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Viewpoint: End Course Inequality at City Tech

By Bob Cermele, Carole Harris, Costas Panayotakis, and Benjamin Shepard and others in the City Tech PSC Workload Equity Committee.
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City Tech PSC members with their petition, signed by 325 of 400 full-time faculty.
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Over the last year, faculty members have organized to challenge workplace inequity at City Tech. Our faculty members teach a 24-hour course load, which is higher than the 21-hour course load of all other senior colleges.

City Tech students compete with students at other senior colleges within CUNY, so they are put at a disadvantage when their teachers carry a heavier workload. Our students deserve the same opportunity for a quality education that students at the other senior colleges receive.

City Tech professors are held to the same research standards as professors at other CUNY campuses, so they are put at a disadvantage when they carry a higher teaching load. Professors who teach a 24-hour load have less time to devote to individual students and to scholarship.


RESEARCH MATTERS

When City Tech was founded in 1947, it was established as a community college. It became a senior college in 1981, but its faculty members at first continued to teach the same 27-hour course load required at CUNY’s community colleges. Since then City Tech’s teaching load has been reduced twice, in response to union pressure – but it is still higher than at every other CUNY senior college.

Faculty at every CUNY college carry a heavy teaching load, and the 27-hour course load at CUNY community colleges is not good for either faculty or students. But while system-wide reform is needed, there is no excuse for treating one senior college differently from all others in the CUNY system.

Allowing City Tech faculty adequate time to pursue research benefits students in countless ways, as well as the MetroTech community that surrounds City Tech in downtown Brooklyn. Professors with more time to pursue an active research agenda can incorporate more of their research into their coursework, enriching the content of courses with both the results and the methods of that scholarship. Greater development of faculty research also benefits community economic development, bringing research funds into the area and boosting employment. Today, MetroTech is viewed as an area on the rise, thanks to its concentration of businesses and educational institutions. City Tech should be at the forefront of this economic expansion – providing education, training, research and solutions for a global city and its restructured waterfront.

Since he took office at City Tech, President Russell Hotzler’s stated mission has been to raise the academic level of the college. He has done so by hiring a new cohort of professors. For this he is to be congratulated. Yet these new faculty members are evaluated according to the standards of other senior colleges. The best way to help all City Tech faculty members succeed is to align their teaching load with that of other CUNY senior colleges. This is a matter of fairness and equity: City Tech must be brought in line with CUNY norms.


PETITION CAMPAIGN

For these reasons, faculty members engaged in a petition campaign involving hundreds of face-to-face conversations, in order to request that President Hotzler come forward publicly in support of course load equity on our campus. Members of the City Tech Professional Staff Congress brought these issues to a Labor Management meeting with the president on May 30, 2012. Covering over 80% of full-time faculty, the 325 plus signatures signal that course load equity is a priority for faculty members and should thus also be a priority for Hotzler and his administration.

Faculty members were delighted in the May meeting to hear President Hotzler agree to request the funds needed to achieve our goal. However, the next few weeks in September are crucial to our campaign; campus budgets are written in early fall. The upcoming City Tech budget request needs to include these funds.

City Tech faculty members look forward to President Hotzler’s leadership and will mobilize to support him as he moves to fulfill his promise. To this end, faculty expect to see sufficient money written into the fiscal year 2014 college budget to bring our teaching load to 21 hours per year. Ending the long-standing discrimination against City Tech faculty and students is an urgent matter: the time to address it is now.

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RELATED COVERAGE:

Making Progress at City Tech: Gains in Support for Course Load Equity