On December 4th before the end of the Fall 2017 semester, the Monroe Community College Board of Trustees held an open forum meeting where anyone is able to speak. Among those who spoke was sociology professor and Faculty Association President Bethany Gizzi. The forum was organized to show the Board of Trustees, as Gizzi states, “general concerns and reactions to what many faculty and staff feel are a lack of clear leadership on the part of the president and the administration as a whole.” To the Board’s surprise, this was the first time they heard about some issues.
With the college’s response to the racist tweet and the events that followed, statements by MCC President Anne Kress while on a WXXI radio show left the community scratching their heads. Kress said on air, “my call to the college community, to faculty, to staff, is where did we fail to live out our values for this student?” The community overwhelmingly saw this as a shift of blame from the student to the faculty and staff. A statement to which, many faculty and staff did not take kindly. According to Jim McKenna, a 17-year full-time professor at MCC, it “was what lit the fire” under faculty and staff members to become more involved in making their voices and concerns heard. The topics brought up in the Board meeting spanned from contract negotiations and renewal, to problems with salary equity, low morale, and concerns over the current college leadership. Many of these problems, while they do not directly affect students, indirectly impact the classroom. With those who make the college what it is not receiving their benefits detailed in their contracts and feeling like their opinions and input are disregarded by the administration, it progressively changes the positive learning environment into one that is no longer focussed on the students’ success.
These are all issues that allude to a much larger issue: the confidence of the faculty and staff in the current administration is dwindling. As this story is ongoing, the Doctrine will dive deeper into these issues initially brought up in the Board meeting and follow up with new developments as they happen to get a better understanding of why these are problems and what possible outcomes and solutions may be.