The Graduate Employees Organization’s latest contract negotiations and last week’s dugout-style chants for solidarity-in-the-face-of-the-evil-oppressor have been wildly entertaining. It’s been delightful to see the University searching in vain for a subtle way to call GEO organizers whiny little brats, the undergraduate GEO cheerleading squad insisting that depriving graduate student instructors of childcare is a crime against humanity and the vocal opposition voicing insightful words of dissent (e.g. “GSIs suck!”); I could hardly decide who to laugh at first.
I am pro-GSI; I recognize the contributions they make to my education. I am pro-union. I am pro-GSIs-having-unions. There’s nothing better than a group of people whose express purpose is to damn the Man (or the University, as it were) whenever it sees fit, even if the Man/University in question is benevolent and not in need of damning. The Man and the University tend to be honest more often when they think others are watching.
Unions have high self-esteem. Unlike individual workers, who are small and weak and mumbly, unions do not ask nicely. Unions demand. But once the demands surpass a certain level of absurdity (a completely subjective level which only I and others I deem of comparable intellectual prowess are capable of identifying), the battle hymns start to sound suspiciously like whining.
Ask any 22-year-old waitress who is paying her own rent and tuition and taking out her own loans if she thinks GSIs should have access to free childcare. She will say, “Childcare? They’re going to graduate school for free. Cry me a fucking river. And hand me that ketchup while you’re over there.” Is it because she lacks a full understanding of the plight of the downtrodden GSI? Does her blas