[Update] Where is the video, CUNY?

[Updated 12/1/2011 @ 3:09pm] Faculty have also started writing in asking for the video of the Nov 21 board hearing (second letter below). Is this the beginning of a campaign?

After noticing that CUNY posted the Nov 28 Board Meeting video but not the Nov 21 Board Hearing video (the event at which police force was used against students and faculty), a graduate student sent this letter to CUNY TV tonight, asking for the full hearing to be posted in the public interest.

Letter in Response to What Appears To Be Blatant Censorship by CUNY TV

November 30, 2011

Dear CUNY TV; CUNY students, staff, and faculty; and the many people of New York City whom I imagine CUNY TV is supposed to serve:

I am a graduate student in Anthropology at The CUNY Graduate Center, an instructor at Hunter College, and a member of the public which comprises the city of New York. I am inquiring into why the CUNY Board of Trustees Hearing of November 21st is not posted on the CUNY TV site.

Having been to this “Public” Hearing, I am well aware that it was substantially different from the sanitized and false manner in which it was portrayed in official CUNY accounts. Even the most impartial observer would have described it as a series of perpetual and rowdy disruptions, which included: collective outcries, tearful and poignant individual testimonies about the brutality of the CUNY’s economic exploitation of its instructors and students, vociferous standing declarations about the Board’s anti-democratic practices, students and faculty being thrown out of the boardroom by security, sometimes by being physically carried out, and a Board member announcing over the microphone and with audible disgust in her voice (well-documented on youtube videos) that a student be “eliminated.”

Perhaps, as a “noncommercial cable television station,” you are not required to post these Hearings. However, requirements aside, considering the important historical moment at which CUNY finds itself and considering the widely publicized and documented violence upon students – many of whom were denied access to this Hearing though the boardroom was not at capacity –that evening in the lobby, this omission reeks of something unethical and amounts to censorship of the public’s voice. Besides, let’s face it, it would make for far more interesting viewing than just about anything else you’ve recorded in that boardroom.

I ask that CUNY TV post its recording of the November 21st hearing in full and as it occurred with all its disruptions. By doing the right thing, you will also be staking out a place of relevance and legitimacy in the eyes of the CUNY public.

Any of the 200 plus people I have cc’d on this letter may feel free to use whatever parts of it they want to request CUNY TV to do the same.

Faculty have also joined the call for release of the video.

To whom it may concern,

I am an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biology at Medgar Evers College, a Visiting Scientist at the Sackler Genomics Laboratory at the American Museum of Natural History and an alumnus of the CUNY Graduate Center. In all of these academic roles, I have constantly been reminded of the importance of the free flow of information and access to ideas, which, in fact, is your specific function. This free flow of information is necessary for the academic community and its dependencies to evaluate our world and to provide the essential depth of understanding necessary to formulate adequate responses to the challenges that face us all.

Thus I find it blatantly hypocritical — an anathema to CUNY’s mission — that you would stoop to crass censorship, when it comes to CUNY governance. I refer to the rather glaring absence of the video of the Board of Trustees hearing of November 21 from your posted archives. The omission is particularly in that you skipped it and chose to post the sanitized, non-controversial (and almost empty) November 28 meeting.

I was at the November 21 hearing to testify. The meeting was marked by majority — often vociferous — protest against the undemocratic nature of the hearing, the items being proposed for vote and the police violence against students protesting downstairs — and denied access to this “public” hearing. Most of those testifying were also dissenting voices. Why are you shutting out those voices? What are you afraid of? As a member of that community for which you claim to be a source of information, I demand that you post the uncensored video of the November 21 Board of Trustees hearing.


Michael Friedman, Ph.D.

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Biology Department
Medgar Evers College

In addition to speakers opposing tuition increases and cutting adjunct health care, that was also the meeting at which a student in the front row held this sign describing the events happening downstairs. Her description of the meeting is below.

It was extraordinary to see Chancellor Goldstein sit there and (aside from occasional whispered consultations with his staff, and one brief exit) do absolutely nothing, while the students of his university were being beaten in the same building.

He made no comment or statement, let alone did he decry what was happening. I sat in the front row of the meeting holding this sign for about an hour and a half–and I clearly saw him take off his glasses to read it. He offered no response at all.