July 30th, 2007

Nods Head Ruefully

I love the idea of New College. I was delighted to have the opportunity to teach a class there. But, given my experience of dealing with the school's business end and what others have reported to me, I'm not surprised that the school has been put on probation, the first step on a path that could lead to the loss of its accreditation. The reason I'm writing this entry, however, is that the description of the school's problems could and should have been applied to so many "progressive" operations that were either started or strengthened by the social unrest of the 1960s:
One of the key findings is that Hamilton and those close to him make "unilateral assertions of authority."

Harry Britt, a former San Francisco supervisor who has been on the faculty since 1992, said the school is run by "a small group of people who are very highly motivated by the white male experience of the 1960s."

"There is rhetoric about love and community and trust, but in reality, it is an unhealthy situation because of the abusive and unwelcoming power situated at the top," Britt said.
Discussing the way small, independent concerns tend to exploit both their paid and unpaid staff, my friend Doug Henwood once said that there's nothing worse than working for the petite bourgeoisie. Although I'm sure there are exceptions to this general rule, it applies a lot more often than not. And the same goes for places like New College which, whatever their pretense, qualify as petit bourgeois institutions.