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News :: Media
The Boston Globe Must Cover the Crisis at CPCS
by Concerned Members of the UMass Boston College of Public and Community Service Community
Email: info (nospam) savecpcs.org
13 Sep 2006
The most diverse college within the most diverse university in the Northeast, the UMass Boston College of Public and Community Service (CPCS), is in serious risk of destruction at the hands of its own Dean (supported by the UMass Boston Provost and Chancellor). For months, the CPCS community has tried to get serious coverage of this crisis in the Boston Globe, and has been repeatedly rebuffed. Now the CPCS community is demanding coverage, through this petition, after providing statistics demonstrating that the Boston Globe has an established pattern of seriously underreporting events at UMass Boston--a large public college--when compared to its generous coverage of large private colleges in the Boston area.
To the Editors of the Boston Globe,
Despite being right across the street from the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Boston Globe--Boston's newspaper of record--rarely devotes coverage to that most diverse public institution of higher learning in the Northeast. Our university.
While we understand that the Globe can't possibly write about everything that happens at the dozens of Boston area colleges, we would think that having 11,000 students would qualify us for roughly equivalent coverage to large area private universities like Harvard, MIT, BU and Northeastern.
However, our analysis of Globe coverage of these colleges during this calendar year, clearly demonstrates a glaring disparity when compared with UMass Boston. Between 1/1/06 and 9/10/06 according to a full text Lexis-Nexis search on the names of each of the 4 private colleges for articles of all types appearing in the Boston Globe, we determined the following number of references: Northeastern=384, MIT=558, Harvard=589, and BU was the big winner at a whopping 1010 references.
UMass Boston by contrast was referenced a mere 99 times.
If one only looks at the number of references in articles written by either of the main Globe higher education reporters Marcella Bombardieri and Sarah Schweitzer during the same period, the picture remains disturbing: Northeastern=13, BU=21, MIT=23, Harvard=31.
UMass Boston comes in last again at 6.
Now when there is a serious crisis at a large local public college like UMass Boston, we would certainly--again--expect the same level of reportage that our more expensive and fashionable sibling institutions regularly receive.
Sadly, as the numbers show, this has not been the case. For several months, the Boston Globe reporter responsible for the public higher education beat, Sarah Schweitzer, has consistently failed to cover the growing and extremely damaging series of scandals taking place at the UMass Boston College of Public and Community Service (CPCS). Our college.
Schweitzer has written only one poorly researched paragraph on the crisis at CPCS in a March 2006 "College Roundup" column, trivializing the problems at CPCS by insinuating that this public College was imitating the faculty at Harvard by voting no-confidence in its Dean. Though many faculty and students from CPCS have contacted her about the crisis at our College and sent her extensive materials, Schweitzer has--with the explicit backing of her Education Editor, Linda Wertheimer--petulantly refused to carry out her ethical and journalistic responsibility to follow such a story wherever it may lead.
In this case, the story at CPCS leads to the following: a CPCS Dean, Adenrele Awotona, was hired in Summer 2005 by UMass Boston Provost Paul Fonteyn, despite the fact that Fonteyn knew that Awotona had been fired under sensational circumstances from his previous job as Dean of the Southern University Baton Rouge (LA) School of Architecture. Provost Fonteyn failed to provide that information to the Search Committee responsible for vetting Awotona’s candidacy, and there is evidence that other damaging information about Awotona was withheld from the full Search Committee by the co-chair of the Search Committee responsible for checking Awotona’s references. It has also been documented that while he was a candidate for the CPCS Dean’s position, Awotona himself made misrepresentations about being fired to the Search Committee, and made other misrepresentations on his resume and in interviews with the Search Committee.
Starting in the Fall semester 2005, Awotona did such damage to CPCS that virtually the entire CPCS student body, staff and faculty began organizing for his removal as Dean within 6 months of his arrival.
The UMass Boston administration response in Spring 2006 was to remove 2 key staff people from the CPCS Student Services office--causing retention and recruitment to both immediately drop dramatically--despite 2 votes of no confidence in Awotona by the faculty and staff. The CPCS community launched a semester long protest campaign against these actions--on and off campus--but no corrective action was ever taken by the administration.
In early Summer 2006, 2 key non-tenure-track faculty members were fired, and in early September 2006, 11 more non-tenure-track faculty were fired with no notice just before the Fall semester began, resulting in the loss of 1/3 of the CPCS faculty and rising. Various CPCS departments are being forcibly reorganized, and the Awotona's small number of cronies are being spread thin trying to keep the pretense of normalcy going.
Meanwhile, due to the faculty cuts, and retaliation against tenured and tenure track faculty that have opposed Awotona, 40 percent of all Fall 2006 courses have been cancelled. Also with no advance notice just before the semester began. Many CPCS students showed up for school as summer break ended to find classes gone, core curriculum programs dismantled, no faculty advisors, and entire majors (like the Community Media and Technology major) gutted.
The story has taken on new dimensions as it has become clear that all these actions are taking place with the support of UMass Boston Chancellor Michael Collins.
CPCS students, staff and faculty have already resumed protest actions against the UMass Boston administration as the Fall semester has gotten underway. But our numbers are shrinking with every passing week, and it seems increasingly likely that the administration's real goal is the complete elimination of the landmark 30 year old college.
All this information has been provided repeatedly to Globe reporter Schweitzer and Education Editor Wertheimer. Yet with all this real news taking place, and all the potential avenues for a great investigative series at hand, the Globe has consistently told the CPCS community that there's no story worth telling to the public at large in all this.
Oddly enough, a similar, though far less serious, situation took place at the Boston University College of Communication (COM) over the last few months. And the Globe gave that crisis full coverage, resulting in the resignation of the COM Dean just a few days ago.
Given the similarity between these CPCS and COM crises, and also given the exhaustive coverage the Globe devoted to the scandal resulting in the resignation of Harvard University President Larry Summer's several months ago, we can only assume that the Boston Globe is refusing to cover the destruction of CPCS for one simple reason.
The UMass Boston College of Public and Community Service is simply too black, too poor, too female, too gay, too old and too disabled to be worthy of concern for the largely white middle-class writers and editors at the Boston Globe.
The CPCS community has provided ample evidence for a Globe investigation time and time again and been rebuffed--making us wonder, frankly, if there might not be some hidden relationship between the Globe and the UMass Boston administration. We have begged and pleaded staff and editors for coverage and been ignored.
Fine. Now we, the undersigned CPCS students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community supporters must demand that the Boston Globe give proper coverage to the crisis at the UMass Boston College of Public and Community Service.
If this demand is not met forthwith, we will begin a public campaign against the Boston Globe regarding these matters--including demonstrations and press events on Boston Globe property.
For more background information, we invite the Editors of the Boston Globe, and members of the general public, to check out our website, www.savecpcs.org. Either of those constituencies, particularly the former, can contact us directly at info (at) savecpcs.org.
*To sign the petition, go to:
This work is in the public domain.