CUNY Discrimination and Retaliation Portal must be built upon

The Editorial Board

CUNY launched an online portal in January for students and staff to report community acts of discrimination and retaliation, but the portal’s creation alone does not go far enough to combat bigotry.

The portal is designed to give college presidents and deans access to information about incidents of discrimination within their institutions. This is an important long-term step in addressing these issues in the CUNY system. However, it falls short of providing the immediate action needed to address reported instances.

While CUNY has said data collected by the portal will be used to develop policy and training, it has not specified what the process for investigating reports will be.

The portal only states that the Chief Diversity Officer at the institution where the incidence was reported “will review this report thoroughly and take appropriate action, which may include reaching out to the reporting individual for more information or to explore next steps.”

Outlining a clear process for investigations is essential to ensuring real actions are taken in response to submissions.

CUNY stated the online portal is part of a “sweeping effort” to address hate speech. This action was prompted in part because of a 125% spike in antisemitic crimes across New York City.

In September, CUNY announced a partnership with Hillel International and distributed $600,000 to 24 CUNY colleges for programs, training and events that work to address antisemitism and other forms of bias. Another $150,000 was designated to support campus climate work done by central offices.

The most important way for CUNY to tackle discrimination is to empower its victims. Expanding the online portal beyond basic data collection is an opportunity for CUNY to do so.