Bedford Stuyvesant, for decades the hub of African-American life in Brooklyn, is undergoing a housing crisis at an explosive pace as longtime black renters get priced out and aging homeowners sell their stately town houses to developers. At an event, “Bed-Stuy in Crisis,” Brooklyn College journalism professor Ron Howell gathered a panel of local business owners, community organizers and lifelong residents to discuss what, if anything, can be done to save this black urban community.
For Andrew Delbanco, the value of a college experience starts in the classroom. “It’s the best rehearsal space we have for democracy … where you learn the difference between an opinion and an argument.” In a lecture at City College “Do America’s Colleges Have a Future?” in the Sternberg Family Lecture Series, Delbanco, an alumnus of the college’s School of Engineering and a professor of humanities at Columbia University, discusses the importance of institutions like CCNY that continue to help new generations of young people discover their potential. “No place in America embodies that principle better than City College.”
Calling the Common Core State Standards Initiative the “most promising education reform of our time,” Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, urged educators at a symposium to see that the new standards are successfully implemented in the classroom. “Our job in urban education is not to reflect or affirm the nation’s inequities, said Casserly, speaking at the Common Core Standards at CUNY, at a forum hosted by CUNY’s Office of Academic Affairs to share practices of CCSS. “Our job is to overcome those barriers and to teach our children to the highest standards.”
Speaking at a forum in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power reflected on the enormous strides taken by the LGBT rights community. “Forty-five years ago, this small group of individuals decided to fight back against a cycle of harassment, intimidation and bullying, sparking a national fight for equality,” said Power who, along with other LGBT activists, past and present, appeared at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House. “How far we have come from that time.”
In his new book, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, bestselling author Matt Taibbi explores how the income gap between the wealthy and the poor is also reflected in who is targeted for prosecution and incarceration. “I’m trying to show the two different ways that the criminal justice system works for these two different types of offenders,” said Taibbi at an event at Hunter’s Roosevelt House. Taibbi, who won a National Magazine Award for his columns in Rolling Stone in 2008, was interviewed by ProPublica president and founding general manager, Richard Tofel, to discuss the inequity of American crime and punishment.
In her new documentary film, “Underwater Dreams,” writer and director Mary Mazzio enters the highly charged atmosphere of immigration reform by telling the inspirational story of four sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants who won an underwater robotic competition, defeating an engineering powerhouse team from MIT in the process. “Those kids are now being perceived as role models, and I think they understand the legacy they left in their own community,” said Mazzio, who appeared at a screening of the film at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House and discussed the film’s significance with Nancy Foner, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hunter and the Graduate Center.
The key to containing the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is prevention, according to an expert who has worked extensively in the area. “There needs to be a lot more emphasis on behavioral responses” to limit exposure to the virus, said Stephane Helleringer, assistant professor of public health at Columbia University. Helleringer participated in a panel on the health crisis, discussing disease mortality, sociopolitical implications and the Western response at the Graduate Center, moderated by Leith Mullings, CUNY Distinguished Professor of Anthropology.
Author Salman Rushdie recalled the city of his childhood in The Moor’s Last Sigh, his novel published nearly 20 years ago. “The Bombay that I grew up in, in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, was famous as a city in which the communal tensions of the rest of India didn’t happen — it was one of the reasons why my parents chose to move there,” said Rushdie, who appeared at the Distinguished Writers Lecture Series at Hunter College. The author of 11 novels, including the Booker prize-winning, Midnight’s Child, Rushdie, discussed the complexities of modern day India and Bombay’s transformation into Mumbai as a theme he mined for his earlier work. “The Moor’s Last Sigh,” he said, “is a novel about that moment of transition — the moment where it stopped being Bombay and became Mumbai.”
The crushing indebtedness of college students and their parents — fueled by the virtually unrestricted federal PLUS program that ties borrowing to an escalating “cost of attendance” set by the colleges —is yet another burden to the ailing middle class, says U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Public or private, few colleges offer a nationally recognized option for academic value and affordability such as the package offered at CUNY, where 6 of 10 undergraduates attend tuition free, and 80 percent graduate debt free. At an event moderated by Janet Gornick, professor of political science and director of the Luxembourg Income Study Center at the Graduate Center, Warren was joined by Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman to discuss public policy issues affecting those earning lower incomes, including student-loan refinancing, bankruptcy protection and minimum wage reform.
“We now know he probably should have burned” all the tapes. “It would have looked better,” says author Douglas Brinkley, referring to the recordings President Richard M. Nixon had made in his White House years. Speaking at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House, the best-selling author of The Nixon Tapes, 1971-72, which includes the largest set of tape transcriptions yet published, says the president “thought they would have huge historical value,” outweighing any concerns for secrecy. The tapes played a pivotal role in his downfall, and the transcripts provide additional insight into both the president’s paranoia and his flawed political genius.