Week 3: The Neoliberal University in the Age of Information and Excellence – Comments on the readings
I found the reading material (Bosquet and Readings) particularly arduous this week. First, Bosquet begins by insulting me (as a healthcare worker) then goes on to insult the millions of people whose livelihoods and families depend on their wages and benefits through employment at McDonalds or Wal-Mart. I mean, wholely carp, dude, bitter much? Blatant distain for us hardworking people does nothing to recommend your message and in fact just makes your argument look like sour grapes. Additional, the elitist language (or, as one Amazon.com reviewer called it “vaguely theoretical jargon”) does nothing to invoke sympathy for the lowly unappreciated PhD student.
Getting beyond the smog of animosity that is Bosquet’s introduction, both he and Readings submit that the University is no longer a cultural institution of the state, but is now being run as big business. Less interested in producing thinking members of society and primarily focused on raking in money, thereby justifying its own existence. Both contend that that the educators are no longer in charge, but rather, the administrators. Readings claims that the University is now regarded in terms of “excellence” instead of “culture”. “Excellence”, Readings says, is really an empty notion as it describes nothing of content; it is “not a fixed standard of judgment but a qualifier whose meaning is fixed in relation to something else.”
For academic librarians, the University as a money making machine presents challenges. As the other readings for this week support, academic librarians are less often given the security of tenure status and are more often being relegated to academic support personnel. Funding for library services could also take hit, as administrators funnel it to areas (perhaps sports programs) where financial profits can be realized. For persistent, outspoken, motivated, librarians who don’t mind generating their own funding from other creative means, the challenges are manageable.