No more #HolesAtHunter? Hunter West Second Floor, January 2nd, 2014.
Hunter is being fixed up after this blog and the USA Today article about it have generated a response from Hunter College administration. However, this blog was never just about the holes, but about the larger issue of inadequate state funding for public institutions, resulting in poor classroom conditions, rising tuition costs, and underpaid adjunct labor, among other issues. It was also about drawing attention to things we don’t notice. When I first started telling people about the blog a lot of people said “What holes?”. The slowly deteriorating conditions were outside of our conscious perception. The only negative response I’ve received to this blog was a comment that said that I should pay more attention to my teaching and less to the holes. I’m afraid they missed the point. As a sociologist, I wanted to call out those socially produced conditions we don’t notice, that we just assume to be a natural or inevitable part of our environment. This blog was not unrelated to my politics as an educator.
Until issues of funding for public education are resolved, the response of the administration to fix the holes will remain a superficial and cosmetic one meant to cover up the perceived shame and humiliation caused by this blog. However, this blog has never been about shaming Hunter, even if that is how the administration perceived it. Hunter is a great institution and I am proud to be a part of it, and honored to teach my students. Ironically, fixing the holes without addressing the larger issues will end up perpetuating the conditions that caused the holes. When the Hunter Dean of Arts and Sciences requested a meeting with me to discuss this blog, I suggest the administration organize town halls to discuss community responses to the issues of neglected facilities as part of the larger structural problems that are affecting the CUNY community. They’ve chosen to spackle over the holes in an effort to shut down the discussion and any potential for “negative” press, rather than use this as a starting point for a Hunter, CUNY, or even city-wide discussion.
Though it was important for people outside of Hunter to see the conditions of the facilities of public institutions, this blog was more about getting people in the Hunter community, students and adjuncts particularly, to become aware of the conditions around them and to see that we don’t need to simply accept them. Many people around CUNY are not accepting the conditions around them, and I encourage people to find their own way to be a part of the struggle for public education.
I won’t be on Hunter’s campus in the spring semester and I’ve posted my last photos of the holes I’ve seen. I will happily continue to post submissions of any #HolesAtHunter that you all may find.
Photos courtesy of Monique Whitaker