Classes have started again this month at LaGuardia Community College, and the Humanities Alliance’s Graduate Teaching Fellows are already in their third and fourth weeks of teaching this semester! Throughout the 2016-2017 year, the Fellows have been learning about and sharing strategies for student-centered pedagogy, alongside other critical pedagogical approaches, and have been discussing how to prioritize their students’ needs. I am excited to see how the Fellows are translating their scholarly interests and research into the introductory-level courses they have designed for LaGuardia students.
Along with excitement, the start of a semester often comes with nerves and jitters. This week, I’m thinking of a question I’ve returned to again and again this semester, and this year: How should educators approach the task of teaching and supporting our students in these times? (In these difficult, frustrating and violent times of virulent nationalism and xenophobia? And amid a continuing onslaught of white supremacy and anti-Blackness, settler colonialism, Islamophobia, transphobia, and homophobia?)
As a scholar of migration, diaspora, colonialism, and race, and a reader of U.S. history, I recognize and understand that there are many continuities between our past and present governments. I’ve also written elsewhere about the critical role of educators–scholars and activists, among others–in analyzing and taking action against xenophobia and racism unearthed during last year’s election cycle. As the election gave way to a new government administration, one thing has become very clear to me and my colleagues: CUNY students have serious concerns about their lives and safety under the new administration, as do many of their peers around the country. We share their concerns. And as educators, many of us are also a part of racialized, colonized, and oppressed groups; we too have to contend with the impact of xenophobic laws, policies, and discourses on our lives, and in our classrooms.
What resources and tools are available as we prepare to support our students? What is specifically available for historically under-resourced students (or staff) at CUNY, who are undocumented, Black, Latinx, Muslim, immigrant, dis/abled, LGBTQ, and gender non-conforming?
CUNY Resources and Advocacy
- CUNY CLEAR (Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility): CLEAR’s “Know Your Rights” tri-folds are an excellent resources to print and distribute on campus. They include the following topics: “What to Do in Interactions with Law Enforcement,” “Flying While Muslim,” “Charitable Giving,” and “What to Know About Informants” (and are available in Arabic, Bangla, Spanish, Urdu, and English)
- CUNY Citizenship Now! provides free, high quality, and confidential immigration law services at 40 locations around New York City to help individuals and families on their path to U.S. citizenship
- CUNY Dreamers provides a network of support for undocumented students across the CUNY system
- The CUNY Rising Coalition advocates for greater investments in public higher education. Check out their Students’ Bill of Rights and this petition for free, high-quality education for all CUNY students
- The Free CUNY coalition is organizing to make CUNY free again, along with stipends for low-income students, and wage and salary parity
- Know Your Rights guides (when confronted by local and federal police, immigration agents, and more):
- Communities United for Police Reform’s Know Your Rights brochures in English and Spanish
- The National Center for Transgender Equality‘s Know Your Rights guides also includes resources on how to find legal help
- CAIR’s Know Your Rights and Responsibilities as an American Muslim pocket guide
- RSVP for Bystander Intervention trainings from The Accompany Project and the Arab American Association of New York
- Deportation 101: A Community Resource on Anti-Deportation Education & Organizing is a manual created by Immigrant Defense Project and Families for Freedom, with Detention Watch Network and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
- United We Dream has a fantastic toolbox full of resources for undocumented youth, and a #HereToStay toolkit for K-12 and Higher Ed educators and their schools
- Equality Labs is a human rights and tech startup founded by South Asian American women, gender non-conforming and trans folks “working at the intersection of story, art, and security.” Check out their Digital Security Curriculum one-sheets on how to secure your iPhone and Android phones, computer, digital identity, network access, and communications
You can also find lists of resources from our partners here:
- LaGuardia Community College’s Support for Immigrant and International Students page
- LaGuardia Community College’s list of Post-Election Resources – Students, staff, and faculty have distributed this fantastic list, which is updated on a regular basis
- The Election Clapback Syllabus – This syllabus and list of resources started during a Teach-In / Learn-In organized by The Futures Initiative’s Graduate Fellows
- On Supporting Undocumented Students from Luke Waltzer, Director of the Teaching and Learning Center at The Graduate Center
If you have other suggestions for supporting students at CUNY and beyond, please comment on this post!