Administrators walk out of senate meeting amidst growing tensions

Administrators+walk+out+of+senate+meeting+amidst+growing+tensions

Ryan P. Cruz, News Editor

Two City College administrators walked out of this week’s Academic Senate meeting Wednesday as growing tensions between faculty and administration reached new levels. 

The meeting was called primarily for the senate to develop a response to the results of a 2019 employee campus climate survey.

“We have a racism issue on campus,” said Annette Cordero, an English instructor. “We keep trying to dance around it, saying it’s a fiscal problem or an enrollment problem. We haven’t gotten to this point of low morale because of enrollment.”

The purpose of the survey—which included questions surrounding equity, diversity and inclusion—was to use the findings to create solutions that would repair problems between campus employees and administrative executives.

“People are feeling disenfranchised and not listened to,” said Bronwen Moore, a math instructor. “Faculty voice is being diminished every year.”

According to the survey analysis, “many employees don’t trust and have little confidence in some senior leaders.” 

Executive Vice President Pamela Ralston, an ex-officio member of the senate, was absent, but EOPS Director Paloma Arnold and Executive Director of Public Affairs Luz Reyes-Martin were in attendance at the start of the meeting.

Academic Senate President-Elect Raeanne Napoleon said that although all meetings have an open-door policy, an honest discussion would be difficult with administrators in the room, especially since the survey’s results centered around employees’ distrust of “higher-ups.”

After several senators echoed Napoleon’s concerns, Arnold and Reyes-Martin walked out of the room about 15 minutes into the meeting.

The results of the survey and subsequent focus groups were presented by the meeting’s facilitator Victoria Rightmire, director of Save A Valuable Employee, City College’s employee assistance program.

“I’m fully aware that you’ve been through a lot,” Rightmire said. “Conversation is opening up, but this is only the beginning.”

According to over 580 pages of comments from focus groups, employees saw “significant diversity, equity and inclusion shortfalls” and a campus climate that is “highly polarized and  unhealthy.”

Many of the survey’s most telling responses revolve around City College’s inability to respond to highly-charged, race-related issues over the past two years.

“Faculty efforts are being systematically dismantled and reintroduced with administrative leadership,” Moore said.

Moving forward, the senate plans to invite Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami to hear their concerns, in hopes of starting the work of healing the campus climate. 

After airing their grievances, faculty members are optimistic about the future—and it seems that their shared struggles have galvanized them as a group ready to make some real changes. 

“We need to step up to this responsibility,” Cordero said.