Keshia James – COVID and CUNY

The inequalities in education exacerbated by the pandemic are not only a K-12 issue but also an issue in higher education. The New York Times article “College Made Them Feel Equal” looks at how the inequalities surfaced within private colleges however, the sentiment is the same within CUNY. Ironically, more is revealed about a person when they are behind a screen than when in person. CUNY has taken some credible steps to address some of the inequalities from the onset of the pandemic. Keeping college pantries open, distributing laptops, grants for tuition and rent assistance, and flexible grading policy helped to address the challenge faced by many students throughout CUNY. It shows that although we are all receiving the same education, we do not all have the same opportunities. This leads us to question the notion of education as the “great equalizer” a belief the article made clear disappeared during the pandemic. 

The quick outreach shows that CUNY is very much aware of the inequalities among its student population. It is counterproductive in my view that so many classes were cut during the 2020 fall semester. This delayed hopes for some students of graduating on time and created additional spending on tuition, especially for international students. A quick scan through the list of PSC-CUNY op-eds for 2020, and you see the topics quickly move from health, safety, and addressing students’ needs at the beginning of the pandemic to budget cuts and lay-offs. However, the op-eds give a good insight into the vital role CUNY has beyond education in shaping the community. A role that certainly deserves more investment.