astra on end of uni


linked article above (astra on end of uni) via this tweet/event –

This is tonight, from 7-8. We’ll talk student debt, racial justice, and the purpose and possibilities of higher ed during this wild time of pandemic, protest, and political chaos.

Original Tweet:

About this Event

TNR Live: The End of the University

As a follow up to Astra Taylor’s article in the October issue of The New Republic, “The End of the University: Remaking Higher Education Amidst Protests and Pandemic”, we gather a group of thought-leaders and activists to expand on her reimagining of the future of the university system.

astra on end of uni

With sneak preview of a documentary by Taylor, “You Are Not A Loan”, about the state of the student debt, produced in collaboration with Onassis LA. The discussion will also include ideas Taylor presents in Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, The Case for Economic Disobedience and Debt Abolition to resist and abolish student debt.

can’t pay won’t pay


notes/quotes for end of uni article (sept 2020):

The End of the University – The pandemic should force America to remake higher education. []

Since coming down south to be closer to family, I’ve taken many walks around the University of North Carolina’s Greensboro campus, where my father works as a professor of chemistry.

 The virus has sparked a national conversation about the value of education; scrambling to adapt to online teaching often creates more work for faculty with less payoff for students, who are isolated from their teachers and peers. 

I, for one, encouraged my father to resist the pressure to return to the classroom in the fall on a rushed and reckless time line.

North Carolina may have been the first state to establish a functioning public university back in 1795, but Republican legislators—so keen on Southern heritage when a Confederate monument is at stake—have been working for years to dismantle the state’s educational legacy, slashing appropriations while targeting specific academic initiatives (including an anti-poverty law program and one focused on biodiversity). Convinced colleges are hotbeds of liberal political correctness, they are eager to see lecture halls, libraries, and laboratories close for good.

Democrats, too, facilitated higher education’s evisceration; they bear substantial responsibility for public institutions being so uniquely, and unnecessarily, vulnerable to the pandemic’s fiscal shock. For decades, disinvestment in higher education has been a bipartisan undertaking. 

 In the most likely scenario, the comparatively privileged will compete ever more frantically for space in academia’s upper echelons, while millions of poor and working-class students, disproportionately Black and brown, are funneled into dilapidated community colleges and for-profit degree mills or give up on studying altogether. Harvard and Yale will not just survive this calamity, they will likely see their stock rise; Princeton’s $26 billion endowment generates about $158,000 in annual revenue for each of its approximately 8,200 students. In contrast, the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, which lack comparable cash reserves, will be especially harmed by closures.

what we need is something altogether diff.. something that undoes all that hierarchical listening .. based on something you’re all about cure ios city

Before UNC students were called back for an uncertain and perilous fall semester, I often felt sentimental. Crossing the abandoned quad or passing the lonely statue of Minerva, I missed the usual hustle and bustle and wistfully regarded the signs of devotion to scholarship and learning. And yet, as someone who has spent the last eight years campaigning to end student debt and advance the demand for tuition-free, and intellectually freeing, public college for all, I know the university must not be romanticized. The question is not whether the university as it currently exists will survive the pandemic, but whether we want it to.

image if we have 8b legit free people to ‘hustle and bustle’.. or wander.. or whatever..

imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..

what the world needs most is the energy of 8b alive people

America’s universities were built on a corrupt foundation: The theft of indigenous territory and the owning and leasing of enslaved people provided much of the initial acreage, labor, and capital for many of the country’s most esteemed institutions. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862, the year before the Emancipation Proclamation, handing over millions of acres of stolen land to found universities that shut out Black people, with few exceptions. The Morrill Act was part of a concerted effort to modernize the economy. Indeed, the research university and the business corporation developed in tandem. Racism, commerce, and education have been bedfellows from the beginning. If we want a real cure for the present crisis, we must change how our institutions of learning are funded and governed, so that they might embody a deeper, democratic purpose at long last.

indeed – moten abolition law et al

In order to forge another path, we must engage in a deeper form of accounting. Beyond finding a way to balance university budgets in the midst of global depression, the challenge is to acknowledge and repair past mistakes and ongoing inequities, thereby making our higher education system, for the first time in our troubled history, truly public. 

