Faculty, students and even some staff member may have thought classes at Queens College on Feb. 13 would be canceled as a result of the impending weather. Unfortunately, CUNY decided to follow New York City’s lead in opening public schools. Controversy surrounded both Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina for deciding to keep the schools open. Controversy should also be directed to not the entire CUNY administration for jeopardizing the safety of students.
As the harsh blizzard passed through NYC, QC sent an email verifying it has opened its doors as public schools were open. However, after 4 p.m., the college decided to cancel classes due to the horrible conditions, peculiar given the circumstance the weather in the morning was harsher and more dangerous.
Whereas Schools Chancellor Farina remarked she was pre-occupied with giving food to impoverished children, CUNY has no excuse to keep its doors open. In fact, some QC professors sent emails to their students cancelling classes and criticized the administration for their poor decision.
It is troubling no administrator from CUNY has either responded to the outrage or even acknowledged it in some form. The only notification was for students to be cautious when traveling to the college and it was presented by the QC administration. According to Alice, they don’t have any jurisdiction in deciding whether the school should stay open or not. Rather it’s CUNY directive as they centralize more power into their hands.
QC students were rightfully outraged by the decision to keep school open, yet blame should be directed at CUNY itself. For an institution following the lead of whatever mayor is in charge, the safety of students isn’t a priority issue for them.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina must also be blamed for allowing this to go through and forcing CUNY to open. While Farina has been called a progressive, it’s a questionable decision to open up school for give food to low-income students.
According to WNYC, only 47 percent, of the more than one million public school students, attended school that day. Lack of transportation is also an issue low-income households face and this is a decision out of the jurisdiction of Farina’s hands.
De Blasio speaks on “A Tale of Two Cities” and CUNY understands that well with three-fourths of the student body living in households making less than the median household income in NYC. Students, however, are behind in some of their classes as some professors actually went ahead with lessons and declined to reschedule the material learned. If this is a method to helping them, then it certainly merits discussing his overall plan on dealing with education.
After de Blasio spoke at his “State of the City” address at LaGuardia Community College, Interim Chancellor William Kelly pledged to stand by de Blasio’s initiatives to go forward. If Kelly really wants to put the financial security of current and potential students in mind, then he should at least acknowledge their safety as well. It’s an embarrassment and a lack of consideration when forcing students to come on a terrible day.