What is happening at Medgar Evers College?
Elinor Tatum | 4/12/2011, 5:32 p.m.
We fear there is trouble brewing at Medgar Evers College, and it may well be at the point where it is about to boil over for everyone to see.
Medgar Evers College (MEC), named after the esteemed slain civil rights leader, was founded as a part of the City University System (CUNY) in 1970 by the Board of Higher Education of the City of New York as a direct result of the Central Brooklyn community expressing a great desire for a center for higher education in their neighborhoods.
The announcement was made almost exactly 40 years ago, on December 2. MEC community Council Chair John Enoch and the Board of Higher Education co-hosted an announcement in Brooklyn.
"The Medgar Evers College, reflecting the image of the martyred leader who dedicated his life to the cause of individual freedom, dignity and personal fulfillment, will add another pillar of strength to the growing educational, economic, cultural and social foundations of the central Brooklyn community and New York City," Enoch said.
That same day, Myrlie Evers, Evers' widow, was presented with a scroll that read, "In choosing the name of Medgar Evers, it is our hope that his ideals will inspire students and faculty of the college in their pursuit of truth as the surest path to human freedom and social justice."
But that all may be at stake now, as a drama seems to be unfolding, and the one thing that is for sure is that nothing is clear.
According to Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson, at the Center for Nu Leadership, which he states was not an approved center, he has been ordered off the campus and effectively shut down by the Provost of the College. Provost Howard Johnson asked that the organization vacate its offices by the end of the year. Sources from the college have said that they were forced out early. And, adding to the drama, CUNY Central and the college administration couldn't explain how the organization wound up on campus in the first place.
Meanwhile, we have learned that the Dubois Bunche Center for Public Policy, a think tank dedicated to forging solutions to the challenges confronting people of color around the world, actually has no real standing as a center at MEC. This, despite the fact that the center has been in existence since 1992. It is just now that the question of "status" has become an issue, along with the future of former Assemblyman Roger Green, its current executive director, who sources say has not been reappointed as a distinguished lecturer.
We see now that there are a lot of questions for the future of many important aspects of MEC, and the answers may not be pretty. So as Bettie Davis once said in a movie long ago, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night."