Author Archives: Claire Potter

November 20, 2014, 8:12 am

Harvard Housekeepers Strike, Rally

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If you remember this one, you are as old as me.

Citing “pain and sometimes life-altering injuries” acquired while working at the Harvard-owned Doubletree in Allston, housekeepers went out on strike this morning at 5:30 a.m.

What do they want? They want to join a union, something they originally approached Harvard about in 2013.

The workers, who claim they are the first housekeepers in Boston history to go out on strike, are assembling at 9:30 and 5:00 at Harvard’s Science Center Plaza, supported by students and clerical workers.

As an aside, one wonders what Harvard is doing owning a hotel in the first place. Small colleges often build, or partner with hotel chains, to maintain a hotel (Williams and Wesleyan come to mind) because otherwise there might literally be nowhere for visitors to stay, much less a…

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November 16, 2014, 10:15 am

Sunday College Roundup

This sweet guy is Derrick Gordon, first out gay man to start a DI college hoops game.

This sweet guy is Derrick Gordon, first out gay man to play in a DI college hoops game.

A powerful essay by Yale professor of women, gender and sexuality studies Inderpal Grewal about why racial and gender diversity on the faculty matters to how women, people of color and queers are treated on campus. Check out the section of the comments thread where someone (presumably a Yalie but maybe not) claims WGSS is not getting adequate resources from the university because the courses are easy A’s, providing even more evidence for what Grewal has argued.

This week, Derrick Gordon, of the University of Massachusetts, the first men’s DI college basketball player to come out as gay, started his first game since the announcement on April 9. Note to campuses trying to recruit talented scholar-athletes: he chose UMass be…

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November 14, 2014, 10:10 am

I Want To Borrow Gobs of Money for College (Said No One Ever)

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How are educational debt and assumptions about student borrowing related to other forms of financial fraud perpetrated under deregulation?

In “A House is Not A Credit Card,” Bethany McLean of The New York Times points out the obvious: encouraging people to take money out of their home equity for consumer spending was a major factor in a foreclosure crisis that is not yet over. “A sizable percentage of mortgages — including most of the risky ones that were made in the run-up to the financial crisis — are not used to buy a home,” McLean writes. “They’re used to refinance an existing mortgage. When home prices are rising and mortgage rates are falling, many homeowners choose to replace their mortgage with a bigger one, taking the difference in cash. In other words, mortgages are a way to provide credit.”

Well here’s the news: people also take a lot of money out of their…

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November 12, 2014, 9:22 am

J. Edgar Hoover Uncensored

mag-16Lede-t_CA0-blog427Yale’s Beverly Gage has an essay in the New York Times about the famous letter sent to Martin Luther King on November 18, 1964 accusing him of being “a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that.” The letter, sent by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as part of its COINTELPRO operation intended to disable radical movements in the United States, catalogues a range of sexual misbehaviors. It uses the word “evil” multiple times, as Gage points out; and concludes with the well known phrase: “There is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is.”

We have known about this letter for years, but it has always appeared in redacted form, and those who have used it have always presumed that it was intended to push King to suicide. But was that actually its purpose, and under what circumstances would Hoover have imagined that a man schooled in non-violence, a…

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November 5, 2014, 11:36 am

What Would Phyllis Schlafly Do? A Grassroots Education Policy for 2016

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While you were talking about Lena Dunham, Phyllis and her friends were getting the vote out.

You know that political culture is in complete disarray when large numbers of feminists, who otherwise believe that every other issue they hold dear will be put in jeopardy by a Republican Congress, are arguing about whether Lena Dunham is a sexual predator (or not) rather than getting the vote out on Election Day. I didn’t see one Facebook post in my circle from academics who were pounding the streets, working the phones, or driving the elderly to the polls one at a time.

