In my line of work, we do a lot of research on the state of higher education. And, like anyone who’s been working on a college or university campus at least within the last two years, you know that things are bad, and Magic 8 Ball could predict an outlook even more grim if it senses your employer is a public institution. When the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources and the American Association for University Professors released their annual salary reports this year, they showed that for more than half of the reporting institutions, faculty members either didn’t seen an increase in salary since the previous year, or worse, it declined. Of course, that doesn’t even account for any lay offs or furloughs occurring in that duration. Private schools, now feeling huge losses in endowments, are facing the same woes as public schools, and are left figuring out where to slash budgets and, obligatorily, raise tuition. Job security doesn’t mean shit anymore. And administrative staff (not including executive positions like Presidents and Chancellors) have felt it, too.
Meanwhile, the online publication, Inside Higher Ed, relayed USA Today’s reports of the appalling increases in the salaries of just the assistants to football coaches, raking in the higher end of six figure salaries, most of them at schools, of course, with superstar teams like Clemson and Florida State. In comments to the post, readers, presumably who are employed as professors, note that this is more than the combined salaries of some departments, which, to say the least, is appalling, especially considering the losses noted above for the rest of the campus. And these assistant football coaches (not even head coaches!) saw their salaries soar by almost a whopping 40%. It’s probably preaching to the choir, though, to say, that even if they continued to pay six figure salaries to these coaches, but something closer to $100,000 than say $1 million the unsung heroes of public education might actually have a modest increase in their take home pay instead. I think it’s failed to amaze me at this point how out of whack the education system is in the country, and the failure to see what kind of impact it’s going to have on the future. At this point any commentary on the sanctity of education is a line of PR bullshit.
This seems like as good a time as any for some passive aggressive protesting, taking cues from European stencil graffiti artists like Borf and Banksy and the Guerrilla Girls, and posting rogue advertising around town. Maybe it has that self-righteous liberal taint to it, especially since the people taking advantage of this had mostly been posting little messages on the front of newspaper vending machines. We could use a lot more than that, especially with all the baloney behind advertising and public campaigns. I’m so tempted to start doing this. Reclaim the fucking common sense, and hell, I encourage anyone else to do it, too. It just takes a permanent marker, maybe some plain white stickers, and a set of balls to pull it off.