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UPDATED 2/20: Responses to the One-Sided New York Times Article of Jan. 13, 2014

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From John Alter:

As a graduate of the GCWE, and former student of Professor Wilson, I serve as Chair of the Committee of Concerned Students, Alumni, Faculty, and Staff – a group determined to assure the campus at 25 Broadway remains dedicated to worker education.  I was disheartened to read Monday’s article publicly airing unproven accusations with little mention of what is the more important story of Brooklyn College’s destruction of an internationally lauded worker education program. In my experience, the GCWE provided an outstanding MA program that is otherwise not available to non-traditional students in NYC. Unfortunately, this article promulgates a false narrative without the due diligence that would otherwise uncover a Brooklyn College administration that left students and alumni of the GCWE unnecessarily defending the merit of their degrees. In a larger social context this shows how people of color, immigrants, single mothers, and the working class are all too frequently denied access to higher education and maligned in the process.

John Alter

Chair, Committee of Concerned Students, Alumni, Faculty and Staff

From Anthony Gronowicz:

The January 12, 2014, story entitled, “CUNY Hopes to Dismiss Brooklyn College Official Over Financial Inquiry,” misses the reality that everyone in this longstanding program was purged, and the program itself dismantled.  Full-time faculty were involuntarily reassigned, and adjunct faculty and part-time student assistants summarily fired.  Students enrolled in degree-earning disciplines were left hanging, no longer able to complete degrees in a program that for over thirty years turned out graduates who went on to become elected government leaders and union officials.

It is clearly an academic freedom issue because so many rights of so many were violated.  It is an academic freedom issue because as an instructor one can no longer teach and as a student one can no longer learn in a stimulating environment in lower Manhattan where working people conveniently took classes on their way to earning a substantial degree in fields that “enhanced academic skills and job mobility”, a quote taken from the Middle States 2005 external review that specifically commended this program that CUNY management has seen fit to destroy.

Anthony Gronowicz

Adjunct Professor of Social Science at the Borough of Manhattan Community College

From Stephen Lieberstein:

Monday’s story about Brooklyn College seeking to dismiss Joseph Wilson, the long-time director of the College’s Graduate Center for Worker Education, misses the real story. While Prof. Wilson is in the midst of a due process hearing far from concluded, the Graduate Center and its academic program has been largely dismantled to the detriment of its students, mostly workers of color, whose achievements the college has denigrated.

Some points in the story are simply wrong, as the one reporting that students were kept out of the Center until the evening because some of its rooms had been rented out during the day. In fact, in my eight years teaching there, many students and others who worked nearby came in during the day to speak to the academic staff. Only when an interim director replaced Prof. Wilson did the Graduate Center empty out, and students and instructors were sometimes prohibited from meeting there outside of class hours. Once a vital intellectual hub, it became a littered, empty shell in the guise of “improving” the program. That’s the real story.

Stephen Leberstein

Former Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College

From Charles Levenstein:

Apparently, Professor Joe Wilson received a variety of grants from sources outside Brooklyn College which were in part used to supplement his salary with the approval of the College Administration. If Brooklyn College now realizes that it made some sort of mistake, then it can request return of the funds from Professor Wilson – but to accuse him of malfeasance because of errors they have made is a classic case of “blaming the victim.”

In an era in which faculty are urged to find outside funding, it is very strange to be punishing an ambitious and entrepreneurial faculty member for his accomplishments. Salary supplements provide real incentives to faculty, especially in public universities where program funds are scant. It is a grave mistake for Brooklyn College and CUNY administrations to be sending a message that efforts to find outside support will be subject to arbitrary and punitive rules.

Charles Levenstein, Ph.D., M.S.

Professor Emeritus of Work Environment University of Massachusetts Lowell; and

Adjunct Professor of Occupational Health Tufts University School of Medicine

From Eric Radezky:

January 29, 2014

To the Editor:

I write in response to the January 13, 2014 New York Times article entitled “CUNY Hopes to Dismiss Graduate Center Official Over Financial Inquiry.”  The tone of the article inappropriately portrays Professor Joe Wilson as if he has already been found guilty of whatever financial mismanagement CUNY accuses him of.  To date, no such judgment has been rendered and no proof of wrongdoing has been offered to the public.  All we have are accusations and conjecture.   Although the article’s author Ariel Kaminer stops short of saying Professor Wilson is guilty, rebroadcasting such accusations in the middle of an investigation can destroy a person’s reputation, especially when and if that person is found to be innocent as I believe Professor Wilson will be.

