Issuu on Google+


The Universitvknowledge *for whom ,

/

2

‘the Chevron

But two factors have changed this somewhat. One is that business has become more and more concentrated in the hands of huge multinational corporations, whose continued maintenance requires large economic numbers of administrators, planners, and social manipulators who are either employed directly by the corporations, or exercise their socio-economit management functions as governmen t ’ employees. Since the old model of competitive, laissez-faire capitalism has been replaced by a corporate, planned, welfare state, there are quite a number of “social service” jobs dealing with welfare, pension plans, health insurance, social work, and so on. Most of these jobs require a great deal more education than was necessary in the past. The other factor is technology. Many employees today are trained scientists and technicians, who work in the corporations’ research labs and carry out technical functions all the way from the production line to the manning of the everpresent computers. These people, too, usually require a university education. Therefore, while just over half the employed labor force in Canada is still in the industrial blue-collar category, increasing numbers of workers are university edTraining ucated “professional” people. these workers is the most important of the functions of the modern university, and despite the persistence of the -elite, community of. scholars concept of the university, it is now a mass, public education institution in much the same way as the elementary and high schools. Now, it is true that the people who go to university still tend to be predominantly from the upper levels of society. According to the 1961 census of Canada, 23.3 percent of Canadian men are owners or managers of business (other than farms) or work at occupations that are classified as ‘professional’. Yet a 1965 survey by the Canadian Union of Students showed that 48 percent of Canadian university students had fathers who were members of the occupational group. The remaining 52 percent of the students came from 76.6 percent of the working population who are employees and farmers. The Dominion ’ Bureau of Statistics showed in 1964 that 54.1 percent of CanadTo understand what modern universities ian families make less than 5,000 dollars’ a do, one must first take a look at the nature year, a figure which despite inflation and of the modern labour force. Traditionally, wage increases, still remains about the the labor force in industrial society has same. Yet, the offspring of this income been composed almost entirely of people group comprise only 28 percent of the Even who do primarily physical labor. students. I those jobs that required a skill or a university There are many factors that produce craft were basically manual labor.

What’s a university for? “Teaching and research”, is the usual answer to that question, but unfortunately, it doesn’t say very much about what a university does. It does not tell us what is taught, who is taught, what the social purpose of the curriculum is, what research is done, or how research is used. It gives us a formal description, not the reality. Some people are not really very concerned about that because they perceive scholars to be free agents in society, neither employers or employees, people who stand aside from society to study it with detached objectivity. Universities are their specialty, protected preserves where they can contemplate the natural and social world, and pass their wisdom on to the young. This is a myth that is fortunately dying. It must die because it is so inaccurate that it becomes more and more difficult every day for even the most tradition-bound academic to apply it to what he experiences. But the idea that the university is somehow neutral, even though closely related to society, dies hard. There are consequently many ambiguities in current thinking about education ; for example the authors of the famous Hall-Dennis report on education say in one breath that schools should in no way be political, and in the next, that schools should inculcate the “national ideology”. The fact is that universities are not neutral-they cannot be neutral-but are integrated thoroughly into the structure of our society, and serve the interests of those who have the most power in society. In modern society, the most powerful institutions are the great (and usually American based) corporations, and the most powerful people are those ,who own and control the corporations. This group controls the economic power of society which provides the practical capability of solving problems and meeting people’s needs, all the way from building dams and railways and communications media, to providing houses, food and clothing. It is the interests of this powerful few that the university serves, above, and even against, all others.

this bias in the enrolment. One course, the cost. Even with the stud plans that have been implementec the 1965 survey, the cost of tuition, and living’ costs (which amount to $2,000 for an eight-month academic are still extremely discouraging, downright prohibitive, to families I less than five or six thousand do Low income people are VC year. luctant to borrow, and with good for they cannot afford to be in dc pay the interest on student loans. students today are completing their graduate education two-or three tl dollars in debt, and as unempll rises, their job prospects are nc good. However, even if the financial to go to university were equal al’ society, the universities would not less a servant of the corporate ow class. In fact, by the time peopl gone through high school, the bias ucation has already limited the tunities of many poor and workin people. Many studies have bee which show that the cultural and n background of lower income, 7 class children makes them less survive in the middle and uppe oriented “academic” stream w! the road to university, and are cons ly easily streamed into vocational which deny them university entrant problem is not so much that the voc courses are not useful, but that tht for each student is often determine class background. And the lower come of the family, the greater is essity for a child to get out of scl start supporting himself. And even if he goes to universit not likely to be able to break intc much better standard and qualit; The expansion of the universities opened the door for people in th strata to rise, but has only occurr far as it is necessary for maintail existing social hierarchy. For, ; tioned earlier, the increasing edu requirements for many working jobs makes a university educati essary not to give many peoplt jobs, but to get them any job at 2 CUS survey of 1965 showed that, el the considerable bias toward upper backgrounds amoung students, 81 had fathers who had never acqui university degree, and the fathe percent had had no education of ; <beyond high school. Yet young pt day must have a degree just to I the same socio-economic level tl


