A Declaration of the Immediate Causes that Induce and Justify Graduate Student Confederation

By General Lee Bollinger in correspondence with Iqraz Nanji

Many universities have been founded upon the principle of the unequal subordination of their teaching faculty; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature’s laws. With us, all professors, however high or low in their departments, rich or poor, are equally disenfranchised. Not so with the graduate student. Subordination is their place. As a professor myself, I believe this demand for satisfactory working conditions and political equality between graduate students and the teaching faculty is abominable and against the nature of things.

No one believes more strongly than I do that graduate student labor, as it exists at Columbia, is a blessing to all in our community. In no other university, so far as their history is known, have their graduate students attained so high an elevation, or enjoyed so much happiness, as they have in a state of servitude at Columbia. On the other hand, there is no place upon earth where the poor professors occupy so high a position as they do here, where graduate students exist. An abiding conviction to these truths upon the public mind gives solicited graduate student labor their chief strength.

Their labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of Columbia. They teach our courses, grade our papers, answer our questions, and have a large hand in the research. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the undergraduate regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the graduate students can bear exposure to the sophomoric sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at confederation is a blow at commerce and civilization.

However, in these modern times, certain rights are afforded to all. And as a First Amendment scholar, I value these rights, and especially everyone’s voice. Nevertheless, I am confounded by the uprising of graduate student dissent. To me it seems that the repeatedly voiced dissatisfaction with undergraduate work— “I don’t get it.”; “That is not what Nietzsche says at all…”; “No!” —should be a sufficient compensation of their rights.

At this crossroads, we are left we no choice but to proffer confederacy as the sole alternative and course of action. We encourage all graduate students to forgo their disillusion of unionizing and instead, to confederate their position.

The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to natural laws and decrees, in the formation of university hierarchies as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws to uphold the decadence and security upon which this university thrives.