A new blog site called CUNYverse has launched, designed to publish blog-style pieces by City University of New York (CUNY) students. The site, maintained by CUNY students, aims to elevate the distinct experiences of these students by posting stories told by their CUNY voices. In the words of the website, it attempts to: “Explore the stories of CUNY through the eyes, words, and lenses of students: CUNY by students, for students.” Students often feel relegated to being the forgotten college-level students of New York. More coverage is seemingly given to the experiences and opinions of students from private colleges (NYU, Fordham, etc.) rather than their public CUNY counterparts. Students of CUNY rarely get to have their voices heard. CUNYverse seeks to challenge that.
The CUNYverse team consists of Baruch College students Phoebe Richiez and Yuliia Pylypenko, City College graduate Terrell Merritt, Queens College student Juliet Bonci, and Macaulay Honors College student Sumaita Hasan, in addition to guest contributors. The website is divided into sub-sections such as Academics, Alumni Advice, Life at CUNY, etc. The intention is to publish stories from CUNY students that fit all those different categories. For example, the inaugural post for the website by Pylypenko discussed how the Russian military invasion of Ukraine is affecting CUNY students of Ukrainian origins, such as Yuliia herself, through small vlogs by 5 CUNY students, also of Ukrainian origin.
In order to get a better sense of the project, The Knight News reached out to the CUNYverse team. Terrell F. Merritt, one of the co-editors of CUNYverse told us, “CUNYverse was launched to serve as a central place where students’ voices can shine. As a recent CUNY alum, I have seen so many talented students who either have amazing stories to tell or are incredibly talented in one way or another. CUNYverse is meant to be a very flexible space, so it can host both important stories that keep students informed and more relaxed features that might just recommend a new food spot.” He went on to add, “Overall, I hope that CUNYverse encourages CUNY students to see themselves and their fellow alumni as resources for one another, so that we all thrive together.”
Sumaita Hasan agreed, noting that, “Pieces can cover various topics, although [stories] having a focus on [CUNY] students, student life, campus life, and other personal stories,” are the focus.. The goal for the CUNYverse project is , in Hasan’s view, to, “foster a stronger network of students, alumni, and other CUNY community members. CUNY is everywhere and we really want a consolidated, open space to host multiple voices.”
Yuliia Pylpenko echoes this, remarking that, “Someone who just heard about CUNYverse asked me if it is anything like Metaverse. CUNYverse is not a metaverse, it is much better! It shoots for improving our communications and socialization without running away from reality to VR. Go check it out for yourself!” Pylpenko also believes that CUNYverse gives a chance to CUNY students to speak to their “peers within our big CUNY family and beyond.” Pylpenko finds something “amazing about uniting all CUNY colleges and creating a platform for students to be heard all around the best urban university in the world… This is a flexible, open-minded, and student-friendly place that gave me space and opportunity to touch upon an extremely sensitive, personal, and important topic – war in Ukraine.” This piece, just like the whole CUNYverse project, speaks to CUNY students in a voice that is their own, according to Pylpenko. The link to send stories and pitches to CUNYverse is located on their website. CUNYverse is also accepting CUNY applicants to join their team.