,

If d le 1t

It. g a

3-

1,

d Y d It Y 23 P 1”-

0 ‘S

tS e I1 e S l*h

S

Y

11 S

Ie

h e t Y

3 cl I-

n r

parents had had without one. Moreover.‘ as social power is increasingly concentrated in the hands of the owners of growing monopolies and conglomerates. the status of ‘*middle class” or professional jobs, in terms of social power and independence in their work. is decreasing. Consequently. in nearly every discipline. universities are preparing students to be workers who serve the corporate bosses. Technicians are often so specialized that they will be unable to comprehend the general nature of what their work is about. and accordingly make good employees ,Fho fit into 3 job *slot. and take orders from Scienabove without much ques-iioning. tists study nature in isolation from society. and accept the myth that they are not responsible for or competent to understand how their findings are implemented English students rarely are in society. en&raged to discover the social and historical backgrounds of the periods which gave rise to the literature they study:and consequently more easily accept the notion that cultural expression is a matter of individual inspiration which is beyond the capacity of the masses. who must be allowed to wallow in mediocre and sterile culture. History students learn about the genexploits of kings. nobles. bishops. seldom about erals and businessmen. labor movements and the history of “little” people. and they learn about events in isolation from historical processes. Hence. they are induced to believe that only the powerful few can make history. and they cannot comprehend the historical processes that must be understood if man is to be the master of his fate. Social science students are taught theories of behavior that exclude any understanding of human values: thus they become good social manipulators who will see such things as a workers’ strike for better wages or a movement for social change as a breakdown in the system that should be prevented. Economics students learn theories that support the pursuit of profit. which led one University of Waterloo economics professor to tell his class earlier this year that the way to fight inflation is to freeze wages-not profits. rents. and prices. In nearly every field. specialization so fragments any understanding of the world. that students find society so incomprehensible that they can only permit the powerful few to go on making the decisions. The other principal function of the universities is the carrying out of research. and once again this “pursuit of truth“ Its serves profits more than people. characteristics are quite similar to those

of the course material taught to students. for it is based on the same values. philosophies. and methodologies. The funds for research come largely. from government agencies such as the Defense Research Board and the Canada Council. and from industry. Rarely will any funds go to a project that is not in the interests of the powers-that-be. But more significantly. regardless of where the money comes from. or what the hopes of the researchers are. their findings are implemented only insofar as they are financially profitable or improve the administrative stability of the corporate society. One can find many examplesof how this requirement of profitability prevents research from meeting people’s needs. A University of Waterloo scientist recently wrote that the technical means of ending pollution exist. But look around. and we find that few are being used. that little is being done to implement these means politically and economically. In the US. a medical researcher told an ABC news reporter not long ago that if the government would give the same priority to medical research that is given to the space program. he could guarantee that cancer could be wiped out in ten years. Yet American medical research centres while the incredibly are being closed. profitable space and missile industry expands. and employs -nearly all the available American research scientists. And the list can go on and on. It is the nature of th& market which makes the job-training aspect of the university what it is. Universities are supported insofar as they can produce the human capital necessary to profitable production. and most students demand the courses that will make themselves salable commodities on the job market. It is because they are being trained to be profit producing commodities for the corporations. rather than people who can freely and creatively use their knowledge

to benefit their fellow man. that students often complain : “My courses are irrelevant”. Some people are beginning to become openly critical of this kind of system. They are beginning to see that their education serves profits more than people. and that they themselves are not an elite. but a part of the labor force being trained to act for the elite over and against the rest of the labor force. Last year, for example. a delegation of students from the University of Waterloo Engineering Societies to the Congress of Engineering Students in Montreal made the following comment in the briefs that they wrote : “The desire of the people in control of the major corporations of this country to make more and more money is seemingly incompatible with the necessity of providing people with a better living condition”. They perceived that there is a conflict in their own profession between the employer engineer. and the majority of engineers who are employees. They saw that the employee engineer has a great deal more in common with the less educated working people than with his professional colleague who is in an ownership or management position. “It is morally inconceivable that one can justify professional people “scabbing”. when people are outside on the picket lines fighting for what they believe is necessary to their comfort and happiness. A respect for unions is essential in this regard. and a disrespect for the common rules of humanity is indefensible.” And they added: “...unlike the true decision-makers. it is the engineer who must influence a chan& ing attitude...It is the professional engineer %ho must join in the fight for humanization of working conditions. both within the ranks of their profession, and outside. in the ranks of the people who freeze on picket lines for another five cents an hour. ’ ’

