Sunday, February 5, 2012
Dear Montclair State Board Members,
Here is a common picture that occurs often in my late classes: It is 10pm. I pack my things from my long day of classes that involve my book bag, guitar, and purse. As I do so, the rest of the graduates bustle to get out in a hurry to go to their warm houses in the winter’s night to do some paper writing. I take my belongings and walk from Chaplin Hall to make my way to Car Parc Diem, to which this is the only parking space I can afford. As I make my way through the poorly lit University, I notice a figure that has been loitering. This male body has been loitering for quite some time. I take heed and maintain in an alert state. I see a friend walking along the same path and ask him to walk me to my car. This figure leaves.
This is a common occurrence for many women on campus. In fact these common occurrences are never reported due to the fact many young women have the mentality that they may be paranoid or overreacting. This mentality has proved costly. In fact these unreported crimes and suspicious activity has been reviewed in a 2002 CBS news show. But what is even more alarming is this statistic: 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. This statistic is provided by RAINN, an organization against sexual violence. And with the recent reports in the Montclarion of these assaults as well as some emails, I am wondering how much is being done to assure the safety of the student body beyond alerting of sexual assaults.
I am a bit concerned as to why this state institution has not provided adequate education and safety measures to the student body on issues of rape and sexual abuse. I have not received any emails facing this issue head on to the student body, specifically new incoming freshman or new professionals learning how to becoming respectable and educated adults within society. It is often assumed that a place of continuous education and improvement of professional skills would be a safe haven for students to be able to travel around campus. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I believe that it is an irresponsible decision to not take into consideration the recent events at the Board of Trusties meeting and not taking swift action on evaluating the current status of safety procedures and tools. Waiting for a much more severe attack to occur does not do well to Montclair’s reputation and to the well-being of the entire student body who expects to pay for high quality of instruction to extend the potentially great legacy that this University could possibly offer.
Please consider the grievances of the students as well as the possible many unheard voices of the victims of these malicious sexual assaults and rapes. Do not shame them into thinking that there is nothing that they can do. Instead, show them the resources that are their beyond orientation, take action in improving the quality of safety around campus, and embrace the mentality of giving these women and men a voice of a survivor, rather than to victimize them into passive silence.
It is mentioned in Montclair’s mission statement that “The University will ensure that all students develop an understanding of global issues and of their responsibilities as citizens of the world.” Show by example how to be responsible with issues foreign or domestic such as this. Please consider taking the appropriate measures on educating the students on rapes and sexual abuse of all kinds to uphold the high standards that Montclair State University could offer to the current student body and the future incoming students.
January 26, 2012
Dear Montclair State Board Members,
I attended the last board meeting of the Fall ’11 semester in December, and it bothered me that many pressing issues on campus were ignored while minor events were praised. I believe it is a good thing to congratulate our Men’s Soccer Team’s success last semester, but it is imperative that pressing issues concerning the safety of Montclair State University students be resolved as soon as possible. It is unacceptable for the minimal response of the administration to this campus-wide problem. The “Community Watch Program” is not going to prevent further violence on campus. The Board of Trustees must recognize sexual assault as a major safety concern, and preventative measures must be issued to combat the increase in incidents. With over two dozen incidents of sexual assault in the Fall ’11 semester actions must be taken to guarantee the safety of MSU students.
Some preventative measures that can be taken by Montclair State include:
1) Rape Education as part of the Freshmen Seminar Class
2) More Blue Light Emergency phones around campus
3) An Outreach Program for victims of Sexual Assault
Please take this letter into consideration during the next Board of Trustees meeting.
Thank you for your time,
February 2, 2012
Statement to the Board Of Trustees
Given by Rich Wolfson, President of AFT Local 1904
Tonight I would like to address the elephant in the room, or, actually, the elephant in
the State. It’s the Governor’s proposal to restructure New Jersey’s University system,
breaking up the state’s medical University and creating a major new public research
campus at Rowan.
You’ve all been appointed by this governor or one of his predecessors. You have
access, and may find yourself in a forum where you have input. So, I’d like you to
consider my perspective, which in some cases is consistent with the Montclair State
University administrations, and in others, diametrically opposed.
The first thing that came to mind when I heard the proposal was something the great
philosopher Ross Perot said during his White House run in 1992, about the “giant
sucking sound” of jobs heading south. I’m hearing that sound now.
The previous two times State University restructuring was on the table, it stalled
because of the costs. This time is different, as it not only has the full support of
Governor Christie, but from a political perspective, it’s in the best interests of his
good friend George Norcross so just like health care reform, it is going to happen this
If the State were really interested in higher education, there would be a proposal to
reorganize of the entire system based on a proven model like the University of
California, and not leave Montclair to fend for itself. But that would not fit their
political agenda. I believe we agree on this issue.
Make no mistake: the costs connected to this restructuring will be staggering. One
estimate places it at $1.3 billion. That money can come only from our already meager,
and ever-dwindling, State allocations. Of course, it can’t all come from us here at
Montclair. The rest will come from the remaining seven State colleges and universities
in our sector, state workers, and our students, who will endure double-digit tuition
inflation as this process unfolds.
