Chapter E.C. supports Statement of No Confidence in GC Senior Administrators

The Graduate Center Chapter’s Executive Committee Votes to Support the Statement of No Confidence in the President, Provost, and Senior VP of Finance and Administration

The GC PSC Executive Committee formally endorses the Statement of No Confidence in the GC Senior Administration (President, Provost, Senior VP of Finance and Administration) written by faculty and staff at the Graduate Center. President Robin Garrell and senior administration have been negligent in tending to the operational, staffing, and fiscal needs of the institution’s employees. They have presided over an institution characterized by poor working conditions, unfair pay, and exploitative arrangements, and have not repaired these failings in any substantial way. Many Graduate Center workers—including untenured staff, adjuncts, and graduate assistants—feel that their most pressing needs have gone unmet and ignored. They have seen firsthand the consequences of mismanagement, with workers and students going unpaid and staff forced to cover employer expenses out of their own pockets. Senior management has also been uncooperative in Labor Management meetings, showing a poor understanding of the PSC-CUNY contract and a pattern of obstruction. Instead of transparency and collaboration in decision-making, President Garrell’s administration has frequently offered opacity and even contempt.
Although managing an institution of graduate education, the administrative team has done little to address the fact that academic departments in the Graduate Center host some of the lowest-paid graduate students in the country, when adjusting for cost of living. The situation for many graduate assistants has devolved to a dire point; the emergency fund at the Graduate Center, meant to provide support to students facing urgent financial and subsistence needs, has turned away applicants because of high demand. The administration has also failed to create an institutional atmosphere that takes seriously the concerns of international students, many of whom were unable to make a living wage during the early months of the pandemic. Nor has it resolved the perpetual problems with late payments faced by Science Fellows.
The Garrell administration has been remiss in projecting a path toward full funding for all that want it. Approximately one-third of our doctoral students are tuition-only through a two-tiered funding system in which they receive no guaranteed health insurance, compensation or union membership; they must cobble together funding on a semester by semester basis through adjunct positions and contingent fellowships, while still expected to be full-time doctoral students and make timely progress towards their degree.​​ Despite a pot of money specifically designated in the last PSC-CUNY contract to fund health benefits for all students, senior management has failed to cooperate with the GC union chapter in designing and implementing such a system.
Rather than accept responsibility for such conditions, top management has claimed that it lacks agency within the overall CUNY system, passing the buck to other entities and abandoning their obligations as leaders of a public institution of graduate education. In one meeting with graduate assistants who raised concerns about unlivable wages, President Garrell suggested that they vote for better state political candidates and ask friends and family to make small monetary donations to the Graduate Center. This is an unacceptable response that attempts to absolve senior management of basic obligations to the workers of this institution.
We join the writers of the statement in calling for a Graduate Center where senior management works in good faith in the interest of the public university and the employees that make it run.
The PSC GC Executive Committee

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