A Blast From the Past: A Letter to George

Colleagues at a fete for Department Chair Jay Roman. It had something to do with his leadership.

Constant attempts to disrupt my class and teaching by Colleagues and staff has been an issue ever since I was hired and is still on going. I plan to revisit the most reprehensible incidents. 

Dear George,

Because there is an Academic Freedom issue involved with this matter as well as references in this reply to the Senate Grade Appeals Committee and a former Hunter Senate Chair and the F/M department chair and inferences, subtle and not so subtle, as well as a shadow of a possible ethical impropriety, I am copying a few others who are either involved in academic matters at the College or are aware of the kind of squabbling and conniving that occurs frequently in the Department of Film and Media Studies regarding teaching and grading.

I’m not copying them, however, with the expectation that I am expecting them to do something. Not at all. I’m merely adding to the record of this issue, which is already a thick package in my opinion. Also, you should know this issue of your grade was raised at a department meeting in December, 2009.

So: I was really stunned by your email, especially in light of the insulting comments you were muttering when our paths crossed in Room 433N in fall, 2007. I was also surprised by its subterfuge and artifice. Your email to me is the first correspondence I have ever received from you about your IN, which you received 13 years ago. That day in 433N, fall 2007, when you were engaged in crude sniping was one of several days you had been on campus and in that office that week in 2007, and NOT ONCE did you say anything to me about your concern for the grade.

You have a lot of nerve contacting me now.

Background: Nevertheless, your comments that day in 433N caused me to leave the vicinity and contact the Registrar’s office where I learned that your IN for course CMC 75177, In-Depth Reporting, which I taught in spring, 1997, had been recently changed to a passing grade, an A, without me being consulted. There was a fleeting resonance in the department then about academic shenanigans as the department was trying to wrap up the loose ends of the demise of its graduate program in communications. So, I filed a complaint with the Senate Grade Appeals Committee because I suspected that another grade tampering scam was in the works (I’m not accusing you of having engineered it).

The complaint, however, never made it to the Hunter Grade Appeals Committee and, instead, was passed to the Chair of the Hunter Senate at the time, Richard Stapleford, who refused to allow the complaint to move forward to the committee. Instead, said Stapleford who phoned me, I had to contact Chair Jay Roman, who eventually told Stapleford that Professor Arnold Gibbons had mistakenly changed the IN to an A.

Wow.

I also still have the email from former assistant dean Adjie Henderson regarding this matter because her name, according to the registrar’s office, was on the record approving the grade change to an A. The grade was eventually changed back, via Jay Roman, to an IN. As far as I am concerned you had more than ample time in the 13 years since you received the IN to initiate action with me to resolve the incomplete, and you failed to do so. And you want to make up a semester’s work in the next few weeks?

So, I am astonished that you’re telling me you weren’t notified by Jay Roman or Arnold Gibbons back in fall, 2007, or anytime soon after, that the A* you didn’t deserve had been changed back to the IN?

Stapleford insisted then, in 2007, that what was really important was the image that the system worked in addressing what he seemed to regard as a maladroit moment of a grading miscue (which seems to happen a lot in this department). I was ready to provide him with corroborated allegations about other maladroit moments. He wasn’t interested. So it was.

Succinctly: I didn’t like the flimflamming. And I still don’t. If you had followed the appropriate procedures to resolve this matter instead of trying to circumvent them (with help, inadvertently or otherwise, from colleagues in my department, I might add), you might have resolved this issue many, years ago. Now, it is flagrantly conspicuous that the record is egregiously tainted. I’m not changing the grade but that doesn’t mean, based on my department’s tradition, that another maladroit moment might occur. But it won’t be by my hand nor at my taking.

You met with Jay on campus last week. Go back to Jay. Tell him this matter was suppose to have been resolved when he had the A changed to IN and that he should have informed you about this change two years ago. Again, I find it incredible that you have only recently learned that you didn’t have the A that you didn’t deserve.

Best,
Gregg Morris
Assistant Professor

*P.S. You really believed for more than two years that you had earned an A? In a graduate class you had stopped attending after about the third week and for which you had never submitted any work? And hadn’t contacted the instructor during the course of that semester to explain your non-attendance and missed assignments? Says a lot about the ethos of my department.

P.S.2 I raised this whole issue of you getting an A that you didn’t deserve at a department meeting in December, 2008. I considered it an excellent anecdote to try one more time – the last time – to discuss this issue of what I considered grade tampering in the department. I did not identify you though I identified several others connected with this matter, and my descriptions and opinions, expressed collegially, were a lot more candid than those expressed in this email. “Recommend For New Business, Wednesday, Grade Tampering in F/M – A Big Barnacle: Is a discussion needed? (The Short Version)” — That was the subject title of my memo to the department. If you want to know the upshot of the discussion, you can ask Jay. He was there.

Note: Copies of this letter to George were sent/cc’d to: george lawson [geelaws@hotmail.com] Sandra Clarkson [sclarkso@hunter.cuny.edu]; Renate Murray [rmurray@hunter.cuny.edu]; Michele Mitrovich [michele.mitrovich@hunter.cuny.edu]; Vita Rabinowitz [vita.rabinowitz@hunter.cuny.edu]

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