Could we progressives get over cultural politics that divert us from actual policy agendas and electing knowledgeable people who know how to govern? This is the greatest weakness in both parties right now, but in this round it was the Democrats who to…

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October 26, 2014, 7:47 am

Academic Life Made Simple: Five Things to Think About

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Thinking about behavior and attitudes that are taken for granted in the academy can be useful.

These are not the only five things, but here goes:

When discussing a problem at your university with colleagues, think twice before laying wholesale blame on “the administration.” You might ask: when there are so many administrators to blame for so many things, why not? Here’s why: other than alienating lots of decent, hard-working administrators who actually make our work lives possible, even poorly functioning universities are not made up of opposing teams scoring points on each other. Some administrators will publicly support policies they disagree with, and oppose privately, because that is the expectation in a hierarchical organization. In addition, blaming a faceless “other” actually impedes what needs to…

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October 18, 2014, 11:00 am

Feminism and Country Music: Gasoline and Matches?

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Connie Britton, a.k.a, Rayna James: the people’s feminist?

The Radical household caught up with Nashville last night, one of our favorite shows. Serious debate ensued.  Will Juliette Barnes keep the baby? How very doomed is Deacon Claybourne’s new relationship with Luke Wheeler’s backup singer, since he will always be in love with Rayna Jaymes — who is engaged to marry Luke? How many people over 40 were having flashbacks, not just to “the accident,” but to Princess Di, as Rayna and Sadie Stone fled the paparazzi rioting outside the wedding dress store in a souped up Mustang convertible? When did actress Connie Britton, who plays Rayna, become the ultimate abortion counselor, here and on Friday Night Lights? 

These are the questions that consume us, even as work piles up in the in box. SPOILER ALERTS BELOW …

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October 17, 2014, 10:57 am

Feminazis Insist Sex Be Consensual, Frighten Boyz

schonberg-fish-nakedA friend of mine observed recently that the heightened attention to campus rape has a familiar pattern: when it’s time to take action, suddenly women drop out of the conversation.  How do men feel? How will men be newly victimized by women? Will California’s new “Yes Means Yes” policy for its public higher ed system make men frightened to initiate sexual relations for fear they will be driven from campus by feminazis on the march?

I read these things and think: imagine what heterosexual life — or any other aspect of higher education — might be like if feminists really were in charge! Wouldn’t it be cool to find out, even for a day?

But no. Conservative pundits predict that putting women in charge of anything, except for child-rearing, only brings out the worst in the menz. As conservative journalist Ross Douthat puts it in a blog post about “Yes Means Yes,” or what are now…

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October 12, 2014, 3:08 pm

Sexy Darwin

EvolutionI want to start this post, which is really about science and it’s various discontents, by saying: The Nation, a publication to which I am extremely loyal, does not publish enough in its regular edition, or even its blogs about LGBT people. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that it is no longer fashionable on the left, especially among radical queers, to push publications like The Nation to take LGBT people’s politics,or their lives, seriously. Despite the fact that millions of queers are homeless, poor, racially and sexually discriminated against, there appears to be a general consensus that in the hierarchy of global and national suffering, we simply do not rank.

But you do have to credit The Nation with publishing more about sex in the last few years.  JoAnn Wypijewski is doing a great job with the Carnal Knowledge feature, and no longer a backup to Katha…

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October 9, 2014, 9:23 am

History Listmania, Thursday Edition

tee-rhrOnce You Get A History BA, Don’t Forget To Go to Wall Street: That font of scholarly wisdom, USA Today, weighs in with the top ten colleges where you should go to major in history. You will be shocked – shocked! – to learn that six of them are Ivy League Universities, all but two are private schools, and only one (William and Mary) is a liberal arts college. Why? To summarize, you should study history at these schools because they “are highly competitive and attract both excellent students and well-respected faculty. Many of the schools are Ivy League institutions that have a reputation for providing the finest education available, leading students towards prosperous careers.”

Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but those highly prosperous careers are probably not in history. As Karen Ho points out in Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street (Duke, 2009), Wall Street recruits…

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