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Apr 04, 2002

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The tree of knowledge
I have witnessed decades of cutbacks in B.C. universities. I watched the downsizing, vanishing contact hours and courses, rising class sizes, corporate partnerships and all the rest. I watch administrations and governments repeat the same old tired priorities. I see autonomy applauded when it is the autonomy of the government, and attacked when it is the autonomy of the SFU community. Our homepage now makes me grimace at the claim we are an open, inclusive institution built on intellectual and academic freedom.

Yet an epidemic has not killed the tree of knowledge, i.e. that which is the public trust of any university. Rather design for profit and corporate self-interest have been hacking at it for decades. We will soon be left with a shrub of distorted prorportions by any standard but the conventions of greed. Under the pressure of the B.C. Liberal government western culture is seeing the victory of an attack akin to that experienced by intellectuals and artists in the Arab world.

Postmodern theorists did not destroy the tree of knowledge in the west. Neoliberals and pro-globalization forces did, and they continue to do so, after more than a decade of a war of attrition in the arts, by suggesting those of us not privileged by this Neoliberal system should keep quiet, while supporting anything attached to cash.

Given the provincial rejection of binding arbitration with doctors, and the administration's refusal to take seriously the position of the TSSU and students on tuition hikes, I believe SFU faculty should be prepared to defend the need for tenure in the New Error. Is there a defence for tenure when the tree of knowledge is hacked away for no reason but profit and lack of vision.

Ken Anderlini
Lecturer (limited term)
School for the contemporary arts

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