Last month, the English Department faculty at Queensborough Community College (QCC), which is part of the CUNY system where I teach, voted to recall their chair and elect a new chair. (At CUNY, chairs are elected.)The vote was a landslide, as these things go: over 20 out of 30 full-time faculty were in favor of the recall and the new chair. On Tuesday, the president of QCC decided to overturn the faculty’s decision. Among the reasons the president gave for her decision was that the department was divided (apparently, only Soviet-style election results in which 100 percent of the people vote for the Party are acceptable) and needed time to heal (by having its decisions overturned). The president also reappointed the old chair to handle department business. Let the healing begin.
It seems fitting that all this thuggery was set in a literature department. As soon as I heard about it, I thought of Bertolt Brecht’s famous poem “The Solution,” which he wrote in the wake of the failed 1953 uprising of East German workers against the government.
After the uprising of the 17th of June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
Update (November 9, 8:15 am)
You can sign a petition asking the president to reconsider her decision. Please do so.
Update (November 12, 3:15 pm)
More information on the crisis here.