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Home » Clarion » 2013 » May 2013 » Pathways Viewpoint: Making Our Voices Heard

Pathways Viewpoint: Making Our Voices Heard


If you are a full-time faculty member at CUNY, you will soon receive a ballot in the mail; it is your chance to vote on a motion of No Confidence in Pathways.

For the past two years, with other PSC officers and faculty governance leaders, I have had hundreds of conversations and received close to a thousand messages about Pathways. Not one has voiced support. I have never heard such broad agreement on any subject at CUNY.

Posters like this one are popping up around CUNY.

We hear from every corner of the University, every discipline and college how much harm Pathways will do to the quality of a CUNY education – whether because of its restriction on certain subjects or its slap-dash implementation. One professor called Pathways the greatest moral crisis she had seen in 35 years at CUNY.

Faculty are angered by the tactics that have been used to try to force its adoption. CUNY faculty and professional staff have registered again and again that Pathways should not be implemented as it now stands. Yet we still hear the CUNY administration proclaim that Pathways has the faculty’s support. We know that it is not true, and we need to demonstrate that in a way that is irrefutable.

A Strong Stand

The No Confidence referendum on Pathways is an opportunity to send an unequivocal message at precisely the moment CUNY will have a new administration. CUNY is about to have a new interim chancellor, to be followed by a new chancellor and several new trustees. The No Confidence vote is a chance to let them know in no uncertain terms that the curriculum CUNY seeks to impose is strongly opposed by the faculty – by those who do the work of teaching at City University. A clear No Confidence statement would come at a strategic time.

We are calling for Pathways to be rethought, for CUNY’s new administration to pause and avoid the self-inflicted problems that will multiply if it is imposed in the fall.

This forcibly redesigned curriculum is against the best interests of the students. Its development and implementation deprofessionalize the faculty, taking decisions out of the hands of those who have spent our lives gaining the expertise to make the fundamental decision on what to teach. Pathways imports the worst parts of the K-12 “reforms” to CUNY.

Secret Ballot

College governance bodies have passed more than a hundred resolutions of opposition – that alone should have been enough. In meetings, letters, and petitions, we have registered our position. Yet there has been a stubborn perversion of the truth about faculty support. A vote will make things clear.

And the vote has to be by secret ballot because of the brute-force tactics that administrators have used as they try to put Pathways in place. Because of the level of intimidation felt in almost every department, many people have not felt free to vote their conscience on Pathways. That’s why it’s important that there be a well-regulated, secret-ballot vote. Sadly, we need anonymity to be able to vote without fear of retribution. I sat next to an untenured faculty member at a college governance meeting who whispered to me throughout the meeting about how sickened he was by the academic quality of Pathways. “So you’re voting against approval of the courses?” I asked. His answer was “No, I can’t risk it.”

That is an appalling statement on the atmosphere of coercion at CUNY. Anyone who recognizes their own feelings in that description should take part in this vote. The vote allows us to speak out, and allows the result to be unquestionable.

Adjunct faculty and professional staff at CUNY have also been outspoken against Pathways and the betrayal of CUNY’s mission and standards it represents. The referendum is limited to full-time faculty, however, because of the full-time faculty’s role in the formulation and oversight of curriculum. It is that role that has been consistently violated by the CUNY administration and that group that must correct the misrepresentation of its position. If you are not a full-time faculty member, you can still make your voice heard as an organizer, by speaking to your full-time colleagues and reminding them to take part.

A Critical Moment

If you are part of CUNY’s full-time faculty, we are counting on you to vote. Do not think that because you have already voted in your academic senate or spoken out in your department that you do not have to vote. Courageous as those votes have been, they have also been largely ignored by the central administration. An overwhelming referendum vote cannot be ignored. It sets the stage for the new CUNY administration.

I know – because I have listened to you – that the CUNY faculty has no confidence in Pathways. Don’t miss the chance to make that clear.


Faculty Vote on Pathways Set May 9 – 31
Pathways Debate Goes Public
Viewpoint: Continue the Fight

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