Another issue is that current talks seem to suggest that Rowan will not only eclipse us
here at Montclair State University, as it becomes the State’s second “public
comprehensive research University,” but that it will compete with us for faculty and,
more importantly, grant and research dollars. While competition is good, it seems
that Rowan will be the favored child, also getting the facilities necessary to attract
those dollars and staff, while our proposed Science Building and School of Business
sites remain parking lots.
Of course, this reorganization may mean that we get the State Higher Education bond
issue that we desperately need. But if the bulk of the bond issue resources go to
Rowan and Rutgers, and much of the rest goes to UMDNJ, the real issue is whether
there will be enough left for our for new construction and the considerable deferred
maintenance that continues to pile up. We don’t have a politically connected
advocate like George Norcross or Chris Christie, or even one like Ray Lesniack at Kean.
We have you and we need you to help make sure that Montclair is protected in the
Now, an area where we may disagree. You are undoubtedly aware that we are in the
midst of difficult, protracted contract negotiations. Professional Staff, and Librarians
and Faculty have been without a contract since July 1 and there are some significant
differences in these negotiations from those in the past. The non-economic work-rule-
related proposals from the presidents limiting grievance rights and due process for
Professional Staff are unprecedented. I say “the presidents,” because I sincerely
doubt that the Governor cares one bit about the non-economic work rules of
University personnel other than to highlight his desire to show the country that, as a
good Republican, his agenda is to “break the unions” and disenfranchise workers any
way he can.
Locally, our administration has chosen to suspend all contractual programs that are
currently under negotiations, including sabbatical leaves and career development.
The State wants to take them out of the Master Agreement and put them on the table
for local negotiations. In my experience, that can take years, and it is particularly
galling to our members to see their sabbaticals suspended, while sabbaticals for
administrators are no problem. Other institutions have chosen not to suspend these
programs. The decision to suspend these programs at Montclair was a local one.
Dr. Cole and the President’s Council have repeatedly supported the breakup of the
College Council, bringing local bargaining to each campus on issues that have in the
past been state-wide. It is clear to us that this proposed reorganization would renew
the push to make that a reality, as Rowan would clearly want to be like Rutgers, with
complete autonomy. Dr. Cole and the other Presidents who so badly want autonomy
and reduced oversight might just be thrown this bone in an otherwise dismal set of
reorganization circumstances. Clearly our star here at Montclair is dimming, because
otherwise we would be hosting NJN rather than its residing across the river in what
was a bad deal for our students and the citizens of New Jersey and only a good one
for the power brokers that negotiated it.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
February 2, 2012
To the members of SPECTRUMS and the rest of the LGBTQ community at Montclair State University:
MSU Students for a Democratic Society fully condemns the hate speech committed against the LGBTQ community. It is thoughts and words like those found in the student center that perpetuate oppression in the world and prove that equality is far from achieved for the LGBTQ community.
However, unlike the university administration, we are careful not to condemn just the individual that committed such hateful crimes, but more importantly, the society that produces individuals capable of having such thoughts and ideas in their minds.
We therefore issue the following statement of solidarity:
Until our society teaches everyone to be tolerant and accepting,
Until our society changes our heterosexist and homophobic culture and institutions,
Until the LGBTQ community has equal rights and has received justice for ALL crimes committed against members of their community,
Until all beings are treated with love and respect by the institutions that today remain cold and preoccupied with their reputation,
And until these institutions are concerned about the lives and safety of all the communities that make up its foundations,
We vow to stand strong with our comrades in the LGBTQ community.
In Solidarity and Struggle,
MSU Students for a Democratic Society
The Spring semester's first Board of Trustees Meeting quickly changed from boring to interesting when students from the audience yelled "mic check" and relayed a communique to the Board members.
Alan Akins, the President of SPECTRUMS--the LGBT organization at MSU-- led the speaking, as members of the audience repeated his words that exposed the undemocratic practices and greed-driven motives of the administration.
The board members completely ignored the mic check and proceeded with their meeting, although no one could hear what they were saying. About half way though the video, you can see Susan Cole pointing to the student trustee, gesturing for him to give his address and not wait for the mic check to end. By the end of the mic check, board members got up to leave the room. The student trustee approached the students and gave his support, explaining that he wanted to wait until we were finished but was pressured to continue.
The action was the result of several incidents involving the administration's disregard for students. The administration's disregard is summarized in their rules against allowing students to speak during the board meetings. Students wrote numerous letters to the board members on this issue, and they were mostly ignored. The one instance where their concerns were not ignored is when Cole wrote back to a student, dismissing her criticism as "hostile," yet ignoring her question.
The second incident involves recent attacks against the LGBT community at MSU. Cole waited several days before making a statement of condemnation to the student body. She only did so after the incident gained attention amongst the students. Cole's actions imply that she is was more concerned about covering up the story protect the university's reputation than she was about protecting her own students. Not only did Cole wait too long to respond to the hate speech, but she also did not show up to the meeting set up by the administration to show solidarity with SPECTRUMS and the LGBT community. Cole recently hosted a meeting about vandalism in the residence halls, yet she could not make time to meet with a community of students who received death threats because of their sexuality.