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Students in the dark about Medgar Evers College issues

Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 4:45 p.m.

On a recent Thursday afternoon at Medgar Evers College, the scene was typical of any institution of higher learning in America. The students at this working-class commuter college were talking on their cell phones, rushing to class or lounging in the building's lobby, discussing classes or socializing. Conversation was especially heavily centered on the basketball game the night before against CUNY's Brooklyn College and Friday's upcoming game against another CUNY rival, York College.

However, many students have no idea about the rivalry going on between their professors, or their conflicts with the school's administration. The school is there to benefit the students, but it appears that the ones who should be benefiting the most are left in the dark about the storm brewing on campus.

"I didn't know any of that was going on," one female freshman told the AmNews on her way home from class. "I just really go to class and that's pretty much it."

One male student said that his chemistry professor made reference to the conflict but didn't go into details, and that he's too busy to look into the situation and is there simply to get an education. He said, "I don't know that much about it but I know there are a few problems. It's really with the faculty."

Some students also didn't know that several crucial services to the school were being cut or eliminated, including the writing center and the library. Most students also didn't have any knowledge about the Center for NuLeadership, which allows non-violent former felons to re-enter society through education at Medgar Evers College.

One female student said that she could not believe the complaints that had been lodged toward Medgar Evers College President Dr. William Pollard.

"He's the best," she said. "He has an open door policy and I don't have a problem with him at all."

History has often seen uprisings from students when there is a problem on a college campus--however, in the case of Medgar Evers College, a revolt of students appears to be far away because of the lack of involvement. Some even say students were told to simply stay out of the controversy.

Dr. Brenda Greene, one of the leaders of the Medgar Evers College Coalition, said that one student leader for the school was initially involved in the fight to help with issues but later pulled away from involvement.

"He had a meeting with the president and then said that it was more an issue with the faculty and didn't get involved anymore," she said.

Meanwhile, as disputes continue between faculty and the administration, information surfaced this week about the school's provost Dr. Howard Johnson, who is being asked to resign.

A faculty member from the University of North Texas (UNT), where Johnson once worked as a professor and provost, is accusing him of providing false information on his biography on Medgar Evers College's website. Johnson is described as a "nationally renowned mathematics scholar," however his credentials were disputed in a recent email sent to the Medgar Evers College Coalition.

At UNT, Johnson served as a professor and as provost and vice president of academic affairs. The letter said that Johnson's position was a "courtesy appointment," although he was tenured. The letter also said that he had a lack of adequate mathematical knowledge, and this was known by the administration at UNT.