A number of other students and some professors have been working to redirect the universities toward the service of working people. Their work has included such things as: l the critical analysis of aspects of the curriculum and research which bias it in favour of the continuing power of the corporate owners. l pressing for changes in curriculum and asking that new areas of research be entered into. such as. fcr example. labor history. l doing some research and studv in their free time. and working with *offcampus people such as labor. tenants. welfare recipients. and Indians. on matters neglected by universities. or handled by them in an anti-human way. l pressing for more democratic university decision-making structures that will allow changes to occur without the conflict that presently results when changes are demanded in the existing rigidly au thori tarian system. l pressing for a student aid system that will allow all people to have equal financial accessibility to university without the necessity of going into debt. l urging a greater recognition of the common interests of students and working people by such programs as urging students not to scab against workers while on summer jobs. Unfortunately, such people are still a minority, and they are frequently branded by university administrators and the press as irrational, building-burning anarchists, or ungrateful ‘brats, much in the way that business, government and the press h;ts traditionally slandered the labour movement. Moreover, they cannot succeed, even if their views become accepted by the majority of university people, without similar changes throughout society. The universities Ean only serve working people if working people get together and demand mat changes be made.

fhda y 70 april

1970

3


Housing costs still going up .

Housing has long been an issue of major concern, but in recent years the situation has become critical. The Economic Council of Canada estimates that 41 percent of Canadians live on or below the poverty line ($1,800 for a single person; $4,800 for a family with five children. ) The average income (1967) for Kitchener-Waterloo was only $5,448; average family earnings amounted to $6,800. In 1967 an income of $7,000 was reauired to get an NHA loan. The figure is now about $8,300. What hope is there that the average working man will ever be able to own a home, especially when you consider that a $25,600 mortgage costs $62,000 over 25 years, $72,090 over 30 years, $81,000 over 40 years? These figures are calculated at 9 percent. NHA loans cost about 9.8 percent and conven%onal mortgage rates run to 10.11 percent. The average selling price of a home in-KitchenerWaterloo for new and used homes together in december 1965 was $17,137; in december 1966, it was $19,415; and by december 1967, it had risen to $21,683. Mortgage rates (NHA insured loans) have risen from 6.25 percent in 1965, to 8.25 percent in 1966; and are now approaching 10 percent. Given this high rate of interest, and the increasingly hight income needed

How Ontario Next time you open your pay envelope, look at the amount deducted for Ontario Health Services Insurance Plan. Last year the Ontario government. overcharged the workingman of Ontario $39,000,000 for medicare. Thats right, thirty nine million dollars! And where did the money go which was milked from your pay cheques? One place it went was to giant American and Canadian corporations who are sharing in the biggest steal in Canada’s

to even apply for a loan, Kitchener-Waterloo residents are increasingly being forced to rent homes or apartments. From 1961-66 there was a 7 percent drop in home ownership and a corresponding 7 percent rise in tenant occupation. However, from 1963-66, rents increased an average of $3.80 a month! A family with a low income and several children will find that the rent required for adequate accommodation is extremely high. Of almost 2,000 families surveyed in a K-W apartment study, 38 percent had an income of less than $5,000 per year, and 60 percent had an income of less than $6,000. This fact would suggest that the lowest income families are not living in multiple residential units (high rise apartments or town houses) which averaged $140 a month in 1966. Since they could not afford their own single homes, it appears that these people are living in converted houses or above commercial establishments. ‘_ While the government recommends that, ideally, a family should spend about 25 percent of its income on housing, most are paying 40 percent. Rents and housing costs continue to skyrocket. What are the component parts of the cost of a house? According to a survey done by the National Research Council in September 1968, this is the breakdown for an $18,000 home: land cost, overhead and profit-41.2

robs

the poor

percent; materials and equipment rental-45 percent; labor-13. percent. This seems to destroy the popular myth that rising wages are a prime factor in the increased cost of housing. The price of land has risen over 100 percent since 1962 and the cost of servicing, over 125 percent. Someone is making ai profit on housing at the expense of most homeowners or potential buyers. From all indications it is the land speculators and investment dealers who are forcing prices up and increasing inflation.

