On Friday, November 9, PSC presented the following argument in a Step 2 Grievance hearing on Pathways. Dozens of PSC members attended the hearing overflowing from the hearing room to a rally outside the building.
The PSC presented this grievance due to the development and forced implementation of Pathways. In that process, CUNY violated the principles of Academic Freedom as guaranteed by the PSC-CUNY contract and the CUNY Bylaws, and also violated the Bylaws and College Governance Plans in regard to shared governance over curricular policy. Affected campuses include, but are not limited to Baruch, BMCC, Brooklyn College, City College, COSI, John Jay, Medgar Evers, NYCCT, QCC and York.
At the crux of Academic Freedom is the principle that the faculty of an academic institution has a responsibility to the public to create and maintain a learning environment true to their collective expertise and wisdom, free from political trends, external pressures, and fear of retaliation. Throughout the process of Pathways’ development and imposition, intimidation has been present and threat of retaliation has been both implicit and explicit. In the most egregious example of retaliation against faculty for opposition to a curricular design which would be detrimental to their students, the English Department at QCC was threatened with the elimination of all composition courses, and the untenured and part-time faculty were threatened with termination.
At the outset, the Board should rightly have tasked the UFS with developing a university level educational policy to address the need to ease the transfer process. Rather than being provided the opportunity to devise and develop college level curricular policy, college governing bodies were presented with a fully formulated curricular policy and instructed to create an implementation plan. Many faculty governance bodies issued resolutions regarding Pathways – expressing concern about the process and its impact, or calling for its repeal – but implementation plans were submitted by the administration either in the absence of or in direct opposition to a vote by the elected faculty body. The cover letter to the implementation plan submitted by President Travis of John Jay states: “Resistance to Pathways would block any further consideration of the College Option through our traditional governance process.” Interim President Fritz of COSI may or may not have been aware of the irony in his statement to the Faculty Senate after having unilaterally submitted an implementation plan without approval: “It is my continuing desire to use our regular governance process to comply with the CUNY timeline for the Pathways framework.”
The process by which Pathways has been developed and imposed upon the faculty of the CUNY Colleges indicates it is not a genuine effort to solve a problem with transfers and excess credits. Rather, it is an attempt to subvert and erode shared governance and academic freedom by extending as well as consolidating managerial control over the curriculum. CUNY campuses are beautifully unique, and provide individual and rich academic environments. No student should walk through the door of a CUNY institution and hit a wall limiting their academic experience. By creating compressed and diluted curricula, CUNY is building such a wall. We are asking that not another brick be added until there is an opportunity for the academic community to apply their considered collective wisdom to addressing systemic curricular issues while preserving the quality of a CUNY degree.