For 10 years, the blog Academia.hypotheses.org has been documenting ongoing evolution in French universities — work conditions, governance, attacks on acadmic freedom in France and worldwide. Considering the recent political moves in France and elsewhere, the editorial board is willing to alert colleagues and students in France and abroard with a view to get organized.
We launch an open appeal to organizations and individuals feeling concerned and willing to get together. Academia has the administrative support of OLADE. Already more than 100 scholars and scholarly organizations from 18 countries have endorse the appeal, translated in 11 languages.
→ To endorse the appeal, use the online form ←
Place de la Sorbonne, automne 2009. Crédit: Olivier Long
Academics of the World, Unite!
We, French academics, whatever our position or status (as students, teachers, researchers, administrative and technical staff), either as individuals or gathered in collective organizations, are engaged in a relentless struggle for the defense and protection of the University, its public service, its mission to teach and to research; a struggle for access to all and for independence from all powers, including economic power.
However, our situation has become increasingly difficult. We are faced with ever-increasing attacks from all sides; exhaustion and discouragement have driven a growing number of academics to capitulate to fear, and to contribute directly to the ongoing process of disintegration in exchange for a sliver of power. We are face-to-face with a machinery that we are powerless to stop. To resist a process that goes beyond French borders, we call on all academics, European and other, to form a collective organization for discussion and action.
The key issues have been discussed many times. No one can deny that the University has been deliberately pauperized by the systematic exploitation of sustained insecurity. We all know inequalities within the University are soaring, intensified by a permanent process of selection and assessment. No one can ignore that academic freedom is consistently curtailed by an ideological and institutional system, at once ‘neo-liberal’ and authoritarian, that commodifies the University and brings it into line with its own values.
But those are mere abstractions. They are nothing compared to the brutal situation we have experienced in recent months. In France today, academic stress is at a tipping point. More and more, students go hungry; their mental health is impaired; they fear for the future. More and more, young, clear-sighted teachers and researchers are bailing, often without regrets, sometimes devastated. Meanwhile, administrative and technical staff are literally fleeing their jobs. More and more experienced teachers are on leave from burnout, sometimes for a few months, sometimes for years. Meanwhile, in Parlament, in the papers, on television and on social networks, political attacks on the University pile up in the name of the fight against so-called Left extremism and Woke. Worse: while the Far Right multiplies its attacks, law enforcement agencies are taking over campuses that are in the process of organizing, called in by university chancellors who are perfectly aware of the extreme violence perpetrated by a police force infiltrated by the Far Right.
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