By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
I received this statement from former Congressman Major Owens, who is currently part of the faculty at Medgar Evers. The term Communiversity was coined because the very founding of Medgar Evers began at the community level. It was not initiated by CUNY. And the ground rules and social agreements that evolved as a result of the dialogue that eventually evolved into the institution we now know as Medgar Evers, was a result of the demands made by the community for standards of excellence, coupled with the concessions that needed to be made to accommodate a community that was comprised of families that may never have had an opportunity to send their children to college had it not been for Medgar Evers.
Now the contract with the community has been broken by the newly appointed President and Provost, who obviously neither know nor care that their responsibility is to expand the programs; not contract them. To enhance the program for the constituency (I.e Brooklynites and those of the greater New York area). Officially and culturally, Medgar Evers is the only Black College in New York. It is the second Black college in the North, Lincoln University being the first.
Yet Pollard alleges that he was not brought there to be the president of a Black College. Which, as far as I and so many others are concerned, means that he needs to go back to where ever he came from and make room for some one who is thoroughly committed to being the Black president of a Black college that is devoted to the education of the students who have been largely ignored, cheated, and deprived of a sound academic foundation.
Medgar Evers did not turn students away, but provided them with the remediation they require to succeed in college - that is, until the new president.
Medgar Evers had one of the finest Black think tanks, comprised of former elected officials, activists, and individuals who came together to make life even richer for the students. That is until the new president.
Medgar Evers had one of the few programs that provided ex-offenders with a college degree and an opportunity to make a life for themselves, and make a positive contribution to their community and society. That is, until the new president.
Medgar Evers had an open enrollment. That is, until the new president.
Under the guise of "academic excellence" these programs have been dismantled. Brooklyn students now have to meet the CUNY criteria in order to get into Medgar Evers;they are not allowed to apply directly to Medgar Evers, but go through a screening process.
What do you think is going on? What kinds of tales have you been told? How does dismantling these programs effect academic excellence? Why have the student organizations been told that their funds would be cut if they challenge the new methods of the President and the Provost? Why have so many Caribbean and other students suddenly been cut off from financial aid.
This is a new form of ETHNIC CLEANSING. And guess who is the target? Guess who gets to be the heavy and do the dirty work for the CUNY powers that be.
BROOKLYN, TIME TO WAKE UP TO WHAT'S GOING ON UNDER YOUR VERY NOSES. ELECTED OFFICIALS - IT'S TIME TO REPRESENT. TIME TO PUT CUNY ON NOTICE AS WELL AS THE NEWLY APPOINTED, and highly disappointing PRESIDENT AND PROVOST.
When you don't know who you are vis a vis your own people, you are the enemy.
In my Februaray 14 article on MEC, I included a petition that could be cut and pasted and emailed to the coalition. Please revisit that article, and, if you have not already done so, please cut and paste the petition, fill it out and email it to the email on the petition.
Let's get our COMMUNIVERSITY back on track.
Stay Blessed &
The following is Major Owens Letter:
THE DREAM OF COMMUNIVERSITY LIVES ON
Statement by Congressman Major Owens
Decades before it became a slogan endorsed even by presidential candidate John McCain, the freedom fighters of Central Brooklyn clearly understood that “Education is a Civil Right”.
To bring this process to full fruition the “Founders” of Medgar Evers College demanded a full-fledged American college. A well qualified and dedicated core of academicians and scholars was anticipated to provide, not only for the quality education of matriculating students, but also serve as a fountain of expertise, overflowing beyond campus walls to assist in community problem-solving, and neighborhood uplift. Many of us supported this concept we chose to call “Communiversity”.
The dream of Communiversity envisions the following:
- A robust College Department of Education offering assistance to struggling local early childhood programs and public schools
- A Business/Public Administration Department to help local small businesses and non-profit service organizations
- Ongoing involvement in Social Engineering projects designed to remediate or solve pressing problems such as the large number of local residents returning to the community after incarceration
- An aggressive program for the utilization of available funds for the education of veterans
- Weekend public seminars and conferences related to Black History, Culture and Current Issues to fill a huge intellectual vacuum
- A Communications Department to enhance the abundant supply of Central Brooklyn talent; help refine our magnificent church choirs; and to encourage the constantly evolving street folk music, such as RAP, into more creative channels
- A more robust Health and Science Department to end the shameless absence of local residents from technical and professional positions in present and future health care services.
The list goes on.
No hopes for a competitive football team (costs are too high), but low cost basketball and other sports could be conducted in ways that would inspire talented athletes throughout Central Brooklyn. And fiscal restraints are not great enough to block the creation of a nationally competitive marching band to inspire local high schools to resurrect and refine their bands. Greater integration and engagement with the community will yield enormous educational benefits.
The Founders want a “COMMUNIVERSITY”. The Central Planners of CUNY want “Community College Number 7”, an impotent, puppet satellite. For forty years a covert war has been waged against Medgar Evers. Only in December 2009 was the college able to achieve its full State chartered status despite the CUNY Central sabotage. Only now, forty years late, is Medgar Evers able to receive its rightful capital funding from the State.
The present escalating turmoil at Medgar Evers is a continuation of the struggle for a communiversity and against CUNY command and control. Two levels of institutional cannibalism are now in motion. CUNY Central decision-making is dominated by stubborn Caesars and insensitive Napoleons. Their polite cannibalism started with the rejection of open enrollment. They have steadily fled from the original lofty purpose of CUNY: the education of New York City students from working families. The mission rhetoric remains but the telltale fiscal policies have clearly spun out of orbit. Far too great a portion of limited resources has been misdirected into funding a graduate school rivalry. Higher education needs that are already being met by excellent East Coast Ivy League institutions are being redundantly addressed by the CUNY oligarchy. The unique challenge of educating graduates of New York City high schools has been abandoned. CUNY’s optimum reason for existence is being smothered. Extreme budget cuts will hasten this process.
Worse than the smothering is the institutional cannibalism. First the CUNY Central pet projects drain off public and private funds needed by constituent colleges. While corporate and foundation funds are pursued very little private fundraising help is offered to constituent colleges. In the financial capital of the world the ratio of private contributions per CUNY student is shamefully low. Appropriate priority setting would lead CUNY to separate its budget for graduate education activities from the undergraduate budget. Over the next few years these redundant operations should be moved toward a self-financing program with particular encouragement of out-of-state and foreign students who would be required to pay fees commensurate with Ivy League market rates.
The present situation, which refuses to recognize the undergraduate priority, encourages local cannibalism. Library assistants and laboratory aides, tutors, adjuncts, personnel at the lowest end of the scale are the first fired. This means that to accrue any meaningful savings more and more of them must go. But despite the budget cuts crunch salaries for executive staff have gone up. The standard is set by the salary of the Chancellor, which is higher than the salary of the President of the U.S. Presidents of the top CUNY colleges must have paychecks close to that of the Chancellor and their Vice Presidents must be paid an amount not too far below that, etc. All of these functionaries probably deserve even higher pay. But there is a budget state of emergency. The weak will not quietly allow themselves to be devoured by the strong.
After forty years of struggle and deprivation Medgar Evers deserves a transparent fiscal report from CUNY showing how it has been treated in comparison with the other senior colleges. The students, alumni and Founders of Medgar Evers deserve a full and transparent fiscal report and Master Plan from the present college administration. After more than a year of waiting for a Master Plan the campus anxiety has begun to swell out of control.
The basic question is: Are there forces still scheming to make Medgar a community college or can we hope to move now to truly establish a Communiversity? Hiring, firing, appointments, promotions, evictions of Centers; all actions can be better understood and opposed or supported within the context of a Master Plan.
NOW THAT KNOW, WHAT WILL YOU DO?
Stay Blessed &