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NCCFT to Board of Trustees: Restore our access to unfettered campus-wide communications

The NCCFT Calls on the Board of Trustees: “Approve the ALLNCC Resolution on Your March 14th Calendar!”

Restore our community’s access to unfettered campus-wide communications

The right to free speech is a fundamental value of our democracy; it is also a necessary condition for the free exchange of ideas, a practice without which institutions of higher education cannot play their role as places where students learn to think critically, produce knowledge and take responsibility for themselves as citizens. The students who enter our classrooms rightly expect, therefore, not only that the free exchange of ideas will be a core component of their learning experience, but also that the colleges and universities they attend will “walk the walk,” modeling this free exchange at every level of their functioning. By suspending unfettered access to the ALLNCC email list, essentially eliminating it from the life of this campus, President Astrab has turned Nassau Community College into an institution that fails to meet this expectation, betraying our students’ trust.

When he originally suspended access to ALLNCC, President Astrab told us he was acting in response to the ongoing criminal investigation of a threatening email that was allegedly sent to someone on campus. Even if that initial suspension was justified, however – and we still have seen no evidence that it was – this has continued too long. Failure to restore unfettered access to our campus-wide communications channel indicates to us that restricting such communication has been President’s Astrab’s real goal all along. Otherwise, he would not have abandoned the well-reasoned email-use policy approved by the Academic Senate and chosen instead to create the ALLCAMPUS list. This list is inefficient and insulting. By requiring us to send to Reggie Tuggle’s office for pre-approval any messages that we want forwarded to the entire campus, President Astrab is forcing us to submit to a regime of censorship—even if every single message Reggie receives is then immediately forwarded to ALLCAMPUS. Prior restraint of speech is something that should be anathema to any institution of higher education worthy of the name.

The model after which President Astrab has fashioned this new method (for us) of all-campus communications is not hard to find: the corporation. In corporations, in the interests of protecting the company’s image and preserving its bottom line, CEOs are empowered to establish mechanisms that monitor and regulate what the people who work for them say and do on company time. Nassau Community College, however, is not a corporation; President Astrab is not our CEO; making money is not our goal. Educating students is; and the education we provide requires the free exchange of ideas, not as a commodity that students purchase when they purchase a seat in a classroom, but as a value that informs everything we do at every level of this institution.

For these reasons we call on the members of the Board of Trustees to approve the Resolution on its calendar for March 14th to restore ALLNCC “to the same condition that it was prior” to President Astrab’s moratorium. Our students deserve nothing less.