We the faculty of the City University of New York (CUNY) express our solidarity with the May Day General Strike and the efforts to create a Free University in Madison Square Park on May 1, 2012. We further support a CUNY-Wide Day of Action on May 2, 2012 to build further momentum for social equality, show the collective power of CUNY faculty, students, and staff, and demonstrate our ability to transform the City University of New York into a university that is accessible, accountable, democratic, and free for all.
We are proud of CUNY’s heritage as the successor to the Free Academy of the City of New York and the historic legacy of CUNY educators committed to building a truly public university free of cost for all New Yorkers. Therefore, we stand against anything that makes CUNY less accessible, less public, less safe, and less affordable.
We oppose the continuously increasing burden of tuitions and fees. We oppose the modeling of CUNY on corporate structures — from excessive executive compensation to the exploitation of contracted and adjunct labor. Increasing tuition costs and the growing debt burden foisted upon students undermine not only CUNY’s institutional goals, but also its legitimacy and the very futures of its students.
We oppose the undermining of local faculty and student governance at CUNY colleges through the imposition of a centralized curriculum. The jettisoning of foreign languages, science lab work, and the devaluation of the creative arts goes against all principles of general liberal arts education. The Pathways program, standardized to the “lowest common denominator” will further devalue the quality of a CUNY education, making it easier for students to transfer within CUNY but harder for their credits to be recognized outside CUNY.
We oppose the intensification of policing inside of CUNY, and protest NYPD and CUNY security surveillance and harassment of student organizations, political activity, and Muslim students.
We condemn police violence and arrests in response to peaceful on-campus protests by dissenting students and faculty, such as those well-documented on November 21st, 2011, and call for all charges to be dropped against those arrested on this date.
We support movements to create alternatives to these inequalities and the austerity and policing measures taken in response to this crisis, such as the Occupy movement, the struggle against securitization and racial profiling, and the movement of CUNY students, educators, and workers.
We support academic freedom and the right to exercise free speech through dissent and peaceful protest.
We support community control and self-determination in our education.
We support meaningful academic employment which allows all faculty, permanent and adjunct, to do good work in our classrooms and provides students with safe, meaningful learning environments.
We support CUNY students and faculty members, both permanent and adjunct, participating in May Day events and the Free University, and we encourage all to contribute.
The May Day General Strike, the Free University in Madison Square Park, and CUNY-Wide Day of Action are public endeavors to make education accessible to all and relevant to the struggles and challenges faced by New York’s 99%. As all those who have struggled to make CUNY a truly public university have shown us, we must take deliberate steps to build the university that we want and need.
Signed (all organizational affiliations for identification only, unless bolded):
Anthony Alessandrini Associate Professor of English, Kingsborough Community College and Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center, CUNY Graduate Center
Neil Smith Distinguished Professor, Anthropology & Geography, CUNY Graduate Center
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