I graduated from the Graduate Center for Worker Education six years ago.  Since then I have gone on to work for a New York State Assemblyman and I am currently completing my doctorate in political science at Rutgers University.  Without the GCWE program and without the guidance of Professor Wilson I would not be where I am today.  I am sure that a lot of people in this city can say the same.  For that reason I am dismayed by any rush to judgment that would tarnish his good name, and I beseech the Editors of the New York Times to print a correction that clearly states that Professor Wilson is presumed innocent and that anything in Kaminer’s article that would cast doubt on that assumption was printed in error.

Sincerely,

Eric Radezky

From Jamell Brady:

As a scholar and graduate student of Brooklyn College’s GCWE, as well as a former student of Professor Wilson, I was dismayed by the slanted article “CUNY Hopes to Dismiss Brooklyn College Official Over Financial Inquiry”. In a short of words, this has been nothing more than a modern day public lynching and a severe disservice to America’s way of due process. While the stakeholders at Brooklyn College has unequivocally decided to dismantle this well lauded program, the teachings and the curriculum at GCWE as a whole has empowered me with a voice to stand-up and say No, enough is enough.

As a top down approach, marginalization is becoming too common, more importantly widely accepted. While working a full-time job, paying taxes and being a well-respected community member, my degree is a proud symbol of my achievements. I am extremely disheartened that the NY Times has decided to print such a disproven, unfounded and factually inappropriate article. The stakeholders at the Times should be beholden to their mantra, “All the news that’s fit to print”; nevertheless facts should matter in time for the printing press.

In solidarity,

Jamell Brady, M.A. ‘12

 

From Barbara Bowen:

To the Editor:
 
Re “CUNY Hopes to Dismiss Brooklyn College Official Over Financial Inquiry,” Ariel Kaminer, Jan. 12:
The Professional Staff Congress/CUNY (PSC) is the union that defends the rights of the CUNY faculty and professional staff, including Professor Joseph Wilson.  Your article does not mention that we declined to comment on the allegations against Professor Wilson; no matter how strong the member’s case is, the union does not publicly discuss open disciplinary cases. 
 
The PSC and CUNY have a jointly negotiated process for resolving allegations of misconduct, a process that includes a final decision by an impartial arbitrator.  In numerous cases CUNY has leveled serious charges against employees only to have a neutral arbitrator rule that the allegations had no merit.  It is improper for CUNY to attempt to try its case in the media, and we are disappointed that the New York Times would permit CUNY to do so.     
 
Barbara Bowen
President, Professional Staff Congress/CUNY
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Discussion

2 thoughts on “UPDATED 2/20: Responses to the One-Sided New York Times Article of Jan. 13, 2014

  1. The New York Times is now no more than an upper-class tabloid providing everything the liberal upper class wants to read. Scandal, whether true or not, is particularly juicy if African Americans are protegonists.

    Posted by Preet Kirwahal | January 19, 2014, 6:23 am
  2. As a graduate of GCWE I can never remember a time where I was refused entry till evening as stated in the January 12, New York Times article. In fact, there were countless occasions when I and fellow classmates entered the campus at noon and utilized the computer room and avail ourselves to empty classrooms for study. Also, many graduates continued to utilized the computer room to improve their resume. After graduating in 2009 I continued to utilized the campus computer room for my own personal research work. Furthermore, many graduates like myself,continued to come to the campus to hear guest speakers and continue to participate in campus activities. Many of the faculty remained our friends and we continued to visit them after graduation. Unfortunately, this all came to an end after the removal of Joe Wilson and many of the beloved faculty of the campus. It was only then when I encounter a dirty, deserted campus with no one to greet you. I no longer had access to the computer room because it was closed. A vital community institution which was dear to my heart and fellow graduates ceased to exist. The January 12, New York Times article was as gross misrepresentation of that institution and as trashy as the floors of the now derelict GCWE campus.

    Posted by Kenneth Sullivan | January 27, 2014, 1:21 pm

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