Dear CCNY Community,
Welcome back! I hope that each of you found time over the summer to unwind a bit, explore something new, and recharge from the past academic year. If you are coming to our campus for the first time—as an incoming student or a new member of our faculty or staff—please accept my hearty welcome to our campus community. It promises to be an exciting and consequential year.
City College is a unique place, a fact that has been a source of great pride to many of us over the years. Every day, we embark together upon a mission to educate the whole people. For a hundred and seventy years, this mission has evolved, centering first on the opportunity that free tuition gave the sons and daughters of working families, expanding to embrace those excluded from other campuses because of their gender, or their race, or what they believed. Today—as in years past—we also reaffirm our utter indifference to questions of immigration status: however you came to join us at CCNY, once you are here, you belong--in every respect, and with every right in our capacity to honor—to our beloved campus community.
Today, the values we have so strongly cherished face great challenges outside our campus, challenges that grew more overtly ugly over the weeks of this past summer. The catalogue is heartbreakingly long: racism, religious discrimination, white supremacist demonstrations, a seemingly easier resort to violence, and a dark mood that ceaselessly seeks to exclude members of this community and our neighbors, from the rights, the security and the prosperity of this nation. How so many came to relish their role in inflicting this brutal season upon one another, I do not know, but it has no place at CCNY. I know that we stand together on this point, and I ask each and every one of you to commit yourself, not just to a personal pledge of good and honorable conduct, but to the conscious construction of a better community from which we can all draw strength and pride.
It would be a mistake, moreover, to assume that the diversity we so often celebrate inoculates us from this brutal season. It does not. Every day, students, faculty and staff carry the burden of our broader social environment around with them. Even on this campus, anxiety, fear and conflict seemed more in evidence over recent months than in years past. We cannot simply believe that our history and our demographics shield us from the need to stem this tide. In my office, reports of hate speech, or hateful conduct, have risen. The experience of diversity has more than a few times soured into something more distrusting and bitter. Differences in power and position, inevitable parts of any hierarchical organization, now seem more frequently to have opened the way for disparities in respect or lapses in civility, especially when those differences overlap with race or gender differences.
We have always been an activist campus. The foundational values and the dreams upon which our institution was built require daily defense, especially when they are so publically and broadly under attack. Together and individually, let's use the occasion of this new academic year to examine the ground upon which we stand, and recommit ourselves to its defense. In our teaching and learning, in our interactions with one another, in our research and in our programming, let's make sure that we continue to represent the best and most noble aspirations of our people and our college. Let's take care of one another, and pay attention to the needs of those around us, and make our place in this world more beautiful, just and kind.
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to a new academic year.