On Tuesday, September 29, 2015 CUNY administrators were exposed as having lied once more at a workshop on Title IX hosted by Hunter College’s Student Government. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded activity–primarily education. Title IX violation investigation are often brought upon schools that are alleged to have mishandled sexual assault, harassment, or any other type of sexual misconduct.
The administration officials sat on a panel for the workshop that was described by the hosts as an “Open Discussion with Students.” Student leaders from all of Hunter College’s student clubs were invited to join the discussion and most of Hunter’s student clubs were represented by the attendees to the workshop. Youth and student organizers from Students Without Borders at Hunter College, Students for Justice in Palestine at Hunter College, and the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee attended the workshop to unite with the progressive and revolutionary minded youth and student leaders on campus and help expose any inconsistencies in the claims CUNY administration made. Sabrina Rubin (Counseling and Wellness Services,) Joseph Foelsch (Public Safety Director,) John Rose (Title IX Coordinator and Dean for Diversity,) Colleen Barry (Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Director of Student Conduct,) were the CUNY Hunter administrator panelists.
Throughout the course of the workshop, the CUNY administrators on the panel repeatedly reassured the attendees that they work for the interests of the students and that any issues or concerns that students may have should be brought to them to resolve. One dean, who was not on the panel even briefly intervened to further vouch for their claims that CUNY administration was interested in genuinely helping the students with any issues they may have–revealing the desperation with which CUNY administrators attempt to mask the fact that they are actually not accountable to either the students or the workers of CUNY but instead serve the interests of the Board of Trustees.
Once the panelists had finished with their claims, the floor was opened up for questions or statements from the numerous student leaders of various clubs. Some of the student leaders raised concerns over what they deemed as the overly bureaucratic way with which CUNY administration deals with issues on campus. Other student leaders such as representatives from the Hunter College radio show and the African Students’ Union questioned the sincerity of the administrators in handling issues on campus such as sexual misconduct and harassment. At least one student, not representing a currently chartered club, questioned the way in which free speech and assembly rights were strictly curbed by administration. The student leaders, with their sharp questioning of the sincerity of CUNY administrators highlighted the lies that CUNY administration had just told regarding their supposed genuine efforts to ensure a “safe and welcoming learning environment.”
Finally, a representative from Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee and Students Without Borders at Hunter College was chosen to ask a question. The student began by first acknowledging the importance of the panel discussion on Title IX especially since Hunter College had been under investigation for an alleged Title IX violation since May, 2014–a fact that the CUNY admins on the panel had conveniently omitted. Before continuing with his question, the student was interrupted by Hunter College Title IX coordinator Dean John Rose who took the time to clarify that Hunter College was “merely,” under investigation and that the charges were not yet proven. This was an unnecessary clarification as the student had indeed mentioned that Hunter was being investigated. This defensive reflex from Dean Rose and the omission of the fact of the Title IX investigation seems to hint at CUNY administration’s insincerity and untrustworthiness in handling such important issues on campus such as sexual misconduct.
Furthermore, when the student finally got to his question, he highlighted the fact that Public Safety director Joseph Foelsch (a former FBI agent,) made it a point to emphasize that CUNY Public Safety is a separate entity from the New York Police Department and that Public Safety exists to ensure the safety of CUNY students. This is important as the student then asked Foelsch what the point of mentioning this distinction was when CUNY Public Safety has historically capitulated to the NYPD. Letting the record speak for itself, the student mentioned the way CUNY Public Safety stood by in compliance as NYPD officers beat and arrested student activists who were protesting the arrival of war criminal David Petraeus as a CUNY professor and even more recently repressing and barring students with the help of the NYPD from their right to protest injustices on campus throughout CUNY. In response to this, Foelsch attempted to feign innocence by stating that he was not a part of CUNY Public Safety at the time of the arrests over Petraeus’s arrival (2013,) and that the incidents took place on another campus that was not Hunter College. It seems that Mr. Foelsch should be reminded that CUNY Public Safety is actually a centralized body that “serves and protects,” CUNY campuses generally.
Moreover when questioned as to why the Hunter College division of CUNY Public Safety had been found to be stockpiling hollow-point bullets (according to a Freedom of Information Request report linked here: ( http://www.villagevoice.com/news/big-guns-on-campus-6421721 ) Mr. Foelsch responded by claiming that he was unaware of any hollow-point bullets on campus. Hollow-point bullets are a particularly damaging piece of ammunition that even the NYPD are prohibited from carrying and using. The student pressed further by remarking that the fact that the Director of Public Safety was unaware of such weapons was alarming to which Foelsch backpedalled and responded by saying, “I know what ammunition we have, it’s all locked up in my office.” This begs the question: for whom is Public Safety stockpiling weapons? For unarmed student protestors? For professors and cafeteria workers who might mobilize for more livable wages and fairer contracts?
After this last question, the hosts of the “open discussion,” closed the floor abruptly and a number of student leaders approached the representatives from Students Without Borders to express support and agreement with the questions that the student from SWB posed. This clearly shows that the youth and student leaders of CUNY are more and more uncovering for themselves the fact that neither CUNY Public Safety nor the rest of CUNY Administration were built in the service of the students, faculty, and workers of CUNY as the record has repeatedly shown that they serve the interests of the Board of Trustees and the ruling capitalist class whose interests in running CUNY lie in the reproduction of pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist, heteropatriarchal, and White-supremacist ideology.
It is for this reason that we as Youth and Student organizers need to fight for a liberated CUNY. We need to struggle for a CUNY that students, teachers, and workers from oppressed communities control. We need a CUNY without the Board of Trustees who–through their administration officials and “Public Safety,” running dogs repeatedly lie to us and systematically exclude working class, Black and Brown, LGBTIQ, working women, and most oppressed peoples from full participation on our campuses. We need a CUNY that is liberated by us, run by us, and oriented towards serving the interests of the oppressed and exploited Masses of the People. We need a CUNY that is honest and open to our people and is no longer always lying to us.