Month: April 2018

Reports from the Picket Line: Widespread Support for Columbia Graduate Workers

On Thursday, April 26, 2018, the Columbia grad workers’ strike strike received support from the Irish President, Michael Higgins. But more on that later. After the first two days of picketing, I was sunburned but energized by the past two days’ showing: over 1,000 graduate workers signed into our picket on the first day, with large enough turnout on the following (rainy) day to maintain pickets on the east and west entrances to Columbia’s Morningside campus. I’m a graduate student in environmental science, and my pay and future career prospects are tied to my research. As such I was...

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Reports from the Picket Line: Columbia Graduate Workers Hold the Line

The week has dwindled but our energy has not. This is immediately clear to me when I see the strikers start to crowd in around the check in desk at 11:00 sharp, even as rain begins to fall. Today our sign-in table and tent are set up further down from the sundial, as a number of barricades have now been set in place, blocking off our usual spot – not a coincidence, I think. I fumble myself into a poncho and ‘UAW on strike!’ sign, and as has become my custom throughout the week, I grab an orange bucket...

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City Sketches: East Coast/West Coast

Drawing, according to John Berger, is an act of discovery. “It is the actual act of drawing,” he wrote in 1953, “that forces the artist to look at the object in front of him, to dissect it in his mind’s eye and put it together again; or if he is drawing from memory, that forces him to dredge his own mind, to discover the content of his own store of past observations.” I would add that it is also a means of knowing, of analyzing critically the world around you. And it is this understanding of drawing that has spurred...

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Beware the Beast by James Livingston

The title for Installment 20, “Beware the Beast,” is inspired by the visions of William Blake. The various beasts remembered here blur the lines between heroic and pathetic. They are flashes in the rear view of those broken, precious things that love resolutely tries to salvage. *** First car I bought was a ‘58 Ford, cost me fifty dollars, Three speed on the column, we called him The Beast: Already rusty, never had enough miles an hour. I loved that old hound, but he kept on breakin’ down, Lou and I spent two days just replacing the clutch: Already...

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Reports from the Picket Line: Columbia Graduate Workers on Strike

Where it enters the popular imagination at all, graduate school conjures up images of isolation—the solitary graduate student, huddled over their books at 4 am, eschewing the affairs of the world in favor of the life of the mind. But isolation had no part in Tuesday’s events. In fact, the image of the isolated graduate student has been carefully cultivated, and is tacitly relied upon by the Columbia administration’s callous insistence that the labor graduate workers perform is not, in fact, labor. When President Lee Bollinger contends that “universities are special places in that sense of having a relationship...

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