My Statement on the Draft CUNY Policy on "Expressive Conduct"


Here below is my "STATEMENT ON
Universities by definition ought to be democratic spaces where respect for democracy and the principles it encompasses must apply to processes, procedures and activities, particularly those presented as protecting freedom of speech and assembly.  Unfortunately, the policy under consideration is troubling in all respects.

The procedures, process and activities that produced this policy show clear evidence of what WW Schattschneider described as the “mobilization of bias.”  Applied to the CUNY SITUATION, those in power have determined the agenda, selected those to whom the right to participate was conferred, decided on the timing of allowing the rest of us know about proposed changes, as well as the extent of our participation (which has been highly circumscribed).

This policy also bears no resemblance to the Chicago rule referenced by an earlier speaker.  Further, it is regrettable that the efforts to discuss this policy even in the little time we had before this hearing were not good examples of openness to democratic discourse.  The CUNY Board of Trustees must decide if they want to support or impede freedom of speech and assembly.  They ought to consider whether or not this is the best we can do.

As a member of the CUNY community, I say that we do not need nannies to impose order on us while at the same time telling us that our democratic rights are being protected.  This policy gives too much discretionary power to limit freedom of speech and assembly to the administrators on each campus.

We are now in the summer when majority of the members of the university community have become exhausted from the academic year’s responsibilities, many have to work long hours to secure the funds to pay ever growing fees; many have gone to do necessary research and writing.  Given this troubling background to the policy, I request postponement of the final decision and Board of Trustees vote on this policy to give the CUNY community full opportunity to discuss, debate, and make meaningful input into this policy.  Not to do this would be a subversion of democracy.

Thank you

Mojúbàolú Olufúnké Okome
Professor of Political Science, African and Women's Studies
Leonard and Claire Tow Professor, 2015/2016
Brooklyn College, CUNY

The statement on behalf of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) of CUNY by its President, Professor Barbara Bowen, go here

The recording of the full CUNY BOT hearing for Monday, April 20 is found here

The CUNY Draft Policy on Expressive Conduct" is found here


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