to pay

the&i

history. Last year the Ontario ’ medicare rates range from free their use by companies to “ragovernment handed over more coverage in Newfoundland and tionalize” their corporate opthan $30,000,000to such “needy” is, to re-arrange Nova Scotia and 55 cents a month erations-that corporations as Kraf t Foods, for a single person in Manitoba their operations for I . greater effiAllied Chemicals, Domtar, Union ($1.10 per month family rate) to ciency and profitability:r, In *itCarbide, Westinghouse, Uniroyal, $14.75 month (family rate) in On- self “rationalization” would appand General Foods-and you paid tario. To make matters worse, ear to be neither wrong nor for it. while most other provinces pay dangerous to their employees’ How does it all work? First of 100 percent of the doctor’s bill, welfare. However, in the case of all, Ontario has the highest me- Ontario pays only 90 percent. As at least two of the largest comdicare rates in Canada. Of the a result of such high premiums panies-Canada Wire and Cable seven provinces which have join- and minimum services, the On- (grant of $187,083) and Westinged the federal medical services tario government took in over house (grant of $250,000) the plan (P.E.I., New Brunswick $296,000,000 in OHSIP premiums money was used to close down and Quebec still have not joined) last year, and paid out only $257,- operating factories in one area and OOO-leaving a clear profit for to open new factories in other the government of $39,000,000. (lower paid) areas, throwing In contrast with its practice of hundreds of union men out of squeezing every last penny out of work. In both cases these comthe working tax-payer, the Ontar- panies are foreign owned and conneither displayed terloo Lutheran University, and io government displays a striking trolled-and generosity towards its friends, any responsibility for the men Conestoga’s Adult Education the giant corporations. Over the they had thrown out of work durCentre. proIt was decided by the members past year the Tories have issued ing this “rationalization” that the LSPC ‘would first con- gifts totalling $30,000,000to cor- cess. The Tory government’s friendcentrate it’s efforts upon pro- porations out of the public treagrams of public awareness, such sury under the “Equalization of liness towards the huge American corporations shows up in other as this newspaper. In doing so, Industrial Opportunity Program.” the committee could not only help Included in the $30,000,000 was ways as well. Grants to American to create an informed public, but $16,000,000handed to 77 “needy” coporations average more than the members could also get to American companies such _as $201,000each while those to Canaknow one another and to share General. Foods (who got $250,000) dian corporations averaged about whose profit last year alone was $135,000 each. information and ideas. So that’s how it is in Ontario. Co-operation between stu- more than $100,000,000, and who The workingman is overcharged dents and working people is not already had retained earnings $39,000,000 in OHSIP payments entirely new. Over the past for investment of $450,000,000. so that the Ontario government couple of years there have been The excuse that the Ontario can pay American corporations government makes to cover this a few, intermittent attempts at to buy up Canada. Of course, one joint action. But the LSPC hopes gigantic give-away of your health shouldn’t ovetlook the fact that that it can replace occasional care dollars, is that these gifts $14,000,000of the 30 million handcooperation with ongoing com- ar$ “loans”, not grants. They ed out under EIO went to Canadian munication and joint activity, and are, however,‘ mighty strange corporations. After all, the Tories loans, since the government recreate a genuine basis of mutual fuses to reveal the terms under hav; rich friends in Canada too understanding. which they are granted, except who wouldn’t want to be left off For more information about to say that they will be “forgiv- the gravy train. And besides, you the Labor Student Political Comen” in five years, and pay no wouldn’t want Mr. Randall to be mittee, contact Bob Hopf, at unfair or discriminatory when interest. 749-9324, or Tom Patterson, at One of the most interesting by- he hands out your money. Would 744-6.111,ext. 2534. products of these loans has been you?

Editorial

The basic interests of working people and students are largely the same. Yet4 in the past students and labor have not only been apart from one another, but have often worked against one another. It has too often been the case that students and labor have viewed one another with suspicion, ‘and have missed opportunities when their joint efforts could have solved a common problem. The Labor-Student Political Committee hopes to overcome this separation, to bring students and working people together to work on solving the I problems they share. The LSPC was initiated through the efforts of Bob Hopf, chairman of the Kitchener-Waterloo Labour Council’s political action committee. The group includes members of the political action committee, and students from the University. of Waterloo, Wa-

4

1064 the Chevron

c


1969-70_v10,CommunityIssue_Chevron