This week, CUNY’s Pathways to Whatever pulled a bureaucratic knife on the English Department at Queensborough Community College, where faculty members had the wherewithal to stand up for their rights and the rights of their students. They were asked to dilute their composition courses from four credits to three. They refused. In an email from the Vice President of the College, Karen Steele, they were then informed of the following:

We will no longer be able to offer EN-101, 102, or 103 in their current configuration (i.e., four contact hours) as of Fall 2013. Since we don’t have in place courses that will meet the Pathways requirements for the Common Core, we can’t put forward a Fall 2013 schedule of classes that includes English Composition courses. Given that fact, and the resultant dramatic drop in enrollment, we will have to take the following actions:

All searches for full time faculty in the English Department will be cancelled immediately;
The existing EN 101, 102, and 103 will not be included in the common core, and therefore will not be offered in Fall 13;
Beginning March 2013 (our Fall 13 advisement cycle), continuing and new students will be advised to take the common core requirement for I A at another CUNY institution, since the courses will not be available at Queensborough;
Neither EN 101 or 103, nor EN 102 will be submitted to the University in the QCC list of ‘gateway’ courses for the English Major (we must submit the list of gateway major courses by October 1, 2012);
Of necessity, all adjunct faculty in the English department will be sent letters of non-reappointment for Fall 2013;
The reappointment of full time faculty in the English Department will be subject to ability to pay and Fall 13 enrollment in department courses.

Angus Johnston already posted on this over at Student Activism. The PSC and the GC Advocate have also weighed in, as should be expected. The blog you’re now reading was created two years ago as a parasocial space for students in the Ph.D. Program in French at the CUNY Graduate Center to connect and share ideas. I believe that for many of us in the department, this development in the Pathways Foutoir (excuse my French) is unjust, terrifying, and warrants further rebellion. That said, I can only speak for myself: I am convinced that the punishment to be administered to the English Department at Queensborough Community College must be met with loud, sustained outrage and an unswerving commitment to support those on the chopping block.

If you agree, whoever you are, I strongly encourage you to send an email to Karen Steele at ksteele@qcc.cuny.edu expressing your sentiments. If you are short on time, as are many (if not all) of those who will be directly impacted by Pathways if it goes through, here is a template*:

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Dear Dr. Steele,

I am outraged at what occurred between your administration and the English Department at Queensborough Community College this week. I am therefore writing to express my support for the English Department and my anger and frustration at this ugly new development in the implementation of the Pathways Initiative. This turn of events exemplifies the top-down manner in which the Pathways Initiative has been forced on CUNY’s faculty and students. Faculty governance in particular has been systematically ignored and circumvented by a process that has proved itself not only disrespectful toward CUNY’s faculty but toward its students and its educational ideals. As faculty are deeply engaged in the academic lives of CUNY’s students, to marginalize their unique knowledge of students’ strengths, weaknesses, skill-levels, and needs devalues their work, insults their commitment to CUNY, and risks incurring poor decisions that could hurt CUNY’s students. If the faculty in the English Department at Queensborough Community College believe that it would be a serious mistake to reduce composition classes from four credits to three, it is irresponsible not to listen to them, absurd to threaten them, and it would be outright reprehensible to punish them. Please do not follow through on your planned dismantlement of their program. That would be a terrible error and an incredible shame.

Sincerely,

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By Timothy E. Wilson

*If the above template isn’t concise enough for you, here’s a cheekier option: No No No Cat