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The Point: Canaries, Coal Mines, Common Good


Hello Colleagues,

Just as the devastating virus is following different timelines on a state-by-state basis, so too are its collateral effects unfolding along varied chronologies. In the arena of higher education, this means that all of us who teach in the University of Massachusetts system might do well to study the evidence of what is currently happening in Michigan, Ohio, and other states where the devastating practices of  austerity are being deployed. 

Furloughs, layoffs, and more are already on the table and the most vulnerable among us are, of course, at most risk.  Those who have paid even cursory attention to the politics and economics of public higher education policy are probably not surprised to notice that Ohio University targeted our colleagues in African American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies first.  On May Day no less (

In this apple-cart tipped era of Zoom-centric education, in addition to learning how to create breakout rooms and raise our little blue hands, perhaps the most important thing we all need to do is figure out how to “unmute” at the right time.  There will be dozens of ways to do this in coming weeks—on our campus, at the State House, in our local communities, and elsewhere.

Here’s one way some of our colleagues around the country have raised their voices:

Let us know what you are thinking about and how you want to be involved. 

This is your union.


Jeffrey Melnick

Graduate Program Director, American Studies Department

Communications Director, Faculty Staff Union Executive Committee

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