Dom Giordano devoted several segments of his Monday radio program to the recent protest launched by Occupy Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania.
The demonstrators initially planned to protest the appearance of Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was scheduled to give a speech at the Wharton School of Business on income inequality last Friday.
Upon learning Occupy Wall Street had targeted his speech at Penn’s Jon M. Huntsman Hall, Cantor cancelled the October 21st appearance. The demonstration went forward despite his absence, drawing a crowd that fluctuated in size between roughly three to six dozen protestors and onlookers.
Cantor’s cancelation came in part due to elements of Penn’s faculty – though not necessarily the Wharton School of Business – voicing their support for the Occupy demonstrators.
Giordano & Loomba on education costs
One such professor, Dr. Ania Loomba, made an appearance on WPHT 1210 to defend the Occupiers. A professor of Renaissance writings as well as modern South Asia and post-colonial literature, Dr. Loomba currentlyholdsthe Catherine Bryson Chair in the English department of the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Loomba began her interview with Dom Giordano by connecting her support for Occupy Wall Street to her work at Penn. “Personally because I teach great literature of the Renaissance, including Shakespeare, what these texts say to me is that there should be justice and equality.”
The conservative radio host then turned the discussion to Penn’s salary structure. Giordano noted a contradiction between the high wages paid to Penn’s tenured faculty, in some cases exceeding $200,000 a year, and their calls for social justice for the 99% of Americans that were not super-rich.
“Is that not the one percent or close to the one percent?” Giordano rejoined.
Though pointing out the salary structure was not uniform – with some professors living on $60-70,000 annual incomes – Dr. Loomba acknowledged the high cost of education created a debt burden for young people.
While urging the rich to support the Occupiers, Loomba also argued, “I would be quite in favor of overhauling the salary structures so they would be more equitable – personally, that’s for me. I’m not speaking on behalf of every single [Penn] professor that signed this petition [supporting the Occupy protestors].”
Student loan debt
Giordano went on to argue that college was simply too expensive, and that even private colleges like Penn “gets a lot of tax payer money. It’s obscene how much colleges are charging today.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more,” Dr. Loomba answered.
Giordano continued to drive his argument that universities themselves were responsible for the crippling debt held by many recent college graduates who sympathize with Occupy Wall Street.
“I don’t see a statement – with all due respect – from the Penn, the Temple campus. All I see when they make statements about the cost of colleges – we’re not subsidizing it enough rather than what I’m driving at is when I look at some of the salaries, I look at some of [these] things – we have presidents of colleges that are being subsidized…” Giordano argued.
“Yes I agree.” Loomba replied.
“Ok, where are the statements on those things?” Dom inquired.
“The point is that we don’t own Penn, I am an employee of Penn. And there are many of us who actually have been protesting this from within.”
This is the first in a series on Occupy Philadelphia’s protest at the University of Pennsylvania. Subscribe to receive an email alert for the posting of the next edition in this series.
A free podcast of Dom Giordano’s complete interview with Dr. Ania Loomba is available here
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