Author Joshua Henkin says that when it comes to families, Tolstoy was right — it’s adversity that keep them interesting. “All happy families are the same, unhappy families are unhappy in their own way,” says Henkin, citing the iconic Russian novelist to describe his latest novel, “The World Without You.” Henkin, who directs the MFA program in fiction writing at Brooklyn College, discusses his book, which revolves around a family mourning the death of their son in Iraq and how a calamity impacts family members for years to come. “Tragedies do big things to the most stable kinds of people.”
New York City’s Mexican population has exploded in the past three decades, and while a large majority has found work in the food and construction industries, as an immigrant group there’s been less success in the classroom. “On average, the educational attainment for someone from Mexico is the 6th grade,” says Alyshia Gálvez, acting director of the new CUNY Institute for Mexican Studies, based at Lehman College. “There is a very important need, especially when you look at the second generation.” An associate professor of Latin American and Puerto Rican studies at Lehman, Gálvez discusses the key objectives of the institute, including increasing college enrollment. “CUNY has its door open to them.”
New York City managed to survive the Great Recession largely intact and in roughly half the time it took the rest of the country to recover, thanks to its diversified economy combined with a bailout on Wall Street, according to Greg David, director of the Business and Economics Reporting Program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. “The city has changed a lot — and manufacturing is no longer important,” says David. “Manufacturing is also cyclical — and the biggest sectors by jobs now are education and health, and they are not cyclical.” Formerly a business editor of Crain’s New York, David discussed his newly published book, Modern New York: The Life and Economics of a City.
For decades the retail industry provided a stable career path —with paid benefits and steady wage increases — but that’s no longer the case, according to recent study by CUNY’s Murphy Institute. “Retail is such a large sector and an important part of our economy,” says Stephanie Luce, lead author of “Discounted Jobs: How Retailers Sell Workers Short.” But “if we continue to pursue a policy of low-wage workers — with no benefits — for such a large portion of the country, our economy won’t be able to sustain itself.” Luce discussed the study, which found, among other things, that the majority of retail workers in New York earn a median of $9.50 an hour, work temporary or part-time hours and don’t receive health insurance through their jobs.
Third Way initiatives that would combine both liberal and conservative ideas could help the millions of Americans who are out of work, said Robert Cherry, co-author of a new book, Moving Working Families Forward: Third Way Policies That Can Work. “We propose that the government buy up a million housing units and turn them into subsidized housing,” says Cherry, professor of economics at Brooklyn College and at the Graduate Center. “This policy would combine the liberal view that government should spend money to help people move forward and the conservative idea of efficiency-it’s the cheapest way for the government to create affordable housing.”
Billions of dollars in pledged foreign aid and private donations have poured into Haiti since the catastrophic earthquake that struck the capital, Port-au-Prince, in January 2010, but much has been wasted by inept nongovernmental organizations in charge of relief efforts. “The problem is that we don’t really know what’s going on with the NGOs — there’s a lack of transparency,” says Mark Schuller, assistant professor at York College and co-editor of new, wide-ranging anthology, Tectonic Shifts: Haiti Since the Earthquake. “As of last fall only 6 percent of the displaced people camps have had any kind of water or sanitation services because the NGOs have spent out their money.”
Although the financial sector in New York is becoming more racially diverse, white males remain far ahead in compensation, according to a report, “The Progress and Pitfalls of Diversity on Wall Street,” by CUNY’s Center for Urban Research. The latest census data shows that the workforce of white men on Wall Street decreased (from 57% in 2000 to 54% in 2009), but they earned more than twice as much annually as some other ethnic groups. “White men still dominate when it comes to the economic rewards,” says Richard Alba, acting director of the Center for Urban Research, who co-authored the study.
Dov Waxman, associate professor of political science at Baruch College, says Arab Israelis, a minority in the Jewish state, face opposition from a Jewish majority who see themselves as an “insecure and at risk” minority in the region. The author of Israel’s Palestinians: The Conflict Within, Waxman explains that while Jews represent approximately 80% of the Israel’s population, their anxieties resemble that of a minority “when they are faced with their own minority” of Arab Israelis in an overwhelmingly Arabic region.
What if scientists discovered a disease that affected millions of children and the exposed could pass it on to their own children? asked James Mercy, acting director of the Division of Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “If we had a disease in the headlines that was framed like that, what do you think we would do? But the truth is we have such a disease. It’s called violence against children.” He spoke at the National Consultation to End Child Abuse and Violence Against Children organized by the Children’s Studies Center for Research, Policy and Public Service at Brooklyn College.
Chancellor Matthew Goldstein announced a new initiative to help smooth the way for how CUNY veterans transition from military to academic life. “We’re going to do some very special things for veterans at CUNY,” said Goldstein at a reception honoring CUNY veterans. “It’s about time that we woke up to some of the problems that course through the community-people who have put their lives in harms way for us.” A committee chaired by Tomas Morales, the College of Staten Island president will be formed to study ideas recommended by vets who are CUNY students and suggest changes in policy and administration that affect veterans.
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