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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Student Disorientation Manual

On April 25th, Lets Take It To The Hill!
On April 25th, Let’s Take It To The Hill!

The College of Public and Community Service was once a national and international icon for what public education could be at its best. Founded in 1974, CPCS has been a part of UMass Boston nearly from its inception. It has been progressive, experimental, and successful by any metric. It has helped educate generations of adult learners, including myself, that many other institutions of higher learning-public or private-would not ever consider taking a risk on. Not surprising, then, that it has traditionally been the most diverse college in the Massachusetts higher education system. Unfortunately, thanks to a sad ongoing display of petty internal politicking by a number of high ranking UMB officials over the last year, CPCS may soon be entirely destroyed.

More details will doubtless follow as the semester progresses, but for now students-particularly new students-should be aware of the following. Last year, a UMB search committee led by Provost Paul Fonteyn hired a new Dean, Adenrele Awotona, to head CPCS.

Within six months, the vast majority of CPCS faculty, staff, and active students were organizing for Awotona’s removal. Two votes of “no confidence” (a very big deal in academia) were taken by CPCS faculty and staff against him. CPCS students petitioned and initiated a number of actions against Awotona’s policies-after forming a student government (the CPCS Student Union) for the first time in the college’s history. The UMB Undergraduate Student Senate passed a resolution in support of the CPCS community. Over a dozen respected Boston community organizations organized a pressure campaign to get UMB to do the right thing and replace Awotona. Politicians and union leaders also threw their weight behind the CPCS community.

Despite these protests, Awotona’s original one-year contract was recently renewed by UMB leadership. And bad bad things are now happening to many who opposed him-resulting in key CPCS programs being crippled, and what currently looks like a drop in CPCS enrollment. The week before classes started, with virtually no notice, Awotona fired 11 non-tenure track faculty-1/3 of the CPCS faculty-wiping out more than 40 percent of all class sections for the Fall semester in one fell swoop. A number of these classes already had full enrollment. The result of these precipitous cuts has been to reduce the CPCS writing program into non-existence, to wipe out the digital literacy program, to eliminate all Fall offerings for the Community Media and Technology major, and to attempt to force the remaining tenured and tenure track faculty to cover the huge outstanding course and advising load now heaped on them by the administration. Many of these professors are literally being ordered to teach classes outside their expertise. Students are showing up for classes only to find them inexplicably cancelled.

On the heels of the near-elimination of CPCS Student Services over the course of the last few months, CPCS students are facing a truly dire situation this semester. A situation that any ratwional university administration would have gone to great lengths to avoid. Yet the administration says all of this is somehow to help students. Right.

Much more information can be found at www.savecpcs.org, but keep reading these pages in the weeks to come for developments as they happen. The fight for CPCS is by no means over yet, and the CPCS community can use help from any quarter at this point.

Jason is a student in the Public Policy PhD Program, and member of the UMB Tactical Media Group. E-mail him at [email protected].