collaboration and crisis

How do colleges and universities collaborate with cultural and community-based organizations in this period of crisis in both sectors? Marta Vega, conference co-chair, president of the Caribbean Cultural Center, noted how overdue is a shift in our thinking and language regarding campuses as parts of communities, rather than faculty/ students “going out to” communities. Conference co-chair Randy Martin of NYU trenchantly explained that the question is not if these sectors are linked but rather by what terms this linkage must be approached. Nonprofits were meant to be a third space, neither government nor business, where the public good could thrive. But tax exemptions have eviscerated the public sphere, providing the most perks for those who need them least (such as tax breaks for mortgages). The wealthy people that tax exemptions benefit don’t think of themselves as receiving government benefits. It’s the poorest who are marked as government dependent and the rich who have recouped what was public money and actually decide the agenda of nonprofits through what they fund. How does higher education respond to the crisis so many non profit organizations face, organizations that increasingly form a component of student learning and have always been a source of faculty research and knowledge production? And what about how and who is admitted to our colleges and universities, the conference theme curated by Susan Sturm of Columbia U, the third conference chair? How do we achieve full participation? Why are campus units that focus on diversity often siloed away from those who carry out “engagement?”