Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why I Haven't Been Blogging Lately (A Good Excuse This Time)

Normally when this blog is dormant for long periods it's for some bullshit reason, like work or having a personal life. But this time, it's for something actually worthwhile.

As many readers already know, I'm part of a campaign to win recognition for Grad Student Workers United (GSWU-UAW). This is the 4th attempt to unionize graduate workers here at the University of Minnesota in the past 20 years. While previous campaigns have been defeated by administration misinformation and right-wing think tanks pouring money into defeating the union, this campaign is different.

We studiously poured over all available materials we could find from past campaigns to understand what went wrong and how we could avoid doing the same. And in that regard, we've been incredibly successful. We've had state and US senators and congressional representatives publicly state their support. The campus newspaper has come out in favor of the union. The graduate student government has come out in favor of a union, noting that student government can't negotiate with the university and instead only make recommendations the administration almost always ignores. Even a former Regent of the University has published an op-ed explaining why we need a union.

But most importantly, we've got a broad base of support across all disciplines and campuses. From chemical engineering to gender studies, from economics to aerospace, from sociology to mathematics, graduate workers in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth all demand a union.

And after three days of voting, early results are looking pretty good. But voting is still going on today and tomorrow, so the fight is far from over. Today the voting location is in my little corner of campus, so it's my day to turn out every single person on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota. Although we're all invested in the campaign and have worked all over every campus, there's some pride in making sure your corner of the world turns out in massive numbers, and you can bet your ass I'll make sure that happens.

So I'm off to spend the next 11 hours knocking on doors, making phone calls, and putting what feels like a couple thousand miles on my shoes as I pound the erudite pavement making sure we not only win, but win big and let the administration know it has no choice but to negotiate with us as equals and to respect the massive amounts of work we grad workers do to keep this university running.

I likely won't post again until next Tuesday after all the ballots have been counted and the results are official. I'm pretty optimistic that post will be the happiest I've ever written....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Break! Whoo!

Of the many things that suck about growing up, one of the biggest is losing spring break. Sure, as a grad student I still technically get spring break, as there are no students around so I don't have to teach this week. But I'm well past the point where spring break is anything more meaningful than giving me the 3 hours I would have otherwise spent teaching.

And it's not like I get to use those hours doing tequila shots in Cabo San Lucas, or whatever it is those damn kids do these days with their spring breaks. No, once you get past a certain point in academia, spring break mostly just means a week where campus is a lot more empty than usual. Otherwise, nothing changes about my week.

Granted, I know the entire rest of the world gets no spring break, so it sounds stupid of me to complain. But what gets me is that people still think I get a spring break, so while I'm stuck in my basement pounding out dissertation pages like I am any other week, everyone I know outside of academia assumes  I'm sitting on a sunny beach sipping pina colodas or some such thing. Not that I don't want to be, mind you.

So all of this is just to complain about the fact that I'm busy as ever, but for this week, the rest of the world thinks I'm on an awesome vacation. Nuts to that.

But since I'm well aware of the fact no one gives a shit about my petty problems, here's a picture of A-Rod taking his official publicity photo in the men's room:

This so excellently sums up all my feelings about the Yankees