Vincent Boudreau and Paul Occhiogrosso
I'd like first and foremost to welcome you back to campus. It is my fondest hope that for the most part, the spring 2017 semester will be a time when the most important work on our campus takes place in the classrooms, and that our most important accomplishments will be the education of all students enrolled at our college.
Nevertheless, we are now doubtlessly in a very different moment than we were a few short weeks ago. The new presidential administration has already dramatically changed the national approach to immigrants, particularly immigrants from the 7 countries listed in the so called "Muslim ban" executive order. The anger and resistance that this order sparked has been deeply gratifying for me, because it speaks to the generosity of spirit that I trust still lies in the heart of this nation, and I know is second nature to the people I work with, and the people who come to learn on this campus.
That said, we need to approach the needs of this moment in a clear headed manner, equipping ourselves with good information and a sense of what we can do together to make sure we cherish and protect our core values.
Accordingly, you'll notice some new things on campus. Soon, you'll begin to see stickers identifying classrooms and offices as private spaces, and other spaces - like the cafeteria and plaza - as public spaces. These stickers have a QR code that will take you to a webpage containing a fuller description of why this distinction matters in the enforcement of immigration law.
That explanation will live on a new site, called "We Are One CCNY" on our website, which will go up very soon. That website will contain the best information we have on what's happening to erode the rights and status of our immigrant brothers and sisters and to venues being set up to resist that erosion. The page is still being shaped, but we want it to be as dynamic and flexible as the times demand. One of the resources you will find there is a link to the Immigrants' Center at CCNY and the CUNY Citizenship Now! Office. If you, or someone you know, fear difficulties because of immigration status, this office, and the staff who work there, can help you navigate a wide range of services. You will, importantly, receive attorney-client privilege, and that means that any record of what you say is strictly confidential. If staff or faculty have questions concerning request from off-campus authorities, please direct them to Paul Occhiogrosso, Executive Counsel to the President. For questions related to public safety issues, please contact Pat Morena, Executive Director of Public Safety.
We'll also frequently be reminding everyone about the laws governing the confidentiality of student records, and urging you all to be very mindful of how we handle student information. Anything that is emailed, mailed, written down, or stored in records of any kind on this campus is discoverable, and so we need to make sure that none of us are keeping sensitive information about any student who might be at risk. I am urging you to take this matter as utterly serious. I know none of you would endanger anyone in our community intentionally; let's promise ourselves not to do so unintentionally, either.
I've not been - before this - much of a twitter user, but I'm now using my account more actively to disseminate information and coordinate our activities on these issues. (You'll also see other campus news there as well). The account is Interim President Boudreau on Twitter (vgbcc1).
I've been getting emails from some of you, asking about whether we should be moving in the direction of setting up meetings, teach-ins, and the like. I think this is a terrific idea. These are extraordinary times, and we need to think about our capacity and our obligation (as a public institution) to serve our students and to act as a source of information and level headed thinking for the general community. Accordingly, I urge all of you to write, to speak, share your own stories and make yourself available to people who may need you knowledge, your understanding and your conviction on these issues.
Mainly, what I want to say to you on the first day of classes, is this: the work and life of this campus must go on, and I hope that there will be days this semester that will feel, to all of us, like utterly normal CCNY days. But I don't want to pretend that the things we stand for - the legacy we've so proudly claimed for so long - doesn't put us squarely in opposition to the direction our national leadership has chosen to pursue. We will not surrender our values. We will seek to protect everyone on this campus with reason to fear the new national direction in our politics. We will work in ways that are not routine to plan our way forward, mobilizing the energy and expertise of our campus to make sure that the vision of America long forged within our walls continues to prosper here, and continues to inspire imitation in our society.
Paul Occhiogrosso, Esq.
Executive Counsel to the President
Wille Administration Building
160 Convent Ave.
Executive Director of Public Safety
NAC Building 4/201
160 Convent Avenue