indeed.. let’s let go of accountable ness.. and all the red flags

If our goal is to shift course and avert the disaster on the horizon, the boulder’s final message—“Black Lives Matter”—points us in the right direction. “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression,” the Combahee River Collective, an influential group of Black feminists, wrote in 1977. Their wisdom still holds. If we could create a world where Black students were free to learn at free universities, we would have created a world where everyone else was finally able to do so as well.

yeah.. imagine if everyone is free to just be/learn/explore.. why uni astra? why the pkg deal/debt of a uni? do we need that?

if we had a legit way to org us .. according to the itch-in-8b-souls.. everyday.. wouldn’t that be better..? augment our interconnectedness.. let go of ‘learning at uni’ ness

Six years ago, I co-founded the Debt Collective, a union for debtors that fights for student debt cancellation and free education. 

strike debt et al

What does “free public college” really mean? How could we best advance our agenda?

how about just 8b free people – (who would naturally learn whatever they wanted via daily curiosity)

best way to advance that: 2 conversations

(ie’s from can’t pay won’t pay)

can’t pay won’t pay

Advertised as the great equalizer, college today has increasingly polarizing effects.

never was.. an equalizer.. always was about people telling other people what to do – how to be

accounting ness.. credentialing ness.. et al.. doest that

we need a means to let go of any form of measuring/accounting if we want anything to be for all (and it has to be or actually none of it really works)

Cooper sees the imposition of tuition and student debt as part of a concerted attempt to undermine this freedom 

yeah.. it does.. but so does any form of telling people what to do.. the issue is much deeper than cost.. ie: matters little if it’s completely free/accessible.. if the people aren’t themselves.. if they’re still following some invisible prescribed supposed to..

findings (focusing on just this element – how to get back/to legit itches in souls et al.. back/to fittingness):

1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people

If faculty don’t fight back, administrators across the country will seize this disaster to further “restructure” universities in line with corporate management principles. 

wasting energy (when today we have the means for so much better)

ie: an alternative for everyone.. even the inspectors of inspectors et al

if we offer an alt.. we don’t have to spend our days in defense/response/decision-making.. et al

A democratically governed university is the last thing administrators want to see—but it is the only thing that can ensure the long-term survival and safety of the institution and those who depend on it.

who depends on it?

no one should..

Even though colleges as we know them have been shut down, the last few months have been a period of incredible learning. White Americans have been far more supportive of the protests for racial justice than they have of similar actions in the past. Millions have joined marches, and civil disobedience has become commonplace. People are reading and discussing America’s history, the dynamics of racial capitalism, and the possibility of not only prison reform but prison abolition. A reckoning, unimaginable only a short while ago, appears to be under way.

yeah.. that..

imagine that to infinity

we have the means to facil that chaos

As the educator Jason Wozniak pointed out to me, the Greek word scholémeans free time, suspension, contemplation, and delay. School, in this sense, is not so much a place as a circumstance, one with a distinct time frame. .. Robin D.G. Kelley: “Social movements generate new knowledge, new theories, new questions. The most radical ideas often grow out of a concrete intellectual engagement with the problems of aggrieved populations confronting systems of oppression.” Learning has never been an activity confined to campus; it often happens in the streets and through struggle. Because of the pandemic, millions of people were able to pay serious and sustained attention to the causes and the stakes of these protests. The university as it is currently constructed validates and cultivates certain kinds of erudition and expertise while discounting other forms of knowledge and experience. 

exactly.. let’s get/back to legit non hierarchical listening

public consensus (of any form) always oppresses someone(s)

During the Debt Collective’s dialogue, Barbara Ransby invoked the concept of abolition in the context of education, noting that abolition is a framework that conjures not merely the dismantling of oppressive systems but the creation of social arrangements of solidarity and care.

moten abolition law to cure ios city

again – public consensus (of any form) always oppresses someone(s)

“We know a lot of bad things and bad structures exist,” Ransby said. “We’re not as rehearsed in what to replace them with.” Simply canceling student debt and eliminating tuition are not enough to yield educational equity in a society serrated by inequality.


