In 2010, CUNY Law had the opportunity to move from its building in Flushing – a former middle school with minimal transit access – to six floors of a former Citibank building in Long Island City. This move had a lot of pros, access first among it, but was also controversial; the space was still imperfect and much less cozy than the previous one had been.
Student Government at CUNY Law receives its mandate to govern from the CUNY Law Student Handbook (2020-2021 edition linked; updated annually) and TKTKTK. The CUNY Law Governance Plan establishes a formal role for SG-elected members on the Personnel and Budget Committee, the Committee on Committees, the Faculty Meeting, and other faculty committees as appropriate. CUNY Students are also governed by Article XV of the CUNY Bylaws.
Student government at CUNY Law is relatively well-documented, although rumors continue to exist about a laptop or desktop computer somewhere in the CUNY building that carries more of an archive but is currently inaccessible due to COVID. SG itself varies widely in its efficacy, due to the capacity of law students and the interest of the members.
As a governing body of a public institution, CUNY Law Student Government is subject to the Open Meetings Act and must walk some particularly precarious lines regarding respecting freedom of speech, race- and gender-neutral governance, and so forth. This is especially true when considering organizations that are in the minority viewpoint at CUNY Law, such as the always-controversial Federalist Society.
Tenure is the ultimate achievement for an academic – the promise of a permanent job, academic freedom, and the ability to do (within reason) what you want. It is also a little-c conservative feature of the academy – scholars seeking tenure must be judged worthy by the existing tenured faculty. One fear, of course, is that this penalizes people whose thinking goes against the institution and/or challenge its norms.
The larger politics of tenure in law schools is well beyond the scope of this project. At many law schools, academics are not practicing lawyers, or have only practiced briefly. This leads to a profound disconnect between the way the law is taught and the way that law is practiced. This trend is only increasing. See Lynn M. LoPucki, Dawn of the Discipline-Based Law Faculty, 65 J. Legal Educ. 506 (2016).
It should come as no surprise to anyone that tenure is handed out in a way that reflects institutional racism, and that women and people of color – and most especially women of color – experience the tenure process as more unfair and difficult. In case this is surprising to you, see what the ABA has to say: A.B.A., After Tenure: Post-Tenure Law Professors in the United States 9 (2011).
CUNY Law faculty hiring struggles in large part have been lost to the ages. There are a few notable battles that have survived, most notably the 2001 hunger strike when Professor Maivan Lam was denied tenure, and an early lawsuit brought by faculty on behalf of 2 faculty members who were denied tenure.
Tenure is controlled by the Personnel and Budget Committee, one of two faculty committees set out in the CUNY Law Governance Plan. All tenure recommendations must be affirmed by the CUNY Board of Trustees.
Latest Archive Materials about Tenure:
Student organizing around grading during the COVID pandemic.
Throughout late 2020 and early 2021, the CUNY faculty were trying to understand what to do with allegations of racism against then-Dean Bilek and a subsequent coverup. This all came to a head in March 2021, when two students pushed the faculty to make everything public.
This kicked off a massive series of revelations across the CUNY Law community. It still remains to be seen what, if anything, will come of it.
The full archive collected by student activists can be found on Medium.
Reporting on the issue and other artifacts can be found here.