CUNY pathways: No faculty support



Barbara Bowen, President of the Professional Staff Congress, the faculty union of the City University of New York (CUNY), sent this message to union members yesterday:

Dear Colleague:

The results of the referendum of No Confidence in Pathways are in: 92% voted No Confidence in Pathways. The vote is a stunning rebuke to the Pathways curriculum and the coercive measures used to impose it.

More than 60% of the 7,202 eligible voters in the referendum among full-time faculty voted—a remarkable rate of participation. A total of 4,322 votes were cast: 3,996 agreeing with the statement of No Confidence in Pathways, and only 323 disagreeing (there were 3 void ballots). The high percentage and high turnout mean that an absolute majority of the full-time faculty has expressed No Confidence in the University’s basic curriculum.

It should be clear now, if it was not before, that CUNY should not move forward with Pathways. A 92% vote of No Confidence is a mandate for change. With a new interim chancellor about to take office, and Chair of the Board Benno Schmidt’s term soon to expire, the moment is right to repeal and rethink Pathways. The result of the referendum empowers us at a critical moment.

Thank you to everyone who voted in the referendum, whatever position you took. Every vote was important. And thank you especially to the hundreds of full-time faculty, part-time faculty and professional staff who worked in support. Together, we held thousands of conversations, person-to-person, about the future of the University. The connections we made with each other will be important as we continue to press for academic quality for our students and fair working conditions for ourselves.

Though there are lots of reasons to be leery of Pathways, the biggest problem with it, from my perspective, is the process of development and implementation, a process that left faculty almost completely out of the loop… a process that took place almost as if there had never been a concept of “shared governance” in American universities… a process that assumed that those at the top know better than those who actually do the work.

Given the difficulties in holding this vote (for a time, I thought I would not be able to vote and worried that many others would not feel as passionately and would not pursue it with sufficient vigor) and that fact that it can only “send a message,” I am shocked and pleased by the result. As Bowen says, an absolute majority of full-time faculty have voiced their opinion against Pathways. This is, in my view, an amazing result. Perhaps it can also be the start of a new day of faculty involvement, not just at CUNY but across the nation.