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Open Letter to President Schrader and the Kingsborough Community

OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT SCHRADER AND THE KINGSBOROUGH COMMUNITY ON THE NOVEMBER 3, 2022 INCIDENT

 

November 21, 2022

Dear President Schrader,

We write as members of the Kingsborough community and of the Professional Staff Congress to express our deep concern about the events of November 3.

Like many members of the college community, we have been waiting anxiously for over two weeks for more information about what happened at the college on that afternoon. Despite pledges to investigate, the college administration has provided insufficient information to the Kingsborough community and our concerned colleagues across CUNY.

We understand that FERPA regulations and respect for our students’ privacy limit the information that can be made public. However, there are urgent questions the college has a responsibility to address and must answer.

First, we are deeply concerned about reports that a KCC student was arrested on campus by the New York Police Department. The college community needs to know:

  • Were charges ever pressed against any KCC student involved in the incident?

  • What were those charges?

  • Have they been dropped?

  • Furthermore, were disciplinary charges by the college leveled against any KCC student involved in the incident?

  • Have those charges been dropped?

Second, it is urgent that the college community be informed as to why the NYPD was called to campus. The 1992 Memorandum of Understanding between CUNY and the NYPD clearly lays out the terms for NYPD access to CUNY campuses. For non-emergency situations such as this one, the MOU specifies that NYPD personnel will only enter CUNY campuses “upon the request or approval of a CUNY official designated by CUNY as having authority to make such a request.” So we need to know:

  • Who requested and authorized the entry of NYPD officers on campus?

  • Was the person who called the NYPD authorized by CUNY to do so?

  • What, exactly, is the college’s protocol for involving the NYPD in any campus incident? According to the MOU, this must be public information.

Third, we are deeply concerned about allegations that students have been prevented from distributing flyers about the incident on campus. This would be a clear infringement of the principle that colleges should be sites of free expression where debate and discussion of contentious issues are at the heart of academic life. As the American Association of University Professors declared in its 1994 statement on freedom of expression, “On a campus that is free and open, no idea can be banned or forbidden. No viewpoint or message may be deemed so hateful or disturbing that it may not be expressed.”

 

So, once again, a number of questions need to be answered:

  • What exactly is the college’s policy on the distribution of flyers by a student group and is this policy in conformity with the spirit of freedom of expression in public educational spaces?

  • Were Public Safety officers or others told to prevent students from distributing flyers on campus?

  • Why would Public Safety, as has been alleged, play any role in enforcing adherence to a policy on the distribution of flyers?

 

We call upon President Schrader to provide us, as well as the larger college and CUNY community, with detailed answers in writing to these questions.

 

If you would like to add your name to this letter please sign on here.

 

Tony Alessandrini

Professor of English, Kingsborough Community College

Chair, PSC Academic Freedom Committee

 

Emily Schnee

Professor of English, Kingsborough Community College

Community College Officer, PSC Executive Council

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