Faculty Calls For A Safer Work Environment After Adjunct Injury

Missing ceiling tiles in a Brooklyn College bathroom. / Paul Frangipane

On Nov. 28, an adjunct professor was injured when a piece of metal fell from her office ceiling in James Hall, hitting her in the head, according to Brooklyn College Public Safety.

The adjunct professor, Feray Narpay, was taken to the hospital where she was treated for her head injury. She will be out for the rest of the week.

The holes in the ceiling were patched by facilities in the days after.

According to Dr. Ken Estey and JoAnn Wypijewski, professors who share the three- room office space with Narpay, said the hole in Narpay’s office and the one in the joined area had been there for over a year leaking water that damaged the walls and dozens of books. According to Wypijewski, facilities came to fix the leaks in October but did not patch the ceiling. She says they promised full repairs of leak throughout the Political Science department over the winter session. Facilities could not be reached for comment by time of print.

Wypijewski was sitting in her office between 12:45 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. when she said she heard a crash, small scream and a thud that drew her out of her seat. When she rushed out of the door and over to Professor Narpay’s office, she said she saw her colleague crouched over in pain, tea spilled everywhere and bleeding. She was covered in bits of ceiling tile.

She said public safety, campus EMTs and facilities were quick to react and were helpful. After the campus services arrived, 911 was called. She was taken to the Aided to Community Hospital for evaluation and treatment, according to Brooklyn College Public Safety’s report.

Wypijewski said that seeing a colleague of hers being hurt doing something that should have been safe was “shocking, but the pieces of crumbling ceiling was not new.” According to her, the holes had been there since before she had arrived at Brooklyn College in August 2015.

For her and Dr. Estey, the injury is just an example of the “breakdown of the physical plan” and deferred maintenance.

Dr. Estey, colleague and former chairperson of the Committee on Campus planning, hopes the president takes this into consideration and uses it as a catalyst for change.

In an email to the president, he urged her to make repairing facilities part of her mission as president. “The facilities and the parlous state they are in, unfortunately, reflect the values of the school,” said Dr. Estey in the email to President Anderson. “As long as our faculty and students are literally at risk for injury or even death (this cannot be an exaggeration if a metal bar falls on someone’s head), then what does this say about our school and who and what it values most deeply?”

“Money is always found for what’s most important,” said Professor Wypijewski. “Somehow the lights come on. Somehow the gas comes on. It seems safety ought to be as big a deal as keeping the light and gas on…It’s not good enough to do half the job.”

“We need a safe work environment and this was totally unavoidable,” said Wypijewski.

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