CUNY calls itself “The Greatest Urban University in the World.” The claim can be considered fair — over 270,000 students are seeking a degree in the public university system, making it the largest urban university in the United States. For this very reason, one should not be surprised to read about such a prominent New York institution in the news.
However, as of late, recent headlines portrayed the public university system in a negative light. Last year, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice adjunct professor was suspended after tweeting that he considered it a “privilege to teach future dead cops.” A Medgar Evers College professor was arrested and charged with hosting unauthorized medical courses. Four John Jay professors have been put on paid leave following allegations of sexual harassment. Instagram accounts have been made featuring photos of broken things on the Brooklyn College campus. Criticisms of the new Excelsior Scholarship have arisen as well.
Research has shown that consumers of modern media have an appetite for bad news, which means that stories on scandals and corruption are easy for news outlets to popularize and profit from.
Negativity bias spurs the creation of articles that have the potential to bring the integrity of the CUNY system into question, but students who take advantage of the opportunities these university provides know that the resources and experiences available to them are invaluable.
CUNY, like any large-scale organization, has some bad actors. However, these bad actors should not degrade the achievements of honest students and faculty who depend on these schools for personal development. CUNY is widely touted as one of the best schools in the country for upward mobility. Among the headlines, eight CUNY schools made U.S. News & World Report’s list of 50 best colleges in the North.
Students attending CUNY can recognize the value it provides, and they can also recognize that the system is far from perfect. Students have the right and should be encouraged to demand necessary campus improvements.
The young people who are supposed to benefit from the Excelsior Scholarship, for example, are justified in publicizing their beliefs that the scholarship is not serving its primary function effectively. Each and every student and employee of CUNY contributes to the successes and failures of the institution and should strive to facilitate positive change within it.