• Interim President Arcario's messages on Black Lives Matter

    June 16, 2020

    Dr. Arcario's special message preceding the Class of 2020 Celebration

    June 12, 2020

    Dear LaGuardia Community,

    At our professional staff meeting I stated that as a society, and a college, we must create an environment where diversity, equity and inclusivity are deeply built into the way we think and act. I am writing you to state this goal once again, for it cannot be stated enough.

    Black Lives Matter.

    As a White person, an Italian-American born and raised in Queens, coming of age during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, I need to say these words loudly and often, “Black Lives Matter.”

    We all do.

    Over the course of my life, I have witnessed too much violence, too many deaths resulting from racism. America has allowed the poison of racism to destroy lives and break apart families. I join you in denouncing racism and ask us all to do the work to understand and confront the systemic racial bias that permeates our nation.

    We must also recognize and take action to remove the systemic bias against Black people that exists within our own community at LaGuardia. Our campus climate survey of faculty and staff, as you may recall, revealed stark differences in how faculty and staff of color experience the campus. Faculty and staff of color see less opportunity for advancement, decision-making structures that are not diverse, and have experienced micro-aggressions in their time at the college.

    We must re-commit to our Black students that LaGuardia will be a safe and supportive campus, open to identifying and confronting our biases in- and out-of-the classroom, and that we will aggressively seek to close gaps in student success. Our Black students must know and experience a campus that is safe from racial hatred and violence and that we will never tolerate policing that intimidates and frightens our students.

    Seeing the marches across America calling for racial justice, I am optimistic that our students, this generation, will create a better future. Yet, I also know, from our history, that gains in freedom and equality have come out of organizing, advocacy and struggle.

    What can one do? I ask this of myself as a White man, and I ask you, as a member of the LaGuardia community, to ask this same question. I recognize that my response is in formation and must be informed by all of you.

    1. Listen, read, watch and reflect. We have an obligation to study our history, read the words of the great authors (James Baldwin and Toni Morrison come to mind), watch movies and documentaries to ensure we understand the lived experience of Black Americans.
    2. Think and act recognizing our own racial biases. I grew up in a community, quite frankly, where racism was pervasive, hideous words freely spoken. I am now more aware than ever that I must interrogate my own unconscious biases; it is my obligation – and our obligation as a community - to self-examine and reveal those biases, so that they have less of a hold on our way of being and behavior. I also will ask the leadership of the college to join me, as we collectively must engage in an examination of implicit bias. I will continue to challenge myself as I listen and respond to dialogue, by considering who is in the room and who is not in the room as decisions get made. We must all do this all the time. I want our campus to examine our academic and non-academic programs, our curriculum and our culture and work with intentionality and vigor to include more diverse voices and perspectives as we plan and implement change.
    3. Act with intentionality and a fierceness to promote racial justice. Now is the time to act. How you act, where you act, what you say is yours to decide. For me, it is about donating to causes that support racial justice work - and as a leader at LaGuardia, making a priority to advance our community’s work to promote diversity, inclusiveness and equity in all we do from hiring and promotion to how we provide student support to what and how we teach and learn. This means furthering the work of the newly established President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. I am pleased to announce that the co-chairs of the Council are Vanessa Bing, Steven Hitt, and Wendy Nicholson. I met with this group last week and I have empowered the Council to devise strategies that need to be implemented with urgency. They will begin their work by constituting the full membership of the Council, creating online resources for action, and developing trainings to occur across the entire college community. The training will begin with a seminar offered by the Center for Teaching and Learning in Spring 2021, with a winter institute in January 2021, titled “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Across the Curriculum and Campus”.

    I ask you to make time to learn and act and to be part of the changes needed here at the college. Let us make this moment one that will be remembered in our history—that of our nation and here at LaGuardia--when we, especially those who identify as White, stood up for racial justice and made it clear, in words, action and laws, that “Black Lives Matter.”

    My best,

    May 30, 2020

    Statement From Chancellor Matos Rodríguez On Police-Involved Killing Of George Floyd.

    May 29, 2020

    Dear College Community: The recent horrific crimes committed against George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery make us grieve for the loss of these men. These deaths are painful reminders of our nation’s long and ugly history of oppression of Black Americans.

    While grieving is essential, these crimes require us to sadly recognize that racism, and the brutality it breeds, continues to poison our America. We must continue our own learning to understand the roots of these crimes and why these recent incidents are not isolated acts. And then we must act. Our action can take many forms, from work we do in and out of the classroom at LaGuardia to combat prejudice and build inclusivity to acting in our own personal lives to confront and combat racism. I am confident that this work will be supported and furthered with high intentionality by our recently formed Presidential Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

    I thank those in our community for the work they do to advance diversity, inclusion and racial equity and I ask us all to not be silent as we witness these atrocities. Paul