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Vol. 48, No.3 April 21, 2009
A continuing mystery about the past months' events is why Barbara Bowen remained silent—merely sending a staffer to look after faculty interests—as CUNY developed a scheme to rework the faculty research grants program. Only when the New Caucus got criticized in the campaign did our Dear Leader suddenly show interest in the program's fate.
Distraction remains the likeliest explanation: in a bit of bad luck for CUNY faculty, the key developments in reworking the grants program happened to coincide with the Gaza war. And, demonstrating where its priorities lie, the New Caucus was focused at the time on pushing through the Delegate Assembly an anti-Israel resolution. Mundane matters like the fate of the grants program needed to wait until the New Caucus resolved the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
But now, another intriguing explanation has emerged for the New Caucus' passivity. It appears that some New Caucus apparatchiks have convinced themselves that the grants program, as currently structured, is biased against union "activists." So why fight to retain a program that doesn't sufficiently reward New Caucus members?
The matter came to light recently when Tami Gold, the New Caucus chapter chair from Hunter, complained that the faculty panel for her field had declined to fund her. . . pathbreaking. . . documentary film, PUZZLES. "Could my activism on campus," mused Traumatized Tami, "be influencing the decision making?"
Other New Caucus activists quickly chimed in. City Tech's Pat Rudden proclaimed that Gold's situation showed how "these grants need to be re-thought." Hunter's Kelly Anderson complained that she had been denied funding for her documentary, even though one reviewer had raved, "If only such phenomena were as well documented in the 1960s!" (That's an intriguing criterion for funding.)
It appears, alas, that the New Caucus ideal is a two-track research grant program—one for New Caucus "activists," who are to receive guaranteed funding; and then, if there's any money left over, a second tier for all other faculty.
Can we offer an alternative? Perhaps the Dear Leader could designate some of her $40,000 annual bonus to ensure that PUZZLES sees the light of day?
A "RIGHT-WING" CABAL?
Lest Gold and Anderson be dismissed as cranks looking to rationalize their failure in the grants process, it appears their thinking is common in the New Caucus echo chamber.
We hear that at the Brooklyn PSC meeting, a Concerned CUNY faculty member was buttonholing anyone within listening distance to spin a tale about how "right-wingers" dominated her discipline's grants panel. The time had come, she proclaimed, to look into the situation. When it came to news about the grants program, she added, the only person worth trusting is "Sidekick Steve" London. (After all, he did such a good job running the Welfare Fund into the ground.)
So, we have two possible explanations for the state of the grants program:
(1) Because faculty research never has been a priority for our Dear Leader in contract negotiations, the program remains badly underfunded.
(2) The program is run by a conspiracy of "right-wingers" determined to block funding for New Caucus activists.
Which explanation do you think is more likely?
IS THE NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
The conspiracy theory at Brooklyn's PSC meeting is, of course, common fare from the New Caucus. Any criticism of our Dear Leader must come from "right-wingers," and therefore should be ignored.
A major issue in the pending union campaign has been the Dear Leader's inability to negotiate—at least before the current economic crash, when inflation and cost-of-living increases have fallen to next to nothing—contracts that kept pace with increases in the cost of living in New York City.
The current issue of the ADVOCATE, the official publication of the NEA, features a "special salary issue," which lists salary trends in U.S. colleges and universities. Turn to pages 30 and 31, which list all the CUNY colleges, and compare those figures with the New York City consumer price index, as documented by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The comparison seems to demonstrate pretty clearly that the Dear Leader's tenure hasn't been able to keep pace with the cost of living increases PSC members endure.
So will the Dear Leader now brand the NEA an organization run by "right-wingers"?
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