The emergence of the Coalition of Progressive Faculty caused quite a commotion at the Aug. 29 Board of Trustees meeting.

The CPF of eight to ten members — some of who are also members of the Faculty Association — formed in response to the Aug. 1 emergency Faculty Association meeting.

According to Josh Fleming, a member of the CPF, the group formed due to growing dissatisfaction with how faculty union meetings were being conducted: the meetings lacked transparency, left questions unanswered, and the opinions of other faculty members were not taken into account, he said.

A week after the Board meeting at which the CPF aired its grievances, the FA leadership team circulated a peremptory letter via email.

“The Faculty Association is shocked and angered at the events that transpired at last Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting. President Rocha proposed and the Board moved to eliminate the Winter Session entirely. Trustee Brown voted ‘no’ and Trustee Wah abstained.  Trustee Thompson had sought a delay, but then voted with the other Board members (Baum, Mann, Martin, and Fellow) to cut the Winter Session,” the letter read.

“The FA had written a letter to the Board outlining the necessity of collegial process and contractual integrity. Our letter was ignored.  Faculty and students were ignored.  We fear that we are in a new era of rule by edict.”

The CPF deemed this letter a passionate and compelling statement. “However, as with other decisions the FA has made, we feel that an action such as the lawsuit the FA is planning should have been discussed with the campus faculty first before being presented,” Fleming said via email.

At present, the CPF is circulating a petition that “calls for [collegiality] and a transparent, democratic, effective faculty union. It is [the coalition’s] sincere hope that this petition will lead to a stronger, more effective faculty union that truly represents the concerns and priorities of its members.”

Faculty Association Secretary Paul Jarrell had signed the petition. Upon the coalition’s presentation at the Board meeting and subsequent public frenzy, however, Jarrell asked that his signature be taken off.

“Those are my colleagues — I respect them, but I don’t respect what they did,” Jarrell said.

According to Fleming, the presentation of the coalition’s petition was a result of unfortunate timing.

Board of Trustees President Geoffrey Baum misread the coalition’s comment card, thinking that it said “faculty reorganization,” and was therefore related to the agenda item on administrative restructuring.

“When I realized the error after having recognized all the other speakers, we had time left, so I offered the individual the chance to address the board. I did not expect the audience to react with such hostility,” Baum said via email.

Coalition member Katie Rodriguez described the outbursts as disheartening, awful and truly horrendous.

The coalition expressed regret after witnessing the disorder that occurred. However, the coalition continues to stand by its decision to make a presentation.

“There are so many people that feel the same way that I do, [but are] not ready to put themselves in the firing line,” Rodriguez said. “I am not going to be intimidated, and this is something I feel strongly about. It’s time to stand up for what I believe in: a democratic process, transparency, and an environment in which we can discuss issues and find solutions, and not always be reactionary about everything.”

This misunderstanding has caused coalition members to be deemed as “anti-union,” according to Fleming.

“We are hoping that despite the tension that came from our speech, it can spurn [productive] dialogue between the CPF and FA officers, or a larger conversation,” said Fleming. “We believe that there is a large number of faculty that believe that these issues are a problem and are leading us to be counterproductive, if not stagnating, and making us less progressive as we could be.”

The coalition continues to face adversity as members like Rodriguez receive reprimanding emails, as well as angry mail.

Despite the opposition, Rodriguez remains optimistic. “For every piece of hate mail, I am having four or five people coming up to me to say thank you,” she said.

After the release of the FA letter, Fleming also adopted an optimistic viewpoint.

“We are happy to see the FA adopting some of the language found in the CPF’s petition. In the letter to the Board of Trustees sent on 8/28 the FA states they’re committed to consensus building, full disclosure, and collegial ethics. We look forward to them embracing those values in the future.”

2 Replies to “Divisiveness emerging amongst faculty”

  1. What some of these instructors need to do is stop brainwashing their students into thinking something bad is happening just because winter intersession’s been slashed off. I don’t appreciate my class time being interrupted by political talk. Why are they instructing their students to protest something that will secure classes for ALL students?

    Oh, that’s right. A hidden agenda. 🙂

    Now that the union’s crumbling apart, who can the students trust now?

    1. The student government at PCC is excellent. You should trust them to share information and look out for your interests. You should also get involved with them.

      You have every right to be upset when your class time is taken up with other activities. I encourage you to voice your concerns with the division dean.

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