On Jan. 3rd, The City University of New York has introduced an online portal for students and faculty to report discrimination. This is a platform where members of the CUNY community can report incidents of discrimination, harassment, or bias they’ve experienced or witnessed. This implementation comes as a response to the rise of antisemitism within various campuses.
CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez addressed the issue in a statement, saying “We must lead by example. This new reporting portal is one action among many we are taking as a community to combat antisemitism and all forms of hatred at CUNY.’’ Matos Rodríguez stated. ‘‘Our University refuses to tolerate discrimination, antisemitism or hate of any kind, and we want every member of the CUNY community to feel welcomed and safe on our campuses.’’
These reports are submitted to the Chief Diversity Officer of the CUNY college specified in the report. They will then thoroughly review the report and proceed to take action. Anonymous reports are also accepted and will be evaluated with the same respect.
The portal acts as a uniform database, allowing cases to be accessed by other members of the administration such as college deans and presidents. These faculty members review reports in order to determine any patterns, hopefully leading a college to make some changes. Whether that be improvements to its diversity and inclusion efforts or developing current non-discrimination policies or diversity training methods at the school.
Within the past years, there have been multiple instances regarding religious discrimination at CUNY schools, specifically toward the Jewish community. At Brooklyn College many Jewish students had experienced instances of hate speech from other students and administrators. On our very own campus here at Queens College, there was an incident of a perpetrator spouting Anti-Semitic hate speech outside the campus gates.
This system wide portal is one of multiple steps being taken to combat antisemitism across the CUNY campuses. In a letter written to Councilwoman Inna Vernikov on Sept. 28, Matos Rodríguez stated that CUNY would be assigning $750,000 toward countering the issue and other forms of bigotry. Vernikov had been advocating for the Chancellor to finally take action toward protecting CUNY students, as she felt these events were being continuously unaddressed.
She was pleased to hear this announcement. When speaking to the New York Post she said:
‘‘While we are far from celebrating victory, I am pleased to see that CUNY’s response reflects what can be a monumental shift in the right direction within the University system. The fact that they are publicly committing to building a database/system that will record antisemitic incidents for the first time reflects an acknowledgment of a real problem plaguing the halls of CUNY.’’
However, not everyone shares the same sentiment. Some people feel that this approach doesn’t specifically address the antisemitic issue and instead groups it with other forms of bigotry. The executive director of Alums for Campus Fairness , Avi D. Gordon shared his perspective with the Jewish News Syndicate, saying, ‘‘That portal is very subpar, and unacceptable, and it’s something that we plan on sharing with the administration and talking with city council members about.’’
Some even took to social media to voice their reactions, with one Twitter user replying, ‘‘LOL. The very definition of empty words, not to mention all the documented antisemitic incidents around your campuses, and you do nothing about it.’’
It is important for universities to take a proactive approach to addressing discrimination, as it can have a significant impact on the well being of students and staff members. By creating a safe and accessible way for individuals to report incidents, CUNY is demonstrating its commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of its community.
To submit a discrimination report, the portal can be found here.