Photo Courtesy of Queens College
Queens College is part of the City University of New York system.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday issued an open letter to State University of New York Board of Trustees Chairman Carl McCall and City University of New York Board of Trustees Chairman Bill Thompson, Jr., directing them to maintain their diversity and inclusion plans after the Trump administration rescinded Obama-era guidelines on using race in college admissions.
In the missive, Cuomo characterized Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent higher education action as “part of a troubling trend by the President and his administration to alienate minorities and build walls to diversity and equal participation in society.”
Earlier this month, Sessions announced that he is rescinding 24 guidance documents that were “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.” The withdrawn documents include several Obama-led education files:
• Dec. 2, 2011 Dear Colleague Letter Regarding the Use of Race by Educational Institutions.
• 2011 Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity in Postsecondary Education dated Dec. 2, 2011.
• 2011 Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools dated Dec. 2, 2011.
• Sept. 27, 2013 Dear Colleague Letter on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity in Higher Education After Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin [Fisher I].
• Sept. 27, 2013 Questions and Answers About Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin [Fisher I].
• May 6, 2014 Dear Colleague Letter on the Supreme Court Ruling in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.
• Sept. 30, 2016 Question and Answers About Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin [Fisher II].
Cuomo described both New York systems as “bastions of diversity and engines of social mobility.” The message instructs the chairmen to continue existing policies that promote racial diversity and inclusion and to prepare a report by Aug. 15 on how they will further expand and increase diversity on campuses.
“In this state, we embrace diversity and we encourage it,” Cuomo wrote. “SUNY is nearly 45-percent minority and CUNY is 76-percent minority. This diversity broadens understanding and breaks down barriers and stereotypes, and it ensures all New Yorkers have the opportunity to succeed. The new federal action should have no bearing on admission policies and should not interfere with SUNY’s and CUNY’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive student body.”