posted 2012-11-21 22:47:29

Hunter College Senate Backs QCC in Rejecting Pathways

Pathways continues to draw controversy    

Carla Sinclair

Staff Writer

Hunter College’s Faculty Senate has re- voiced its criticism of Pathways — a CUNY Central mandate aimed at overhauling the general education requirements at every college in the CUNY system.

On Nov. 14 the Hunter Senate passed its resolution expressing solidarity with the Queensborough Community College English department, which was threatened by the college’s administration earlier in the semester when it refused to restructure its curriculum to accommodate Pathways.

“The atmosphere of intimidation that now surrounds faculty votes on Pathways curriculum is antithetical to a university,” the Hunter Senate wrote in its resolution.

On Sept. 13 the QCC English chair was sent an email by Vice President Karen Steele that threatened the department’s reorganization, and the possibility of unemployment if the faculty did not vote for Pathways. The threats were quelled by QCC President Diane B. Call, who called Steele’s statements a “worst case scenario” in an email on Sept. 16.

The Hunter College Senate had attempted to pass a similar resolution on Oct. 3 prior, but failed to meet quorum.

However, the sentiment that faculty employment is linked to their support of the Pathways curriculum, which introduces a university-wide common core still lingers, and has done little to reduce animosity between college faculty and administration.
Since its initial introduction on June 27, 2011, many faculty members in Hunter College have resisted the implementation of the Pathways resolution. Faculty and students from every CUNY college in the University have attended town halls. On March 20 three higher ranking University Faculty Senators brought a lawsuit against the board of trustees claiming the board violated CUNY bylaw by excluding the University Faculty Senate in the creation of Pathways.

On April 30 the University Faculty Senate delivered a petition signed by 5,676 faculty, staff and retirees demanding the repeal of the unpopular resolution.

CUNY officials said the Pathways initiative — which has been in its agenda for decades — will help students transfer between CUNY schools, and ensure that they do not lose credits.

“It’s important to come out of college with certain skills and the board is obviously trying,” said Stephanie Rabins, a part time Media instructor at Hunter College. “But I would hope that the administration would trust the teachers with knowing what’s best for their students, and give them the power to make the curriculum.”

CUNY central administrators hope Pathways will come into effect for matriculating students in Fall 2013. Many faculty members, however remain highly critical of the deadlines they are given to present new curriculum. The time allotted to make the target date, they say, do not provide adequate conditions for real conversation.
After drafts of the new curricula are submitted faculty-appointed subcommittees work on the structure. However, many of the teachers on these subcommittees claim they are not satisfied with the work they’re doing.

“The question they are asking is this,” Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen told the Clarion. “This may be the best that is possible under Pathways – but is it good enough for CUNY students?”

Pathways will introduce a 30-credit common core throughout CUNY colleges, but give senior colleges the option of requiring 12 additional credits of GERs. Students attending community and senior colleges will be required to fulfill

a 12-credit “required core”-- requiring students accumulate six English credits, and three credits in math and Life and Physical Sciences-- and an 18-credit “flexible core” consisting of six liberal art, some of which must promote the multi-cultural studies.

The new reorganization will force required lab sciences into the allotted three-hour, and three-credit mold, which would not be enough time for the lab component of the classes.

Some administration-suggested solutions include taking the lab separately, but that brings about new issues.

“Having science without a lab doesn’t make sense to me,” Camille Sirotnikov, 18, a freshman and proposed science major. “You get to immediately apply what you’re learning in real life. How else are you supposed to learn?”
The CUNY-wide general education requirement will not demand students satisfy language proficiency. Senior colleges, however, can use their 12-credit “College Option” to mandate up to four semesters of language study, which Hunter College currently requires, and intends to continue.

However, in letter drafted to the CUNY board of trustees on behalf of Hunter College’s Romance Language department on June 17, graduate faculty wrote “It is a sad irony that at a time when European as well as Asian countries are urgently devising pathways to introduce languages as early as possible to their school children, we ... are going to reduce language studies to a luxury too expensive or time costly for our students to afford. Graduates of CUNY will be blissfully monolingual, but singularly unprepared for the challenges of a global world.”

On Aug. 1 CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress and the University Faculty Senate filed a new lawsuits against the Board of Trustees, arguing it violates New York’s Open Meeting Laws by involving CUNY college faculty senates in Pathways continued development.