Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed: The Era of Artificial Scarcity, by François Furstenberg (Johns Hopkins University):
Administrators have rushed to embrace austerity measures. The faculty should call their bluff.
When does a $5,000 investment pay off with a $100-million return? No, this is not a tale of Wall Street chicanery or Reddit-inspired investing. Rather, it is a story of rank-and-file university employees mobilizing to defend their vision of university governance — and winning big.
Our story begins a year ago, just a month into the pandemic, when the Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels announced a set of “decisive austerity measures” in the face of anticipated revenue declines. These included layoffs, salary freezes, and a suspension of employee retirement contributions.
In a global pandemic that has killed over half a million Americans and confronted untold numbers with economic catastrophe, the travails of one elite university may not seem of great concern. Indeed, given the hardship the pandemic has wreaked on the sector, the suspension of retirement benefits at Johns Hopkins might appear downright trivial.
But it’s precisely the wealth of Johns Hopkins that turns this story into a parable. When an institution with almost $2 billion in reserves slashes employees’ benefits in the face of economic uncertainty, one begins to wonder if a set of ideological assumptions might not be at work. ...
Rather than bowing to alleged economic necessity, employees mobilized, questioning the leadership’s dogma, demanding independent verification, and pushing back against dubious assertions. As it turned out, we had a powerful weapon at our disposal, as do faculty members nationwide: a forensic audit.
April 12, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink