Medgar Evers College Students' Petition for Sunshine Meeting Ignored by Pollard

by Gloria Dulan-Wilson

An article appeared recently in a local Black Newspaper alleging that Medgar Evers College students did not know what was going on on the campus; and that there was a great deal of confusion, ignorance, mis-information and misunderstanding swirling around the controversy of newly appointed William Pollard, who was broughtin to replace 20-year president Edison O. Jackson.

According to the students, this was patently untrue. In fact, just after that edition, MEC students held a demonstration against Pollard outside the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), {in the freezing cold} protesting his giving the keynote speech for the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday celebration.

Additionally, other students, some of whom were members of the NAACP, attempted to engage President Pollard in why he had elected to dismiss the Black Think Tank from the campus; evicted the Center for NU Leadership, after having confiscated their computers; why it was that the Bunche DuBois center had likewise been evicted; and why he had cancelled a contract with Carver Bank (a Black bank) in favor of a contract with CitiBank. In order to quash their stand, the NAACP Youth Council was severely reprimanded, {allegedly by none other than Hazel Dukes, who, it was later learned, had been friends with the wife of the ersatz President}. To the NAACP students’ dismay, rather than being rewarded and complimented for taking a principled stand for their rights, and for upholding the mission of Medgar Evers College as a COMMUNIVERSITY {a fitting term coined by Major Owens, Congressman, Retired, who was one of founding members of Medgar Evers College}. Principles which most of us who grew up in the NAACP Youth Council were taught from Day One {including yours truly - I cut my teeth on Civil Rights in the NAACP's Youth Council at the tender age of 10}. Unlike us, however, MEC NAACP students were silenced, censured, and booted from the campus! The young lady, who was President of the college chapter, is now totally intimidated and disillusioned {way to encourage our youth to be involved, right? The idea is to pass the baton, not hit them in the head with it; mentor, not demean.}

It is clear that the Medgar Evers students not only know what's going on, but that they don’t like it. They are holding weekly poetry slams and fact finding meetings as we speak, to garner the additional support necessary to make sure that Medgar Evers College is still a Black College when they return in the Fall. From so many indications, there's danger of it becoming other than that.

And while these students are juggling between work, study and civic actions, tt is also true that their efforts are not being honored, or respected by the defacto college president, who chose to ignore their most recent request for an audience with him. He, likewise, appears to be ignoring a petition that was presented to him, which had been circulated around the campus with more than 500 (and counting) signatures, demanding both audience and answers.

The petition, which has 31 questions gathered from a poll of Medgar Evers students printed on the reverse side (see below), was given to Pollard prior to the Spring and Easter Break. Thus far, as of today, May 5, 2011, he has neither answered them, nor responded to the petition.

This is the petition below - my comments are in brackets:

In our democratic country of America, the people have a right to TRANSPERANCY. This means that any activities utilizing tax payer funds must be open to the public review. We are respectfully requesting that Medgar Evers College President, Dr. William Pollard, and his executive cabinet, convene a special meeting to answer basic questions about problems which impact students and faculty. We, the undersigned students consider it necessary to have a TRANSPARENCY meeting in order for students to obtain a clear understanding of the critical plans and actions now taking place in our school. (See Questions on the back of the Petition)* Please provide at least one week notice for the meeting date.
The questions were compiled, and the signatures gathered by the Ad-Hoc Committee for Truth Search (Gracia Branch and Bonita Grant)

The Questions, which follow, show that the students know what’s up, and want answers and action:

1. Can you begin the meeting with full disclosure of the college buget and current expenditures?
2. Will more money be made available for student scholarship, computers, the writing lab, the learning center, more library assistance, etc?
3. How was 1.2 million dollars ($600,000 per year for two years) from the Federal predominantly Black Colleges Program spent?
4. Who paid for he $100,000 dollars student trip to Brazil, and when will the students report on their learning experiences there?
5. What was the amount of money spent for single hotel rooms for an overnight stay in Albany for certain privileged students?
6. Who ordered deluxe jackets for $350 each and distributed them to a select few?
7. Did Medgar Evers (college) lose a $20,000 deposit on the Javits Center commencement site reservation?
8. Why has the college spent more than $100,000 on advertisement and publicity campaign?
9. Did the college refuse capital funds that could meet some of our student needs?
10. Why do so many of Medgar Evers college students fail to get the maximum financial aid from Pell Grants?
11. When will your office provide a Master Plan to guide the college for the next five years?
12. What steps have you taken to help faculty and staff understand that CUNY was established to educate the children of working class families?
13. Do you fully support the goals articulated by the community leaders when Medgar Evers was founded?
14. Why did you end the “direct admission” policy which gave priority to the high school graduates of Central Brooklyn?
15. What will you do about highly educated faculty members who give their lectures and then race out of the classrooms and are never available for student consultation?
16. In evaluating faculty, does the committee consider their degree of dedication and commitment?
17. Why are certain very effective faculty members not being reappointed?
18. Why are you dismantling CENTERS at Medgar Evers, while other CUNY colleges are encouraging (and establishing/funding) CENTERS?
19. Why have you exhibited (so) much hostility to a community-based program for ex-offenders { referring to Center For Nu Leadership - which has been evicted from the campus}?
20. Why are you encouraging District Attorney Hynes to use Medgar Evers College to bolster his political image, while he allows increasing crime in our neighborhoods to go unchecked?
21. Why is it so hard for students to get proper advice concerning their academic programs?
22. What is the reason for the constant turnover of our academic advisors?
23. Is your administration planning to better train the staff that is responsible for admissions, financial aid, registration, bursar duties etc?
24. Are you willing to establish a special telephone complaint center (211 phone number) with rapid response to student grievances?
25. Why are staff members never discipline for openly displaying a hostile attitude towards students?
26. Do clerks, secretaries and custodians have tenure?
27. Why is it so complicated to get books that have been put on reserve, and to make copies?
28. Are there irregularities in the administration of student government funds, and is your office conducting an investigation?
29. Do you have hours posted that are available for the students who want an appointment with you? {and if so, where are they, and when are they?}
30. Is it true that you refuse to accept residence in our local community, and CUNY agreed to pay several million dollars for you condo located in Williamsburg?
31. Will you support the establishment of a field house and physical fitness center at the Armory located a few blocks away from Medgar Evers on Bedford Avenue between President and Union Streets? {1579 Bedford Avenue to be exact; it was just learned that the State of New York turned the facility over to the City of New York - the students are seeking assistance from elected officials and representatives, who must move fast in order not to have it turned into yet another homeless shelter in their community}.

Medgar Evers students range in age from 18 to 80; some are just starting out in college, some are returning after having raised their children; some are trying to turn their lives around. Medgar Evers College was established to address the needs of all these people. It is New York's ONLY BLACK COLLEGE! The community must stand with their students, who are their children, neighbors, associates, friends, in making sure that Medgar Evers Mission and pledge to the community is not violated, and tossed aside.

The students are doing their part, and it's time for us to do ours: If you are interested and concerned about the fate of Medgar Evers College, contact the Medgar Evers Coalition at (718) 710-4528; visit the website www.MEfortheCommunity.org; and participate in their meetings, held each Thursday from 7:00pm - 9:00pm (call for location).

Civil Rights leader MEDGAR EVERS, former Field Secretary for the NAACP, fought against injustice in his community and beyond.
Our COMMUNIVERSITY and the people of the community must stand together to make sure that his name and his legacy are not violated by those who have no understanding, care, concern or respect for us, our culture, our history, or our future.

Take care &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson

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