Amsterdam News Staff | 9/1/2011, 10:37 a.m.
Students at Medgar Evers College (MEC) protested on Monday, demanding clarity from the school's president and the City University of New York about controversies surrounding the institution. However, CUNY officials say they are aware of the issues and are working to make things better.
Rain did not stop more than 30 students from the Coalition of Students Enrolled at Medgar Evers College from holding a rally on the campus with signs and a bullhorn. The students say they are being ignored after making several requests to meet with MEC President William Pollard.
Outside of the campus' B building, students asked their fellow classmates to join them in demanding answers about school operations and the use of funds. Members of the coalition said they want a response to the 31 questions listed on their petition, which has been signed by more than 500 students. A copy of the petition was delivered to CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldsmith, but students say they received no reply.
"I've been here since the fall of 2008 and I've seen a lot of changes," said MEC student Natalie Steel. "A lot of students are kept in the dark about stuff and don't even know who the president is. If he passed by, I couldn't even tell you who he is. He's never presented himself or wanted to meet us. People are getting [shortchanged] and we are not being challenged enough. Medgar Evers is being run like an upgraded high school."
Among the 31 questions on the petition, students are asking about MEC's annual budget, the $2 million being spent on a condo for Pollard, reductions in resources, rude staff members and the finances of the Student Government Association.
Akil Townsend, who is in his first year at MEC, said that library hours have been reduced, and access to learning centers and tutors have also shrank.
"We the students want answers to what is going on in the college. We want him to come out. A lot of the students don't even know him and he's been president for the last two years. The community that helped establish the college is not too happy with him [either]. These are huge concerns for us, the students," Townsend said.
As students passed by during the outdoor rally, many ignored the protest, though a few joined in. One woman even defended Pollard, saying that he was "the best president we ever had" and "if you don't like him, go somewhere else."
Protesters said that students are scared to speak out about their disappointment in the school for fear of being penalized. Many students fear that their financial aid will be taken away or teachers will alter their grades.
Gracia Branch, a student, said, "There are so many rumors in the schoo l and we don't know what is going on. All we are asking for is a meeting with the president, which is being denied. We are not getting the respect we need and they don't take us students seriously--that's the purpose of this rally."