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Vol. 40, No.4 August 03, 2008
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS . . .
In 2006, our very own Dear Leader, Barbara Bowen, barely prevailed in her bid for a third term. Her margin came from the votes of adjuncts---to whom she promised the moon. The New Caucasians, she implied, would ensure a new contract that paid "part-timers" the same wages as "full-timers," even though part-time faculty aren't hired after national searches and don't have research or service requirements. Her message to the adjuncts: "Trust me."
Trusting the Dear Leader is never a very good idea.
Battlin' Barb and her Contract Cronies have come through with their latest below-inflation contract. No surprise there: full-time CUNY faculty long ago recognized that the current PSC management is incompetent.
But the Dear Leader's part-time base is outraged. Belittled as "adjunct complainers" by one PSC leader, these adjuncts have aggressively demanded a special contract bulletin that would lay out their many objections to the contract. Battlin' Barb besieged by her own most ardent supporters even attracted attention from Inside Higher Ed, under the headline, "Revolt in the Adjunct Ranks."
As furious e-mails were sent and PSC leaders fanned out to the CUNY campuses to urge approval of the Bowen Contract, the Dear Leader remained eerily silent.
No e-mails. No public appearances. Had a palace coup occurred at PSC Central?
A few days ago, PSC management rejected the demands of the so-called "adjunct complainers." The e-mail rejection, however, came not from the Dear Leader, but from her trusty sidekick, Steve London. Why?
Wrote London, "President Barbara Bowen is on vacation."
Most people can read e-mail (or use the phone) while "on vacation." So where in the world is the Dear Leader, where she apparently lacks access to these means of communication?
Our first thought was Oaxaca, Mexico. That, after all, is the site of one of the Dear Leader's more quixotic crusades---for years, Battlin' Barb has played the role of a south-of-the-border Revolutionary. And wireless access might be unavailable in the trenches of Oaxaca labor strife.
But some discreet inquiries suggested that the Dear Leader wasn't vacationing in Oaxaca. Funneling our union dues to her comrades in Oaxaca is one thing. Actually dirtying her hands with the "little people" is, it seems, another.
Then we wondered if the Dear Leader had embarked upon a religious retreat. E-mails from some of her aggrieved admirers referred to "Sister Bowen." But a call to the archdiocese revealed that Battlin' Barb hasn't holed up in an area convent.
Then we heard an intriguing rumor to explain the Dear Leader's abrupt absence. She is, we hear, out of contact with the outside world. . . on an all-expenses-paid luxury cruise.
We understand that the life of a CUNY Revolutionary is mentally and physically taxing. (So many protests to plan, after all.) But since Battlin' Barb receives full released time from teaching, why isn't she actually tending to union business until her contract handiwork is ratified? The time for a luxury vacation, it would seem, would come after the ratification.
Could it be that the Dear Leader wants "plausible deniability" to distance herself from how PSC management responds to the "adjunct complainers"?
Maybe it's better to see Battlin' Barb as CUNY's own Madame Defarge, knitting & cruising while adjunct heads are falling on the guillotine.
Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.
As you know, Susan O'Malley has sought to silence the Patriot by bringing a lawsuit which seeks to limit his free speech and financially bankrupt him. Interested colleagues have weighed in at