Administrators occupy Anthony Hall

By August Spies

Enamored by recent student occupations of administrative buildings at universities across the globe, administrators at Southern Illinois University seized space in Anthony Hall, refusing to leave until they make history.

“We’re not making history per se,” qualified one anonymous administrator who no doubt makes more than anyone reading this. “Like all revolutionary classes, we’re exploding the continuum of history, to paraphrase the late Walter Benjamin.”

One higher-up in the academy sited the pointlessness undergirding all the structural violence within institutions of higher learning as a justification for occupation.

“Anthropologist David Graeber is right,” one of those atop the academic hierarchy said. “We live in a time of total bureaucratization. The university has become a degree factory that only a select few – namely, those like me and those heading the financial institutions issuing all the loans with interest to students who cannot afford the exorbitant costs associated with higher education today – benefit from. Even though – or perhaps because – I’m a beneficiary with a sweet six-figure salary, I feel empty inside. That’s why I occupy.”

Another Anthony Hall occupier stretched parallels between these efforts at SIUC and the ongoing occupation of the main administrative building at the University of Amsterdam, the Maagdenhuis.

“Occupiers in Amsterdam are right to reject the way major decisions within the university are made by managerial elite – that is, by those like us – who are largely unaccountable for the consequences of those decisions and remain removed from the concerns of those most impacted. Those in positions of power within the university – that is, we – should not be making top-down decisions that force injurious workloads and unreal expectations on graduate assistants and adjunct faculty who bear the brunt of our concentrated power. Democratize and decentralize!”

Those occupying the Vera Anstey Suite at the London School of Economics are onto something, one dean at SIUC, reveling in the rebellion, said to unlikely comrades.

“The LSE occupiers called for ‘a drastic reduction in the gap between the highest and lowest paid employees,’ as well as authentic university democracy in the form of ‘a student-staff council, directly elected by students and academic and non-academic staff, responsible for making all managerial decisions of the institution,’” the dean recounted. “I’m down for all that. Creating this non-hierarchical space here with my colleagues with this Anthony Hall occupation, this might be a step in that direction. I really don’t know though. It’s hard to tell. The ideological fog gets pretty thick up in this privileged strata of academia, so I could be wrong.”

Whether the administrator-initiated Anthony Hall occupation – or anything administrator-initiated – can be a step in the right direction is probably just an academic question, the dean added.

“Sure, to carry this through means elimination of all of our privileges and perks – and gee whiz, those things are great – but there’s a ‘subterranean fire’ that has started,” the dean said. “We can’t put it out.”

 

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