Instead, we need schools that are not only free in cost, but also aimed at widening the sphere of democratic freedom.

no.. if we want legit freedom.. it has to be for everyone.. everyday.. and so.. we need to let go of schools and democracy ness

Appel articulated this clearly when we spoke: “Just because you don’t pay for it doesn’t mean it’s free of white supremacy. It doesn’t mean it’s free of repressive cops or that it is a sanctuary from state violence.” Tuition-free school isn’t enough if only elites can successfully compete for limited spots, or if schools that serve poor and working students remain immiserated and understaffed.

deeper than that.. we have to let go of any form of people telling other people what to do

That is why Christopher Newfield, one of the foremost chroniclers of the political economy of higher education, argues that advocates must set their sights not just on free public college but on more equitable funding structures.

deeper.. sans money (any form of measuring/accounting)

why hold on to any of that?

He suggests $20,000 per student per year as a spending floor to guarantee that disadvantaged students have a fair shot at academic success. If the Covid crisis has revealed anything, it is that we have the money.

no amount of money is enough .. if there’s money (any form of measuring/accounting)

let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence ..w/ubi as temp placebo.. needs met w/o money.. til people forget about measuring

And yet even if we revolutionized higher education in line with their prescriptions and went even further—shutting down for-profits, eliminating tuition, opening admissions, improving and equalizing access and quality across the board—*many social problems would persist. More and better education alone will not solve our economic woes; an abundance of college degrees will not make more and better-paying jobs magically appear.

*solving econ woes won’t solve our woes..

we need to go deeper.. than money, jobs, et al.. supposed to’s of school/work is killing us

We can seize this moment and remake the university into something that is inclusive and liberating, or reinforce long-standing and destructive inequities. If we choose the former path, everyone will benefit.

both paths ‘reinforce long-standing and destructive inequities’

‘remaking the uni’ just perpetuates our broken feedback loop

that’s huge

and we’re missing it..

and we keep on spinning our wheels..

[so wish we could talk.. but you can’t hear me.. because.. we desperately need a means to undo our hierarchical listening

Public colleges and universities were free not that long ago; they can be free again. But as Hannah Appel told me, we need to define our terms. What does “public” mean?

public ness – all the people

humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity .. simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync..

or the dance will never dance.. and we’ll keep spending our days/energy on ie: fighting/decision-making/responding/obeying/et-al

“The unqualified public has always been the white male public in this country,” Appel said. That’s why she argues that we must insist not just on universal public goods but reparative ones. We need systems designed not just to acknowledge our unequal past but to actively repair and redress ongoing harms. Only if we do that can the university live up to its name, embodying the Latin universitas, which means “the whole” or “the world”—a space for everyone, where no subject is off limits..t

if you legit want a space where no one is off limits.. why have such buildings as unis? why spend your time on acknowledging history of whales in sea world.. that will suck our energy and will always still keep parts that are off limits to people..

what we need is 8b people legit free.. in the city.. as the day..

ie: cure ios city


notes/quotes from event:

Stephanie Kelton is a professor of economics and public policy at Stony Brook University and a Senior Fellow at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research. She is a leading expert on Modern Monetary Theory and a former Chief Economist on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee (Democratic staff). Professor Kelton advises policymakers and consults with investment banks, and portfolio managers across the globe. She is a regular commentator on national radio and broadcast television. Her most recent book (June 2020), The Deficit Myth, became an instant New York Times bestseller.

@StephanieKelton – Author: NYT Bestseller POLITICO 50 (2016); Bloomberg 50 (2019); Barron’s 100 Women in Finance (2020); World’s Top 50 (2020) Prospect Magazine

Nick Martin is a staff writer at The New Republic for the Sold Short section. A member of the Sappony Tribe and a born-and-raised North Carolinian, Martin combines his unique personal experiences with a penchant for research and source-building to cover Indigenous issues and Southern politics and culture. His work has previously appeared in the Washington Post, CNN Opinion, and Splinter.

