LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

 

PSCcuny
NEWS BULLETIN

APRIL 2001

 

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"Teach CUNY" and the Classroom

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The Past Year and the Union's Future

Against Common Sense

 

 

 

Welcome to the new editor. What a great job, even in the short time. The new paper has what union members need: information, news, graphics, prodding to be active—plus some theory, an editorial, as well as those “Dear Chancellor Goldstein...” letters. Members, saying it best. My colleagues and I look forward to future issues.

Paul Sheridan  
Brooklyn College

 

In developing a new direction for the PSC newspaper, I urge you to take seriously the reality that CUNY, like other institutions, is structured by gender. This is most evident in administration, faculty, staff and student positions as well as curriculum. The differences between women and men would not be an issue if they were equal, but they are not.

To implement my proposal I recommend two changes in every issue of the newspaper. One is reporting on the concerns of women as women among faculty, staff and students. Looking at CUNY through women’s eyes alerts us to gendered aspects of the University; this can lead us to needed changes.

By itself, such a column  would give us a “women’s corner”—as though their issues are theirs alone. But women live in the University with men; what’s happening with women is affected by and affects men. 

Moreover, both women and men are gendered, a reality that cuts across other  social constructs, e.g., race/ethnicity, class and sexual orientation. Therefore, I also recommend that when someone writes about persons or issues, s/he should indicate awareness of the impact of gender and the other social constructs on the subject at hand.

Some may argue that these recommendations foster divisiveness. They do not. If the PSC newspaper is to help build the kind of community that I believe our new union leaders were elected to develop, we must come to grips with the particularities and the commonalities among us.

Beatrice Kachuck
Brooklyn College, Graduate Center (Emerita)

 

Let me cast the first vote for keeping the name Clarion.  Over the years, the Clarion won many awards for excellence as a union newspaper. Since its launching, the Clarion has provided the best medium of communication within CUNY. Changing the name  is gratuitously insulting to all those who over the years contributed to our union’s paper. This proposal also has an “uprooting” feel to it. Not everything that happened before the current leadership was elected was wrong.  And to date, we don’t really know what will be different under the current leadership. Remember: “Pride goeth before the Fall!”

Where the Clarion could be faulted is that (although to a much lesser degree than other union newspapers) it served to promote incumbency by endlessly documenting and gloating over the activities of the elected leaders. Will the Clarion now have fewer photos of the union’s officers than previously, will they be quoted less often, less copiously? After perusing the last issue, the answer is, No! Traditionally, the Clarion also gave little or no publicity to opponents—announced or potential. We do not yet know whether the editorial practices of the Clarion will differ in these regards now that the recently elected insurgents have become incumbents. One egregious omission in the Clarion, by the way, was its failure to report on decisions of the Delegate Assembly. There is no evidence so far that this will change.

Will the new Clarion (by whatever name) be any more focused on the underlying issues and the needs of the membership and less devoted to the leadership? This, and not a name, matters.

Prof. Gerald Meyer
Hostos Community College

 

It comes with great surprise to see a communication called News Bulletin replacing Clarion.

As one who negotiated on behalf of the United Federation of College Teachers with the Legislative Conference, let me indicate how our union got its name and how the publication got the name Clarion.

The UFCT newspaper was called Action; the Legislative Conference organ was the Legislative Conference News.  The LC in its history at CUNY denied at first that it was a union, then when both organizations sought collective bargaining there was a change and both organizations sought to merge instead of wasting energy, money and materiel in battling each other.

The LC representatives in merger talks wanted no mention of “United,” “Federation” or “Union.” The word “Congress” has an honorable place in labor history, as in the name “Congress of Industrial Organization.” Clarion is a name associated with the British trade unions and the Labour Party—very honorable historic associations.

The democratic process would suggest not a name-calling contest with gustatory prizes, but a secret ballot membership referendum—perhaps in two segments. The first—Should We Retain Clarion? Yes or No. If the “Nos” win, then entertain possible choices for a change.

I, as the Deputy President Emeritus of the PSC alongside Belle Zeller, am proud of the PSC’s achievements: the end of secret personnel files—Max/Kahn; the Certificate of Continuous Employment open to full-time Lecturers who had faced interruptions in seeking tenure; the end of the “Nota Benes” which precluded the use of the grievance procedure in appointments, reappointments, promotion, and tenure; the defeat of Kibbee’s tenure quotas; the retention of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the face of its possible abolition; the many picket lines and demonstrations not only on our behalf but in solidarity with other unions; a union free of corruption.

I request that this letter be printed in the next issue of the Clarion, a name which must not be changed without the democratic input of the rank and file membership.

Israel Kugler
Deputy President Emeritus, PSC

High school seniors have received a letter that begins, “Congratulations. It gives me great pleasure to inform you of your acceptance to City College as a member of the class entering in the Fall 2001 semester.” But many of these students are later told that their acceptance is actually conditional. They must still pass the three Freshman Skills Assessment Tests to enter the College.

At a meeting on February 22, City College administrators discussed a recruitment drive that includes faculty phone calls to students. But with respect to these phone calls, too, the plan was to avoid initially informing the conditionally admitted students of their true status.

I tried to find out who was responsible for this policy. Administrators weren’t eager to talk to me about the specifics. But several indicated that CUNY Central had advised City College and some other colleges to handle the initial letters and phone calls in this way.

In any event, after I began to make the admissions practice public, I learned that at least two colleges, City and York, will change their letters to inform students of their true status from the outset.

CUNY apparently has been doing what it can to sustain enrollment this coming fall, when the new remediation ban threatens enrollment losses at several colleges. But whatever the motive, CUNY has been misleading students and playing on their emotions in a very disrespectful manner.

Bill Crain
City College

(Letters to the Editor: Write to Us! -- Letters to the editor can be e-mailed to: psc-editor@att.net, They can also be sent by regular mail to: Letters to The Editor, PSC, 25 W. 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036; or faxed to: 212-302-7815. Letters should be no more than 150-200 words in length, and are subject to editing.)