Medgar Evers Coalition: Keeping the Pressure On

by Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

The following is a reprint of a joint statement to the press from the
Medgar Evers College Coalition for Academic Excellence and Mission Integrity
(MECCoalition@gmail.com | www.MEfortheCommunity.org), I am including it here because I want to start the year off right (the academic year) with Brooklyn, CUNY, Pollard, Johnson, the students at MEC, faculty, and other individuals who are interested in justice being served, that we not only have not given up on the removal of Pollard as ersatz president of the New York's only Black college, but we have, and will continue, to upstep the pressure.

This statement is to be shared, reprinted, put out as a flyer, a poster, and definitely a reminder that the actions on the part of the Chancellor and other are in violation to the well being of the faculty, administration, women students as well as female professional, who have been putting forth best efforts to be of service to the college.

It also speaks to the favoritism accorded the MEC administrator that would not be acceptable at any of the other senior colleges under the City University Umbrella. Somehow, because subconsciously Blacks have been relegated to the level of second class citizen, suspect of wrong doing, but not worthy of protection from "wrongdoers", these issues have been allowed to languish, with no direct action, and no incisive investigation. But the MEC Coalition will neither allow them to be ignored nor swept under the proverbial rug. They have to be dealt with here and now, on our time, not when the Chancellor get's damned good and ready. The phrase "justice delayed, is justice denied is as relevant here as it has been throughout the history of civil rights, where those who have ulterior motives, have used their position to circumvent justice and the rule of law.


Public Statement for Immediate Release September 14, 2011

Sexual Harassment Charges Against MEC President and Provost.

No Action by CUNY. The MEC Coalition Continues Its Call for Resignations!

Sexual harassment at Medgar Evers College, CUNY (MEC) is the latest charge against the new administration, led by President William Pollard and Provost Howard C. Johnson. The Medgar Evers College Coalition for Academic Excellence and Mission Integrity (The Coalition) calls on CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein to intervene and take action. The Medgar Evers College administration must be held accountable and must address these allegations.

Most of the sex discrimination accusations focus on the improper actions of Provost Johnson. These instances compound several prior actions taken against women in leadership positions by the president and provost. In addition, there are continuing issues regarding gender inequity in executive employment at the College. Specifically, although there are numerous male executives, Medgar Evers College does not have a single female executive at the vice president or higher level. Viewed collectively, these acts form a clear pattern of disrespect and discrimination against women by the College’s top leadership.

For example, Dr. Gale Gibson, the Dean of Freshman Studies, complained that Provost Johnson made "nasty jokes" questioning the paternity of her child while she was pregnant last year. Dr. Gibson called the situation “emotionally stressful. It was disturbing because I was seven months pregnant. I felt like these people were trying to make me lose my baby!”

These inappropriate comments were followed by a salacious email that circulated throughout the campus. Gibson's lawyer reports that Medgar Evers' legal counsel assured that they would investigate the claims, but to date, according to Gibson’s lawyer "no investigation has been launched." Dr. Gibson has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Provost Johnson.

Just last week, television news journalist Pablo Guzman of WCBS News interviewed Dr. Zulema Blair, another female academic at Medgar Evers College, who is also filing charges against the College. Dr. Blair was terminated by the administration after she was the target of the same vicious, sexually harassing email that circulated throughout the campus. Until the fall 2011, Dr. Blair was the chairperson of the College’s Public Administration Department.

Prior discrimination complaints include the administration’s demoting of a female Vice President, removing the elected female chair of the Education Department, and threatening to remove another woman academic who is an elected department chair.

The College has failed to resolve this imbalance. Even more egregious is that although the complaints against Pollard and Johnson continue to mount, CUNY’s leadership has failed to acknowledge or act on any of these matters.

These most recent complaints are a part of what The Coalition has highlighted during its “What’s Going On at Medgar?” public awareness campaign. Since last year, The Coalition has challenged the administration on the following issues: the ongoing low morale, its inability to engage faculty and staff, its failure to reinstitute the student writing center which was eliminated, and its failure to implement an academic strategic plan. The Coalition also claims that the excessive hiring of administrators and consultants has far outweighed the hiring of new faculty in academic departments (which have lost veteran faculty). Other issues include a lack of new degree programs, a decrease in the retention and graduation rates of students, and the spurious removal of qualified adjunct faculty from academic departments.

Although the complaints have mounted since the new administration took office in 2009, nothing is being done. These attacks against women at Medgar Evers College, where women constitute 70% of the student popular, must end. If the College’s administration fails to act, then CUNY must make them act. The CUNY chancellor must stop supporting the misdeeds of this administration.

The Coalition repeats its call for the removal of William Pollard as President and Howard Johnson as Provost. Medgar Evers College women, students, faculty, and the community deserve better." #

A recent article appearing the Amsterdam News also highlights the fact that the MEC Coaltion is still dedicated and determined to return MEC to its original mission and covenant with the community. Meetings are being held throughout the community, from household to household to ensure that the residents are fully apprised of the efforts to undermine the 20+ years of steady progress the college had made under former President Edison O. Jackson, and now all but decimated in less than two years via the combined efforts of Chancellor Goldstein, (ersatz) president Pollard, and Johnson.

While the current MEC student body appears to not yet have fully grasped the meaning of the issues and incidents roiling around them, they are fortunate to be in the company and under the protection of adults who cut their teeth on the Civil Rights era, and can smell discrimination and racism mile away. It was these very individuals, many of them whom were students at the time themselves, that participated in the original civil rights movements throughout the United States, which historically changed the course of action against Black people throughout the world. The unfortunate circumstances at MEC are exacerbated by the fact that our contemporary youth have had little to no direct discriminatory experience (that they are aware of); so the urgency of the matter does not register with many of our youth the way it does with the senior elements in the community.

I am going out on a limb and state unequivocally that the Black community in Crown Heights is facing removal; elimination, attrition, and extinction, unless they take some solid actions now to consolidate their efforts to save their homes and community, as well as Medgar Evers College.

Little to no effort to enforce or encourage Black families in the purchase and renovation of abandoned over priced homes in the area, while importing groups to come in from other areas to supplant our families; the blatant oversight of alerting the community and community board to the recent release of the US Armory into public service by the State without taking into consideration that the community would benefit from having such a facility.

The issues of MEC would not be a long drawn out affair had it been Fordham, City College, Brooklyn College, and some of the other major schools. Medgar Evers College is the only Black college in New York, and it's ours, and we'd better take care of it or be a marker on a slab on a corner of a street in Crown Heights, Bed Stuy and Flatbush, showing that "Black people used to live here!"

Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson

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