posted 2012-04-07 16:30:29

Faculty Union Decries Security Presence at teach-ins

Kimberly Devi Milner--Associate News Editor

Disturbed by what it perceived as a pattern of unusual security presence at its teach-ins, Hunter College’s chapter of the Professional Staff Congress released a resolution on March 7 condemning what it called an ongoing effort at Hunter and other CUNY campuses “to chill free speech and intimidate faculty.”

Hunter’s PSC chapter alleged in a resolution that security officers had been posted both inside and outside its Nov. 17 teach-in, and that at least two security personnel were stationed in the hallway outside its March 1 teach-in -- where roughly 40 students attended discussions on issues such as adjunct rights, the

development of aggressive campus security and reduced funding to CUNY. An adjunct assistant professor who spoke to The Envoy on the condition of anonymity said security officers also showed up unannounced at parallel teach-ins March 1.

Teach-ins and walkouts occurred in at least four CUNY colleges and the CUNY graduate center on March 1. That same day Hunter College implemented a stricter visitation policy that requires visitors to prove the validity of their CUNY ID card.

“If I were a student and I was going to walk into a teach-in where we were going to be talking about security at CUNY,” said Hunter PSC chapter chair, Professor Tami Gold, “I would be affected by the presence of security.”

“Teach-ins really started back in the 60s as [a] free speech movement at major universities,” said Urban Affairs and Planning Professor Tom Angotti, who moderated the PSC teach-in Dec. 7. “Students and faculty got together to talk about major political issues like the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement and ideas that people felt were not being dealt with in regular curriculum.”

In response to the PSC’s resolution, Director of Marketing and Communications at Hunter Meredith Halpern, wrote in an email that Hunter College encouraged the free exchange of ideas, but that “whenever there is a large gathering on campus, it is [Hunter College’s] practice to have officers present.”