This past spring the UW Center for Humanities hosted a seminar that pulled back the curtain and confirmed what many have thought, there is a group of professors at the University of Wisconsin that are more interested in undermining the University than actually serving the institution – thus the taxpayers that write their paychecks and the students that pay tuition.
On June 4th The UW center for Humanities hosted a seminar made possible through the A.W. Mellon Workshop Series titled “Undercommoning – The only relationship to the university is a criminal one.”
Several UW faculty and graduate students had presentations in the seminar including Associate Professor of Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture Karma Chavez and UW Literary studies graduate assistant Lenora Hanson.
The recommended reading for this seminar was a series of essays written by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten titled “The Undercommons – Fugitive Planning & Black Study.”
The essays explain exactly what the Undercommoning movement is attempting to do, “To the university I’ll steal, and there I’ll steal. . . This is the only possible relationship to the American university today. This may be true of universities everywhere. It may have to be true of the university in general. But certainly, this much is true in the United States: it cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment. In the face of these conditions one can only sneak into the university and steal what one can. To abuse its hospitality, to spite its mission, to join its refugee colony, its gypsy encampment, to be in but not of – this is the path of the subversive intellectual in the modern university.” [emphasis added]
According to a poster advertising the event, “Sessions on critical research to be used within and against the university-from the archival to the financial-will be facilitated by graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars from across the U.S. and Canada who have been involved in this type of research at their home universities.”
The last session of the day was hosted by Thea Sircar and featured M Adams of Young Gifted and Black and Karma Chavez of the UW in a conversation about how to best “appropriate” the University’s resources to support the “radical resistance occurring in our communities.”
Karma is a member of the UW faculty senate has been extremely vocal in her defense of several UW officials who have been under fire for controversial comments that they have made recently.
When it was discovered that UW Sociology professor Sara Goldrick-Rab had compared Gov. Scott Walker to Hitler it was Karma who went to Goldrick-Rab’s defense expressing disappointment with the “irresponsible” University committee that issued a statement condemning the Goldrick-Rab’s tweets.
Perhaps most appropriately, Chavez also came to the defense of UW Director of Community Relations Everett Mitchell when he was captured on tape claiming that shoplifting should not be prosecuted (this claim was made at an event hosted by Karma Chavez) this time claiming that the point Mitchell was attempting to make was nuanced and above the intelligence of the average person.
She also called on Rebecca Blank to fiercely defend Mitchell from all critics.