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Home » Issues » Why a No Confidence Vote, and Why Now?

Why a No Confidence Vote, and Why Now?

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See how to vote No Confidence in Pathways.

A message from Dr. Barbara Bowen, president of the PSC

April 25, 2013

Dear Colleague,

In a few days you will receive in the mail a secret ballot for a referendum on a motion of No Confidence in Pathways. Voting by secret ballot takes place from May 9 to May 31. I urge you to participate in the referendum and to vote in support of the No Confidence motion.

Why a No Confidence vote, and why now? Because this is the strategic moment to send a message to the incoming CUNY administration in a form they cannot ignore—and because the opposition to Pathways is so profound that it merits a No Confidence vote.

University faculties traditionally take No Confidence votes only when the future of the institution is at stake and when all other methods of registering opposition have been unheard. We are in that position now. More than 100 resolutions have been passed against Pathways, more than 5,000 people at CUNY have signed a petition calling for its repeal, both the University Faculty Senate and the PSC have registered their opposition, and several college governance bodies have voted for an outright halt—a moratorium—on any action on Pathways.

Yet the current CUNY administration plows ahead. Worse, they justify their adherence to Pathways in part by misrepresenting the faculty’s views. Despite overwhelming faculty opposition, CUNY’s reports on Pathways are studded with references to faculty support.

We know it’s not true that the faculty as a whole is in support of Pathways. But we need to make that clear in a form that the CUNY administration cannot ignore and about which they cannot lie. That’s why the union has taken the unusual step of initiating a secret-ballot referendum on a motion of No Confidence. The vote will be conducted by the American Arbitration Association through a secure ballot among all full-time faculty. Voting—which can be done through a website, by telephone or by surface mail—will take place between May 9 and May 31. All you have to do to vote No Confidence is click or check the box indicating that you support the motion. The text of the motion appears below.

CUNY is about to see a change of at least the two top management positions—interim chancellor and chair of the Board of Trustees. This moment of transition offers a chance to demand a rethinking of Pathways and a return to respect for academic freedom and faculty governance. A strong vote of No Confidence would send a message to the new administration that the faculty responsible for teaching the curriculum have no confidence in the curriculum that has been imposed. It would register the injustice of moving ahead with a curriculum that will hurt our students. It would constitute a public demand for change.

Many faculty over the past two years have taken courageous stands against Pathways, sometimes risking their jobs to do so. But too many faculty have been intimidated or coerced into remaining silent or voting against their conscience. A secret ballot, administered by the most respected balloting organization, eliminates opportunities for coercion. The American Arbitration Association will protect the secrecy of your ballot, just as it does in union elections and contract votes. You are free to vote for what you believe.

Pathways is not the only battle we will face as the “reforms” that have attacked the soul of K-12 education are visited on higher education. Pathways is about deprofessionalizing the faculty and consolidating administrative power at least as much as it is about a new curriculum. If we do not do everything we can now to challenge the deprofessionalization of the faculty, we can expect to see it take root and grow.

Take the opportunity that has been created by a change in administrators at CUNY to send a strong message. Take the opportunity to vote, from May 9 to May 31. After hundreds of conversations with faculty across the University, the other union officers and I have heard a profound lack of confidence—intellectual, professional and moral confidence—in Pathways. If that is your position, make it known by voting No Confidence. Whatever your position, vote in the referendum in May. Your voice should be heard.

In solidarity,

Barbara Bowen
President, PSC/CUNY


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