Saving CUNY’s Past – April 9th 2014
April 9, 2014 | 6:30pm CUNY Graduate Center, Martin Segal Theatre
Hear from activists who have advocated for public higher education for all New Yorkers. Participate in plans for collecting and organizing a public archive of our CUNY history. Join the archiving effort: Tell your story, contribute documents, conduct interviews! The panels will involve activists in the struggle for and defense of Open Admissions from the late-1960s to the present, who will describe their experiences and offer insights about the past and its implications for the future. Come and participate in the community breakout/discussion session after the second panel, where we talk about the archive and community involvement.
The Fight for Open Admissions, 1969–1976
Former student and faculty activists who led the fight on CUNY campuses to open the University to all NYC high school graduates discuss this transformative historical moment.
- Steve Brier (Graduate Center), moderator; Professor of Urban Education and coordinator of the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy certificate program at the CUNY Graduate Center. He was the founding director of CUNY’s American Social History Project (ASHP)/Center for Media and Learning, which he headed for eighteen years. He is currently working on a book (with Michael Fabricant) entitled “Austerity Blues,” a policy and historical analysis of the transformation of public higher education in America in the post-World War II era.
- Gerald Meyer (Hostos); historian, a founding member of the faculty at Hostos Community College (which opened in 1970), and a life-long political activist. As PSC Chapter Chair, he helped lead the five-year movement to save the college when it came under attack in 1973
- Pedro Pedraza (Centro, Hunter); one of the founding members of El Centro, the Puerto Rican Studies Center at Hunter College (founded in 1973), where he worked as a researcher and activist until his retirement in 2011. He then taught at BMCC and did research on open admissions at CUNY.
- Charles Powell (CCNY, 1969); a CCNY undergraduate in 1969 and was one of the leaders of the sit-in and the larger movement that fought for Open Admissions at CUNY. After graduating from CCNY, he attended law school and and practiced Civil Rights and Labor law in New York for 25 years and after he retired to advocating for and managing affordable housing in Harlem.
- Anthony Picciano (Lehman, 1968-75); Executive Officer of the PhD program in Urban Education at the Graduate Center, a professor of education at Hunter, and a CUNY “lifer.” He was a student at Lehman from 1968 to 1975 and was active as an employee in the fight to save Medgar Evers College in the 1975-77 period.
Student Activism against Cutbacks, 1980s–present
Activists and organizers discuss campus-based movements across CUNY that resisted city and state cutbacks. Hear how self-archiving efforts can ensure a more egalitarian CUNY history.
- Cynthia Tobar (Hunter), moderator; Cynthia is the founder of the WRI Oral History Project, which is documenting the Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI), a grassroots student activist and community leadership training organization located at Hunter College. She has collaborated with the Occupy Wall Street Archives Working Group, where she conducted life history interviews with OWS occupiers, as well as with the Brooklyn Historical Society on its “Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations” oral history project, which analyzes mixed-heritage issues, cultural hybridity, race, ethnicity, and identity. Currently, she is the Library Archivist at Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College.
- Maureen Lane (Welfare Rights Initiative); WRI Co-Executive Director, was a pilot year participant in the Community Leadership Seminar of Welfare Rights Initiative in 1995. On public assistance when she entered the Thomas Hunter Honors Program at Hunter, Maureen graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree and later she earned her Masters of Social Work degree. Maureen has been instrumental in fostering sustainable relationships with policy makers, advocates, activists, academics, service providers, business and civic leaders to support WRIs mission.
- Suzy Subways (SLAM! Herstory Project); the coordinator of the SLAM! Herstory Project, a collaborative oral history project about the Student Liberation Action Movement. She’s also a fiction writer, a freelance copy editor, and an editor for Prison Health News, a national newsletter for people in prison. SLAM! was a multiracial radical group based in CUNY that fought tuition hikes and the elimination of open admissions, and organized youth to resist police brutality and the prison industrial complex. Suzy was part of the CUNY Coalition Against the Cuts, a founding member of SLAM! and a member of Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation.
- Conor Tomás Reed (Medgar Evers, Occupy CUNY, Free U.); a student, educator, archivist, and activist at the City University of New York since 2006, and a co-founding participant of Free University since 2012. Conor’s work focuses on 20th and 21st century Africana social movement literatures and freedom schools, and recently published “‘Treasures That Prevail’: Adrienne Rich, the SEEK program, and social movements at the City College of New York, 1968-1972″ in Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, series 4.
- Alyssia Osorio (Morales/Shakur Center, CCNY); the lead organizer at City College of New York with Students for Educational Rights and New York Students Rising. She is also the Student Director of the Guillermo Morales Assata Shakur Student and Community Center. She has led numerous campus campaigns and direct actions regarding tuition affordability and accessibility, gender-based violence, queer visibility and resources, access to educational resources, and administrative transparency.
- Nancy Romer (Brooklyn College); Professor of Psychology, has been an activist for 45 years. She was a founder and/or key organizer of numerous organizations at Brooklyn College (BC) and in Brooklyn including: BC Women’s Studies Program, BC Reproductive Rights Action Group, BC Anti-Bigotry Committee/Multi-cultural Action Committee/Center for Diversity, Executive Board Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, US Labor Against the War, and Educators to Stop the War. Nancy has written on issues of political participation and human development and about social movements in NYC, Mexico, Bolivia, and South Asia.