This was Penn President Amy Gutmann’s total compensation in 2009, as reported yesterday by The Daily Pennsylvanian.
That number is a disgrace to those workers on this campus whose annual salary is $13,000; to the ones who are bureaucratically labeled as temporary so that they are barred from benefits; to those who are here full-time but who also do not receive benefits because our University continues to subcontract work out to an exploitative employer, even when challenged by its students on this matter; to the ones who cannot step in and say this themselves — who cannot partake in the deliberation our University’s president calls for in her work as a political theorist — for fear of losing their jobs.
That number is a disgrace to workers in Philadelphia, who would equally be disparaged for complaining about abusive power dynamics, who would be told that in a city where 41 percent does not participate in the labor market, they are the lucky ones, even if — among them — 40 percent have incomes below poverty levels.
“Go Occupy yourselves with a job!” This is what we have been told over the course of this movement, both by the 1 percent and by the 99. Here is my quantitative response, to speak in the language of our trustees: 13,000; 1,321,040.
And here is the qualitative, on my own terms: If Occupy serves to inspire our utopian ideals, we must address the immediate realities of these numbers — here at school and at work. We must challenge our professors who assert that growth is the unit of analysis for determining the success of a city and then intimidate us for offering Marxist counterpoints. We must challenge our managers who reprimand us for taking legally sanctioned breaks and then give us a high five to nominally assure us that we are part of the team. We must remind ourselves that although we may be getting by in relative terms, we can still think in the absolute. The 1 percent feels entitled to, and so should we.
President Gutmann, as someone who has paid your tuition fees, who has read your academic literature, who has repeatedly been suggested by your community of preprofessionals to pursue a course in life where my privilege would inevitably rest on the backs of others, including those whom I greet every day when I enter our restricted access library, I am outraged by your financialization — your dystopiazation — of this University, starting with your income statement.
This statement was endorsed by Occupy Penn at its weekly gathering outside Van Pelt Library on Nov. 16.
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