Commotion at BOT meeting
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, May 7, 2012 20:05
The CUNY Board of Trustees meeting was stalled last Monday evening by the multitude of teachers who filled the room in protest of the Pathways initiative.
At the same time, representatives of several student groups including Veterans and the LGBT community, stood silently in support of Pathways.
As BOT Chairman Benno Schmidt was addressing the Board, a member of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) began to interrupt, saying, “[…] 6,000 faculty and staff who signed this petition […]” before the Chairman cut her off.
“If you can’t and let us proceed with our business, I will ask the security staff to show you out,” Schmidt said firmly.
“I’m on my way out,” she said, to which Schmidt replied, “You’re not on your way out.”
“I’m a slow walker, Chairman,” she said, getting laughs out of the crowd on both sides of the divided room. She was then joined in a walkout of the meeting and a chant, “6,000 have spoken, Pathways is broken.”
Schmidt said to those remaining, “I would like to thank and take note of the maturity and the sense of responsibility of the students who are communicating their views in ways that do not disrupt our meetings. I can assure you that your views are being taken into account by all the Trustees.”
He added, “It is, in light of the previous discussion, a remarkable fact that the students here are acting with vastly more maturity and sense of responsibility than the faculty of the University.”
He also expressed his view that “you saw about 1 percent of the faculty at this meeting. That does not represent the faculty at this University.”
The PSC’s main contention with the Pathways Initiative is that it takes away the collective faculties’ contractual right to choose their own course materials on the individual campus level.
One other grievance with the initiative is the removal of the four-credit science lab requirement, since all Common Core classes must be three credits in order to create a hassle-free, inter-school transfer program. It is this aspect of the Pathways initiative that the people at the LGBT Task Force are in support of.
“There are some very specific reasons that we support Pathways,” said James P. Robinson, Chairperson of the Task Force in an interview with The Ticker outside the meeting. “Pathways is of particular importance to the LGBT community.”
“Alot of my members,” said Robinson, “when they come out, there’s this phenomenon called displacement. They get kicked out of their homes; they end up on the street. It takes them about a year to get their lives together. When they do, they reenroll in another CUNY college, and they end up losing an entire semester’s worth of credits.”
Robinson added, “Federal Financial Aid does not pay for the same class twice, so there’s the built in loss of being gay and all that entails, and [...] a new financial yolk around someone’s neck. So, that is a very compelling reason why we support Pathways.”
With such charged emotions on both sides of the topic, there are many things for the Board of Trustees to consider as they move forward with any plan that will create such a potentially drastic change to the core education that CUNY is built upon.