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Response to "SAFE CUNY" email

Jul 13, 2022

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A Message to PSC Delegates
President James Davis
July 12, 2022

Dear Delegates,

I’m writing because you and your colleagues may receive an email from an anonymous group called “SAFE CUNY.” They are spamming people at their CUNY addresses, calling for my resignation as PSC President. They reference my testimony at last week’s City Council Committee on Higher Education hearing about anti-Semitism at CUNY. This is a distraction from the critical work we do at the PSC, but delegates should be aware in case you get questions. Anyone who wants to know what actually happened at the hearing can view my full testimony here (beginning around 4:54). It includes an exchange with a MAGA Republican member of the Council who was trying to extract from me, as she had just done with CUNY representatives, a denunciation of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against Israel or a full-throated endorsement, and I was not willing to engage in that disingenuous exercise.

The “SAFE CUNY” email includes a link to a video clip recorded without my knowledge and taken out of context to make a misleading claim. At a recent PSC chapter meeting, I had mentioned a vote I cast nine years ago as a member of the American Studies Association in favor of their endorsement of the BDS campaign. I’d raised it within a broader discussion of social justice unionism, my No vote on the PSC’s June 2021 DA resolution, and revisions to our resolution policy, which the DA approved in December to affirm our representative role with members. Like other right-wing smear tactics, the video was edited and juxtaposed in a deceptive way.

I believe that many members of the Committee on Higher Education are sincerely concerned with the troubling rise in anti-Semitism in NYC – from which CUNY is not immune – while others seem more interested in suppressing free speech on this subject. Like the “Resign PSC” messages circulated last year, this latest email is an attempt to undermine our unity and derail us from our collective purpose. They are part of a broader effort by right wing anti-union organizations to identify wedge issues post-Janus, sow internal division, and defund unions by undermining membership. I know that we are better than that at the PSC, and if this past year showed us anything, it showed what is possible when we remain united.

I regret having the occasion to contact you about such matters, but please feel free to share this with any interested colleagues.

In solidarity,

James Davis

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