Final Post for the Year from the Incomparable Evie WillWhittle.

Thanks to all of those who contributed comments and posts to Dissenter this year. The blog has grown enormously and is now an important site of resistance to the neo-liberal university. Best wishes to all readers for a happy festive season. See  you again in 2013

UWS Editorial Team

From ‘Robin (s) on the (looneyversity) Cruiser’

‘Just a castaway, an island lost at sea-o’

Dear Mission Control,

Just to let you know, I’ve arrived! Yep, it’s the future, and I think I got here first, although there’s lots of others here now, too. So, sorry but after some heated discussion I’ve decided against raising up your logo (Iwo Jima style) in salutation and celebration – I’m rather attached to my body parts.

I’m not sure how it happened, but I suspect it had a lot to do with that submerged galactic asteroid we’ve been trying to warn you about for sometime now. All I remember is some of us waving frantically to warn you, Mission Control, about suicide missions amidst the party you were holding on board to celebrate your travelling show. But anyway, we felt an awful smack and then a horrible grinding. People were thrown about like breadcrumbs in a blender (oopsie, there I go again…) and it may have been my imagination entirely but I think I really did see Leonardo and Kate floating away into the cosmic night to the celestial strains of ‘My Heart Will Go On’. Anyway, when you hit something that big at speed, something’s bound to happen. It might be stretching it a bit, but my theory is that I’m living proof that particle accelerators produce little black holes … I’ve lost some weight and seem to have grown at least six inches…

The future’s not at all what I expected, though. I thought I was washed up on the shore of some deserted planet with no-one here but me-o, but it turns out this where we all live these days thanks to climate change, and the unsustainability of lots of sustainability projects (I’m not directly pointing the finger at you, but you did put all that pasture to waste at Penrith Campus. How much was it, again? $40,000 to get the lawns mowed? And the budgets for the signage and infomercial promos? Outsourced consultancies? Executive Cars and Business class travel? – I was going to add catering, but the food (???) has  been so awful at functions for staff and students (where there’s been any funding at all) it’s my guess that this is one area where the looneyversity makes a profit!

But…the latest little sinker to wash up on the shore as I write my final star blog for the year is the ‘ipad’ thingy. Every new student and ongoing academic staff member will get one, ‘free’ (not really, there’s no such thing as a free lunch is there?). Whose great BIG idea was this?

How was this decision made and who made it, Mission Control? It’s not your money, see. It didn’t come up at any university committee I know? Who authorized the ‘biggy’, this time? Not Academic Senate as far as I can see, or the Board of Trustees ? Oh, Santa’s bag? Surely not? We’re all adults here, so go on tell us how you decided that this was going to give you a big bang for our bucks?

And how much did this brilliant fireworks of an initiative cost? Some of the academics you want ‘let go’ because of your big fat gargantuan ‘deficit’ (which is looking like a bit of a porky at the moment) are busily costing it. Conservatively, what? $4,000,000?? Apart from the fact that many students already will have one (or else have mobile phones that do the same job), it sends out the message that these shiny items are more important to education and knowledge than the courses you are cutting, and scholars you are making redundant (to say nothing of the existing holes in the IT coverage and really, how much money are you putting into the development of scholarly apps??). Oh, I get it now!! That’s why you want the economists gone! They’d do the math and model the lunacy! And I have to say, those scholars in Humanities did wonder where their Academic development program  and research travel money went? ‘Taking from Peter to feed Paul’, I’d say. What a meal it was too. An indigestible, radioactive carrot on a stick with the nutritional value of a glowing Big Mac. Well done, Mission Control, another fab recipe for nutritious, sustainable viability!

While we’re on the food front, we’ve a couple of agricultural scientists here doing a great job. We’ve even got a network up and running – funny thing about creative artists, give them a couple of bits of wire, and a few odds and sods thrown up on our shores from your shipwreck, and hey presto, the ‘internet’! In fact we’re doing so well on the sustainability thing that some of us have a little spare time on our hands and we’ve decided to give you lot a run for your money on the educational mission front. Forget about competition from the MOOCs, the talent is here and we’re setting up a modest little venture. We’ve got all sorts, here, shoe-horned out of their jobs, and they’re eager and mad as a rabid hornets. We’re going for a new galactic university of the cosmos. A University university. It will be free. A non-corporate university. No VCs or DVCs, their ‘mini-me’s, and their professional lifestyles to sustain. No ‘biggisms’ allowed. No ‘biggist’ thinking, or ‘biggerist’ language.  In fact, anyone using language like ‘future development fund’, ‘mission statements’, ‘key performance indicators’, ‘strategic plans’, ‘fixed costs’, ‘bench-marking’, ‘capitalisation’, or ‘implementation’ will be put in stocks, basted with toner, proffered to the fleas of a thousand camels, continuously (fully) body waxed, and ex-communicated while being made to watch (eyes sticky-taped open) a looped DVD (sorry, Blu-Ray – the picture’s clearer and sharper) of every policy document ever visited upon us.

The thing is, Mission Control, give a scholar a little freedom, a living, some company, and the prospect of a future and they’ll happily work all kinds of hours on their stuff (which is of course not your stuff is it – although you did try with the blended learning initiative over stuff we made, didn’t you). They’ll share it round too (as they never did it for the money in the first place), mostly for free, with due acknowledgement.

Anyway, it’s time to snuff my candle out (just joking!! We’ve actually got several sources of renewable energy, not the generalised methane that used to hang around our old graveyard of ideas). And, I’m not only sleeping again, but I’ve got time to write my professional memoirs. I’ve run a little survey for a title, You might be interested in some of the more sedate and publishable contenders : ‘My (not so) Brilliant Career’; ‘Crimeless and Punished (Anyway)’; ‘Blended Times’; ‘Bleak Tute’; ‘Paradise Remortgaged’, ‘Bureaucracy and Compliance’ (A Romance), ‘Endless Frankencommitteemeetingsthatgoroundandroundandround etc. etc. etc’, ‘A Nightmare on Second Ave’, ‘VCs are from Mars: DVCs from Venus’, ‘2012: A Space Lunacy’, ‘The Idioccy & The Iddiod’ (A journey to Hell and back in two Vols.).  The winner thanks to the collegial ‘Our Voice’ survey is ‘On the Rack’. Pre-sales are through the roof, although I am thinking of serializing and syndicating (for free, of course) on the advice of my publisher.

Over and out, Mission Control.