the Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College and Columbia University, and JC Salyer, term professor of practice at Barnard.

That should make for an exciting educational experience at Barnard. Barnard, being in expensive New York City, costs even more than the California-based Scripps to attend: a fat $63,220 a year.

West amd Salyer say that professors at four different colleges have signed on to the Foucault "read-in" idea. And:

'" Asked if they had any fears that supporters of Trump would mock their activity, they said, "No, of course not."

And anyway, who would ever dream of making fun of your anthropology prof using up class time to spend a full hour reading aloud from the impenetrable works of a postmodernist French philosopher?

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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