Letter from Barbara Bowen
Students, staff and faculty at universities across the country have designated this year’s May Day as a day of protest, study and resistance to destructive policies of the Trump presidency. Many of President Trump’s policies directly target universities. The arts, humanities, and sciences face not only funding cuts but an assault on the concept of free inquiry. Climate change data are being removed from the public domain; university budgets are being held hostage by state governments and threatened with political retaliation by the federal government. Hate crimes have increased dramatically since Trump’s election, and thousands of our students now live in fear for themselves and their families.
Let’s make Monday, May 1, a day to join a nationwide university moratorium in resistance to the assaults on knowledge, research, our students’ safety and our own. Register here to participate.
At CUNY, teaching faculty can observe the moratorium by integrating into our classes an examination of the impact of Trump’s policies as they are relevant to your subject, whether it be biology, finance, nursing or history. Professional staff can integrate into their relevant conversations with students discussion of how new federal policies affect students. Many of us will then join the May Day March in Manhattan at 5:00 p.m. in support of workers and immigrant rights. Some union chapters are holding teach-ins or marches on campus that day.
Collectively, the 27,000 members of the PSC are an unmatchable resource for materials that can help us to analyze the current moment and “teach resistance.” Is there an article, a website, a graph, a video that you would recommend to others for May Day? If so, please add it to the drop-box the PSC website is hosting. The drop-box will also include a selection of primary sources and commentary compiled by union activists to start the conversation. Look for a message Monday with a link enabling you to view all of the material. But start contributing now! This is a moment that demands sharing our knowledge. All PSC members are welcome to contribute materials.
College faculty and staff are in a unique position to challenge a presidency that has defended “alternative facts” and invoked Hitler as someone who did not use chemical warfare to attack his “own people.” We have a responsibility to use our power in academically responsible ways to expose untruths and demand that universities be safe and productive. That’s what the national May Day Moratorium is about. Please add your voice and download this flier to distribute on campus.
I plan to integrate into my classes on May 1 how President Trump’s policies affect my area of scholarship, and ask my students how they are affected. On May Day I will teach and learn and continue giving CUNY students the tools and knowledge to examine the world—and change it!