For more than 30 years, the Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Graduate Center for Worker Education, located in downtown Manhattan, has provided an opportunity for New York City working-class professionals to earn masters’ degrees in Urban Policy & Administration with specializations in New York City Government and Health and Nutrition Sciences. Proud alumni have gone on to elected and public office in New York City and careers in law, higher education, labor unions, public health, and non-profits. In short, the GCWE has made it possible for New York City’s diverse, working-class population to get the skills and credentials they need to advance in their professional careers and also advance the interests of the working-class as a whole.
Despite the vitality of this program, recent events have left students, alumni, faculty, and staff in CUNY seriously concerned over the future of the Brooklyn College Graduate Center for Worker Education and its degree programs. Professors have been dismissed, enrollment and classes dramatically reduced, and support services have all but stopped at the center’s Downtown Manhattan campus.
Since spring 2012, Brooklyn College has withdrawn the resources that had once nurtured the Graduate Center for Worker Education, and has visibly removed necessary educational services for its hard-working students. The removal of essential staff, faculty, and resources has been followed with negligible communication by the college administration to students, faculty, staff, labor unions and the many communities that the center serves. For those students struggling to finish their degrees this situation has created an environment that is not conducive to learning. The GCWE, stripped of the people and programs that made it work so well in the past 30 years, no longer provides students with an environment that fosters the mutual respect, trust, support, and the tools needed to excel within an institution of higher learning. For the remaining students, classes are cancelled with little notice, no administrative staff is available to help, and no faculty advisors and deputies are available for essential consultation about our academic progress.
Today, the halls of the GCWE campus are virtually abandoned and the program is all but defunct. Left with no other choices, GCWE students have begun applying to other CUNY campuses. Unfortunately, these other campuses are not as well-suited to working-class, trade unionists seeking a professional education to better themselves and New York City.
We deserve a learning environment that promotes the educational and pedagogical goals of New York City working-class professionals. Therefore, today, we students, alumni, concerned faculty and citizens ask you to join us in demanding that Brooklyn College and CUNY honor its commitment to the working-class professionals of New York City by restoring the full-service degree programs at the Downtown Manhattan campus of the Graduate Center for Worker Education. We view the withdrawal of staff and faculty and the restriction of admission to New York City residents as a breach of CUNY’s commitment to educate students seeking to improve their lives and those of their diverse communities The dismantling of this long-standing program ranks with other attacks on working people across the country. Brooklyn College should be better. We seek the immediate restoration of the GCWE for the working people of New York City.
Here is the petition text:
Don’t jeopardize the incredible legacy Brooklyn College has in empowering New York City workers. Fully restore the Urban Policy & Administration and Health and Nutrition Studies programs at the Downtown Manhattan campus of the Brooklyn College Graduate Center for Worker Education. These programs are crucial for hard-working people of New York City, their families and diverse communities.
1. Full restoration of the educational and support services available to students at the Downtown Manhattan campus of the Brooklyn College Graduate Center for Worker Education Program.
2. Extend the admissions deadline for fall to August 1st, as do other CUNY worker education programs.
3. Accept students for spring admission. For a program to be open to working people, they must be able to make their own decision about when they are able to begin their graduate study.
4. Restore a full-time academic advisor to the Brooklyn College Graduate Center for Worker Education in lower Manhattan to assist students, guide them through the admissions process, advise them on their program, and help them to register, as is the practice in all the other CUNY worker education programs.
5. Assign an interim director to the Brooklyn College Graduate Center for Worker Education who is committed to sustaining a worker education program.
6. Conduct a full search for an equally committed permanent director. The student body must approve the individual finally chosen as director and be fully involved in all stages of the interview and selection process.
7. Restore the Brooklyn College Graduate Center for Worker Education’s full complement of activities; e.g. forums, conferences, etc.
8. Reinstate the quality faculty members who previously taught at the center.
9. Provide a clear statement about how students will be able to take the necessary course work to fulfill the center’s graduation requirements despite the current dearth of options.
To add your name to the petition, follow the link to moveon.org