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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

March 26, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Contingent faculty responds to Public Safety letter

Following our peaceful and legal demonstrations on Monday and Friday of last week, at which IC Contingent Faculty gathered together with student allies, tenured faculty, and community members to protest the refusal of the administration to settle a fair contract with the union, we received a sharply worded letter from William Kerry, IC’s Chief of Police, threatening “a variety of actions up to and including legal proceedings” should the union attempt to picket or demonstrate peacefully within college property. To justify this blatant abrogation of the right of IC faculty and students to free speech and assembly in their own workplace, Chief Kerry accuses the participants of the demonstrations last week of having “stopped traffic” and “entered the college.”

We challenge Chief Kerry to produce evidence that traffic was stopped blecause the entrance to the college was blocked by protesters. This will be difficult to do, because it did not happen. That the IC administration feels compelled to outsource its campaign of disinformation to the head of campus security is distressing, but not surprising to those of us who understand the shell game the administration has been playing with the truth since the beginning of negotiations.

As for us entering the college at which we teach to express our frustration with the treatment of contingent faculty: we refuse to accept that we do not have a right to do so. Is this what freedom of speech and the right to organize have come to at Ithaca College in the early days of the Trump era?

We challenge the Ithaca College administration to block its own faculty and student allies from entering their own institution for the purpose of a rally. We challenge the Ithaca College administration to take away our rights to free speech and assembly in view of the entire campus, the entire city, and — courtesy of social media — the whole country. We dare the Ithaca College administration to inflict damage on their own brand by punishing students and faculty who express, through peaceful protest, their disagreement with the administration’s policies.

It is clear that we are facing an administration that is committed to a Walmart-style corporate workplace culture in which top-down bureaucratic directives trump the rights of faculty to organize for better working conditions, and in which the rights and interests of both students and faculty come second to the priorities of administrators.

We are unimpressed by the administration’s crude efforts to silence us, and ask them to henceforth refrain from attempting to intimidate and harass contingent faculty members who are legally organizing to improve working conditions on this campus.

The Ithaca College Contingent Faculty Bargaining Committee