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Queens Chronicle

CUNY schools will not listen to Trump

Cuomo directs colleges to continue missions of diversity in admissions

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Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2018 10:30 am

In another case of politicians openly defying the president, Gov. Cuomo sent a letter last Thursday to the city and state universities of New York urging them to continue to use race and ethnicity as a part of their admissions processes.

Trump announced on July 3 that he would be rescinding a set of policies set forth by the Obama administration that promoted using race as a factor in college admissions to expand the overall diversity of higher education institutions.

Cuomo, calling Trump’s announcement an alienation of minorities, said that the SUNY and CUNY schools systems have long been beacons of diversity and inclusion.

“In this state, we embrace diversity and we encourage it,” Cuomo said in his letter. “I am directing you to continue your existing diversity and inclusion plans.”

The borough of Queens has four CUNY schools — Queens College, York College, Queensboro Community College and LaGuardia Community College.

According to the CUNY office of institutional research and assessment, approximately 82 percent of all CUNY students in Queens belong to racial minority groups, the highest being at York College where 94 percent of students are black, Hispanic, or Asian-Pacific Islander.

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), a member of the legislative body’s Committee on Higher Education, says it is diversity that makes CUNY and SUNY schools so great.

“The strength of CUNY and SUNY colleges is their diversity,” said Peralta. “There is no reason to eliminate race from the college admission process, and ignoring the federal government’s senseless order is the right thing to do.”

The CUNY system was founded in 1847 with, according its website, a “commitment to academic excellence and to the provision of equal access and opportunity for students, faculty and staff from all ethnic and racial groups and from both sexes.”

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), who is also a member of the Committee on Higher Education, agrees with Cuomo’s letter and believes racial diversity is essential in a college setting.

“Queens College and the whole borough is the definition of diversity, all you have to do is open your eyes,” said Stavisky. “The Supreme Court has affirmed and reaffirmed for the past 30 years that colleges have the right to take race into consideration. Trump is trying to feed the frenzy of his racist political base.”

Interim CUNY Chancellor Vita Rabinowitz supports the governor in his position.

“We continue to be inspired by the impressive array of CUNY students and alumni who have won some of our nation’s most prestigious academic prizes and achieved distinction in their professional lives. Their success makes plain that CUNY’s strength, like our nation, lies in its diversity,” said Rabinowitz. “We welcome the governor’s call to continue our focus on diversity and inclusion and to make sure we don’t rest on past accomplishments.”

Cuomo not only told schools to continue their diversity and inclusion plans, but he asked that they be expanded.

“I am directing you to reexamine your existing plans to ensure these plans are furthering New York’s goals of diversity and inclusion,” Cuomo said in his letter.

This is the second major issue regarding diversity in schools to happen in New York City in the past month, with Mayor de Blasio recently trying to end the SHSAT, the test middle school students take for acceptance into one of the city’s specialized high schools. De Blasio’s reasoning for wanting to end the test is to broaden the racial diversity in these schools, but he received backlash from many politicians.

“The education system in pre-K to middle school needs to improve. Once that happens you will find an increase in diversity in these specialized high schools,” said Stavisky. “But college is different and what Trump is doing is just a sinister move.”

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