In mid-September, 2012, UFS Chair Terrence Martell and PSC President Barbara Bowen sent the following letter to CUNY faculty.
We write as Chair of the University Faculty Senate and President of the Professional Staff Congress to bring you up to date on Pathways and respond to your questions about how faculty can intervene to defend the quality of a CUNY education.
Despite an unprecedented level of faculty opposition and mounting evidence that Pathways will hurt our students, Chancellor [Matthew] Goldstein’s administration has continued to move ahead with implementation. We believe that the CUNY Board of Trustees and Chancellor Goldstein’s administration are in violation of the law, and we have brought two lawsuits against the University related to Pathways. Eightieth Street’s clear strategy, however, is to create an artificial sense of urgency and reinforce the impression that Pathways is inevitable.
Pathways is not inevitable. As faculty with the right to vote on curriculum, we have the power to say yes or no to its implementation. Our vote on curriculum is our power. We do not have to wait for the outcome of the lawsuits to act if we believe that the Pathways curriculum does not meet professional standards in our disciplines or does not provide the education our students deserve.
The courses developed for the Pathways core curriculum must be approved by the elected faculty governance bodies on each campus before they can be put in place. New or revised courses must also be voted on by the appropriate academic department and then in college-wide curriculum committees and governance bodies. As faculty we have the right – in fact, the responsibility – to vote in the best interest of our students on matters of curriculum. Faculty at CUNY fought for the right to faculty governance, and we have had to fight to keep it. We should use that right now, when it matters most.
You may decide that the proposed new courses – some the result of extensive faculty effort throughout the summer – meet the academic needs of our students. You may decide that the courses fail to meet those needs. You may feel that insufficient time has been allowed to deliberate on an entire new curriculum, and may want to demand more time.
Whatever your judgment is, you have the right to vote your conscience as a member of an academic department, a curriculum committee or a college senate. You also have the right to request a secret ballot. Voting according to the professional standards of your discipline is a matter of academic freedom. Under the union contract, the University explicitly subscribes to academic freedom, and pledges to maintain freedom of inquiry, teaching, research and publication.
No curriculum is inevitable unless we allow it to be. The leadership of UFS and PSC are prepared to challenge any college that does not honor its faculty governance vote, as we challenged six CUNY college administrations in a lawsuit filed this summer under the Open Meetings Law.
Find out when the proposed new courses for the Pathways curriculum will be submitted for a vote in your department and your college senate. Make sure Pathways courses are submitted for a vote. Votes may be conducted very early in the semester. Whatever position you take, Pathways is too important to our students’ future and to the meaning of a CUNY education not to take a stand.