[Marxism] Re: From a college student

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Mon Mar 20 12:24:34 MST 2006

As a CUNY doctoral student and adjunct lecturer, I concur with Lou. Beyond
Lou's observations regarding the value of those $20,000 in real NYC terms,
the fact is that those TA's and adjuncts are paid $20,000 to do the work
that was formerly done by their $100,000/year peers. If you go back three
decades, there was no such thing as adjunct insruction. Lecture courses
were taught by professors. TA's assisted the professor, tutored and ran
lab sections for large courses (like my 2,000 student intro bio or chem
courses). Today, the majority of instructional positions in academia are
adjunct positions. Adjuncts lecturing, running lab courses, create course
curricula, evaluate sudents, etc. I realize that this is more the case at
CUNY schools than at NYU, but nevertheless, a teaching assistanceship or
ajunct teaching represent low-wage academic labor, a way for universities
to cut labor costs. As such, it eventually forces down wages and working
conditions for all academic labor.


>>I may be wrong. But my opinion on
>>these strikes is this: I do not support them. It seems to me that the TWA
>>and the GSOC (the graduate student
>>organization at NYU) have perverted the worker's most threatening defense
>>against exploitation, the right to
>>strike, in order to exploit their employers themselves. Graduate students
>>who work as assistants and instructors
>>receive free tuition and are paid a $20,000 stipend annually, and the
>>average salary of the MTA employees
>>surpassed that of attorneys. And yet, both went on strike for higher
>>wages. Is the right to strike not an
>>inherently socialist institution? How can the right to strike be abused
>> in
>>such a manner, in self-interest, at the
>>expense of not their respective employers, but the innocent bystanders?
>>NYU students had classes canceled
>>because graduate students refused to teach, and New York City came to a
>>standstill during the TWU strike.

Michael Friedman
Ph.D. Candidate in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior
City University of New York

Molecular Systematics Laboratory
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History
79th Street and Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Office: 212-313-8721

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