There are few entertainments as . . . entertaining as the Herren perfessers weeping over the decline of their discipline, but this piece from Bill Deresiewicz in, of course, La Nation, has a couple of stupendous paragraphs, like this one:
Still, there’s a difference between a Roger Smith firing workers at General Motors and the faculty of an academic department treating its students like surplus goods. For the CEO of a large corporation, workers are essentially entries on a balance sheet, separated from the boardroom by a great gulf of culture and physical distance. If they are treated without mercy, that is not entirely surprising. But the relationship between professors and graduate students could hardly be more intimate. Professors used to be graduate students. They belong to the same culture and the same community. Your dissertation director is your mentor, your role model, the person who spends all those years overseeing your research and often the one you came to graduate school to study under in the first place. You, in turn, are her intellectual progeny; if you make good, her professional pride. The economic violence of the academic system is inflicted at very close quarters.You have to marvel, really, at its grossness. It's one thing for some CEO to fire a bunch of uneducated workers, quite another to perpetrate such horrors upon members of the same class! My god, it's a mere pond of cultural difference, naught but a leaky faucet of cultural difference that divides them--no gulf here!
A few paragraphs later, Bill makes a point I do consider essential:
If we don’t make things better for the people entering academia, no one’s going to want to do it anymore.Bill means it as a Hosanna, but I read Hallelujah in every word.