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Vol. 37, No.4 October 17, 2007
SPITZER DISSED HER
The latest number of CUNY MATTERS leads with an interesting feature on Governor Eliot Spitzer's Commission on Higher Education. That body is tasked with analyzing and reviewing such matters as academic performance and standards in the SUNY and CUNY systems, the mission of the community colleges, and the ever-vexing issues of access and expense. It will issue preliminary findings and recommendations on December 1st, and a final report next June. Among its thirty members are Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, SUNY's interim Chancellor John Clark, NYU's president John Sexton, Columbia's Lee Bollinger, and William Scheurerman of the United University Professions, the faculty and staff union at SUNY.
Conspicuously missing from the Commission is our very own Barbara Bowen. Why so? That there is bad blood between Bowen and Matt Goldstein is hardly news. Chances are that the Chancellor advised the Governor that meetings would proceed more swiftly and civilly without the Dear Leader's trade-mark tantrums. If John Sexton's opinion was solicited, we expect that he recalled Barbara's full-throated support for the TA walkout at NYU, a strike that she tried desperately to make the PSC's very own. As to Lee Bollinger, we don't recall seeing any PSC posters or protestors when Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was up on Morningside Heights, but given Barbara's track record on Israel, we wouldn't be surprised by their absence.
So what? Does it matter very much that the commissioners and their staffs were deprived of the Dear Leader's company during lunch? Probably not. But since the head of our sister union at SUNY will have been involved in the hearings and in giving shape to the respective reports, it would have been nice to have the needs of CUNY's faculty represented as well. Once more, major decisions about our professional circumstances and concerns are going to be made without the formal input of the Professional Staff Congress. Makes one wonder what the New Caucus is good for.
Further, that Goldstein and Spitzer kept Bowen off the Higher Education Commission does not bode well for the current contract negotiations. As the Chancellor noted in his September 26th e-message, "The University is not authorized to discuss an economic package until we receive guidance on parameters to inform an economic offer. Until we hear from the State..." That is to say, until Eliot Spitzer gives his OK to the outlines of what may well be yet another raw deal. Does anyone suppose that the Empire State's self-proclaimed "steamroller" will allow the now-Belittled Barbara to stand in his way? Maybe someone should remind her about the Governor's mercurial temper before the krazy kontract kampaign picket lines go up in front of his Manhattan office or residence. But don't count on it. Or on anything but another PSC pay cut contract, either.
A REDRESS OF OUR GRIEVANCES?
The last two numbers of The Patriot Returns have devoted a good deal of space to the case of Javier Perez, the fired Hostos CLT. Tho' not surprised by Perez's charges of incompetence against the PSC's poster boy for criminal rehabilitation, Nathaniel Charny, we were taken aback by Barbara's refusal to reply to Perez's requests for an explanation, and by Debbie Bell's brazen efforts to defend the reputation of the Dear Leader at his expense.
In the wake of the Perez letters, we've heard more rumblings from the long-suffering dues payers regarding legal counsel, the cursory handlings of grievances, and complaints that enforcing the contract seems to be lower on the priority list of the Dear Leadership than expressing solidarity with teachers in Oaxaca.
To avoid the prospect of employing yet more ex-con counselors or Defamin' Debbies, and in hope of responsible management of the union's business and our collective future, we recommend the following:
So that at least some trust in the union's handling of grievances be restored, we also suggest that:
News 'n Notes from St. Nicholas Terrace
While many of The Patriot's readers are, with good reason, worried about how to make ends meet on our meager salaries and threadbare benefits, not everyone across CUNY is so glum. At the City College, Susan Di Raimo, the acting chapter chair, reports that she has been working on the "greening of the campus." In fact, she hopes to have a tree planted in honor of the PSC this semester, on what is sure to be known as "Bowen's Bower." May we suggest either elderberry, hemlock or jimson weed? Or given the Dear Leader's love for William Blake, perhaps "A Poison Tree" would be most appropriate.
Another of our colleagues on St. Nicholas Terrace, the redoubtable Bill Crain, continues to make the case for critics of CUNY and of college faculty in general. Despite the fact that the university was closed on October 8th in celebration of Columbus Day, Crain held his annual on-campus vigil to protest "a man who initiated a pattern of European genocide against the indigenous peoples of the New World."
Email Sent on
Monday, Oct. 8, CUNY campuses will be closed in honor of a man who initiated a pattern of European genocide against the indigenous peoples of the New World. For many years, a small number of us have gone to CCNY anyway, to demonstrate our refusal to celebrate Columbus and the subsequent treatment of the original peoples of the Americas. Join us at 11 AM, in the NAC Plaza (the patio area outside the ground floor on Convent Ave. and 137th St.) for a quiet hour of sharing and reflection.
Now, as loathe as we are to quibble with Professor Crain, we feel obliged to point out that the observation of Columbus Day was not intended to insult the indigenous peoples, but to celebrate the achievements of Italians in America. When it was designated as a legal holiday in New York in 1909, Italian immigrants were an impoverished, despised and marginalized lot. Surely, CUNY's self-appointed tribune of all oppressed peoples doesn't want to offend Italian Americans, does he? Given the shameful history of discrimination against members of this ethnic group by the City University of New York, we are taken aback by Bill's insensitivity and selective historical memory.
We are also disappointed at Professor Crain's ad hominem attacks on poor Cristoforo Colom. According to a recent investigative report by the New York Times, Columbus may well have been a Jew whose parents converted to Christianity to avoid persecution by the Spanish Inquisition. Does he want to add anti-Semitism and lack of respect for Hispanics to his portfolio? We doubt it, and will await a public recantation of his recent sins. Perhaps next year, when Bill and his doleful band meet at CCNY, they'll move their venue from the NAC patio to Bowen's Bower, and spend their "hour of sharing and reflection" in the shade of the Poison Tree.
Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.