@NickA_Martin – Sappony writer covering Indian Country for The New Republic. Email:

Delaney Vandergrift is a student of abolition and the black radical tradition. She feels passionately about curating spaces where young Black people and people of color can receive radical political education to create the world we all deserve. Delaney loves digital strategy, programs that provide people with their material needs, and sneakers

@delaneypv15 – the south got something to say. current: dreamin w the @dreamdefenders. former: natl HBCU organizing manager for Bernie. 1913. I’m good at most things.(she/her) – n carolina

notes from zoom hour:

quotes from astra’s doc: ‘they tell you ‘college or military’ or not future – delaney; ‘i need to get my degree so i can move on’.. ‘getting job’ has become purpose.. ed should be liberatory .. need to disconnect from need to survive; ‘college was place where people didn’t die – wasn’t about getting a job – i could get a job’

we wanted to ask.. how do we address the root of the problem.. what are we working toward.. asking big philosophical questions then dragging them down with pragmatism – astra

i quit unschooling to go to college.. i thought i couldn’t go on in life w/o.. so i went.. and got into debt.. that experience .. impinging the life choices i was making..then the leap.. that it wasn’t my mistake .. but a structural problem – astra

today 1.7 trillion in student.. not something that emerged in 2020 w covid.. revealing the problem of funding ed thru debt – astra

on money and debt.. and that there’s been an explosion of debt.. expo growth gets out of control very quickly – @StephanieKelton

another clip from doc – ‘you are no a loan’:

reagan: ‘should not be in business of subsidizing curiosity.. ed should be a privilege not a right’

buchanan – ‘make them pay, they’ll quiet down’

‘so tired of hearing there’s not enough while there’s enough for this 1%’

steph: ‘there is enough.. financing is easiest part.. they are purposely writing budgets w/not enough

astra: why were people so quick to believe idea of austerity.. that there has to be cuts.. ie: few months later govt spent billions of dollars.. (virus) .. proves point that there is enough

steph: politics of time.. historical moment.. thatcher taught us – there is no alt – anything you ask for must be paid for.. we’ve put ourselves in this econ framework

steph: it’s a policy decision to write budget.. always enough ink in pen for military.. we need shift in how we think of finance piece

f & b & dm same law

great opp to code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence

steph: fed govt can spend money it does not have.. and w/o having to worry about paying it back.. state/local govts can’t do that

astra: only sustainable revenue source for ed.. is public money.. where people aren’t individually debt funding ed

another clip: ‘free college should mean free tuition , supports all survival/thriving needs.. which would be expensive but means radical rethinking’

yeah.. not radical enough.. let go

doc quotes: ‘on need for open admissions’ ‘our colleagues wouldn’t like that.. they want kids w college prep.. know their math’

delaney: org people around student debt is a little difficult.. most don’t see it till they leave.. so most are talking about debt of families that are still struggling from their days at school.. helps to see it’s a scam.. ie: mother did it to help you out.. and now you in same position.. first thing.. recognizing how it’s shaping your own world.. don’t pay loan.. can’t get house.. et al

delaney: abolition so popular.. seeing money being forked out for so many other things.. people becoming way more inquisitive about fed money.. perfect time to org young people about debt.. allow they to dream.. how to radically reimagine how you want world .. if you want these (institutions) to even exist

so let’s take the opp.. to literally/radically re\set us.. sans money (any form of measuring/accounting) ie: cure ios city

delaney: unsure about how to do this.. but one thing that’s important is political ed.. ie: mutual aid; refunding for room/board; why even paying for that to begin with.. ask far out questions at same time..

delaney: on the.. we can do this.. ness

steph: we know there was a time it was possible for people to go to uni tuition free

yeah.. i don’t think we ever did.. not free money/mind

steph: this is a moral issue.. i view this as opp to hit the reset button

yeah.. great opp.. but let’s legit re\set.. otherwise just spinning our wheels

astra: we need to decouple ed from livelihood

or perhaps need to let go of ed ness.. and trust 8b alive people

in the city.. as the day..

ie: cure ios city

astra: where we have power (ie: debt, campuses,..)

itch-in-the-soul is where.. and we’re missing it

astra: read my piece.. traces history of racism.. undermining institutions.. for b & w people.. if we don’t address history.. won’t get where we want

delaney: yeah to astra.. college isn’t helping black folks in any levels.. because still have all this debt.. he effects every other system

steph: ed is not a panacea.. doesn’t level the playing field.. (then cites work on this.. ie: umbrellas don’t make it rain)


astra on security

can’t pay won’t pay

astra on end of uni