Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress at City University of New York (PSC CUNY), has sent this statement of support and solidarity.
July 12, 2013
AFT Local 2121
Thank you for defending a broad vision of public higher education for community college students during what must be a difficult time for you and your members.
I was angered to read that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) plans to strip City College of San Francisco of its accreditation next summer. City College has a record of success in retaining and graduating students, especially underprepared students. As a leader of faculty who teach at an urban university system with seven community colleges, I know the challenges that many community college students face. And I know how hard it can be to serve those students in a climate of public disinvestment and austerity.
How frustrating it must be to succeed for your 85,000 students despite budget cuts and painful concessions, to win new public investments, and then be told by your accreditation agency—an organization with a clear anti-union bias—that your college will be closed down because of financial troubles.
I was also deeply offended at the ACCJC’s claim that City College’s financial situation is a result of your faculty’s role in college governance. As if years of underfunding had nothing to do with it. As if 2,500 full- and part-time faculty and staff at City College hadn’t endured layoffs and pay cuts, overcrowded classes and other poor working conditions. Shared governance is the only way to make sure access, diversity, academic quality and rigor remain priorities in this environment—in any environment. Without a strong faculty voice expressed via our unions and our college governance systems, the corporatizers and “reformers” would hollow out education at our community colleges and turn them into degree factories and vocational schools.
You have the support and solidarity of the PSC’s leadership and all of its members; we are your sisters and brothers in the labor movement and the academy. We wish you luck in your efforts to expose the conflicts and improper actions of the ACCJC and in your dealings with the Special Trustee. If there is anything our union or I personally can do to be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask.