Threats and Coercion at Queensborough Community College
On Wednesday, September 12th, the English Department at Queensborough Community College voted overwhelmingly to reject proposed curriculum changes for Pathways, namely a reduction of hours for English composition courses from four to three. The faculty’s decision was guided by a deep commitment to sustaining a quality education for students.
The administration’s response, an email to the department the next day by Vice President Karen Steele, announced sweeping reprisals. The email threatened eliminating all composition courses, cancelling all English Department searches, calling all full-time faculty reappointments in fall 2013 into question, and announcing that all adjunct faculty will be sent non-reappointment letters in fall 2013.
The response to Steele’s email was swift, intense and both CUNY-wide and national. Condemnation came not only from the PSC, but also from CUNY’s English Discipline Council, from other CUNY English department faculty, and from the AAUP. Media coverage — both local and national, both mass circulation and educational — was extensive.
The QCC administration then took a different approach. Vice President Steele made a public apology, and acknowledged that the QCC administration had changed its position in response to the outcry the original position provoked.
Below are links to key documents, statements of support for the QCC English Department and media coverage.
Statements of Support:
From the PSC:
From the University Faculty Senate Executive Committee.
From the Hunter College Faculty Senate.
From the American Association of University Professors.
From the New Jersey Education Association.
From English Discipline Colleagues:
From QCC Colleagues:
Media Coverage of Pathways/QCC:
The events at QCC got a considerable media buzz. Click here for a full list of links broken down into the following categories — Newspapers, Higher Education News, Radio, Student Media, Blogs, Social Media.
Emailed Threats and Apologies:
- 9/19/12 email from Matthew Goldstein, CUNY Chancellor, to CUNY faculty and staff.
- 9/17/12 email from Karen Steele, QCC VP of Academic Affairs, to QCC faculty and professional staff.
- 9/16/12 email from Diane B. Call, QCC interim president, to QCC faculty.
- 9/13/12 email from Karen Steele, QCC VP of Academic Affairs, to QCC English Department.
[Click here for full coverage of the campaign to repeal Pathways]