As we continue to process the tragic events still unfolding since the Hamas terror attack, including the horror of the Israeli hostages and the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, I want to update our community on steps being taken to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of all our students and reaffirm our commitment to protecting the rights of everyone in the CUNY community during these heartbreaking times. I also want to urge us all to be mindful of how our reaction to this crisis impacts others, whether those opinions are shared in classrooms, at public events, or on social media. 

Increased Safety

Providing a safe, secure, and respectful learning environment is a primary priority of CUNY. Campuses have increased safety measures to ensure the safety of students around protests and other faculty and student events and activities on campuses. Although the public events of the last two weeks have elicited vocal and passionate debate and advocacy across the breadth of our community, they have been nonviolent — which is a testament to the values and norms of our CUNY community that we hope all will continue to uphold.

We have deployed Public Safety officers to spaces on campus where Jewish and Muslim and Arab students gather. I ask you to please notify CUNY Public Safety on your campus or Central Office of any suspicious mail, packages, communication, or activity of which you become aware. The University will continue to stay alert and take whatever public safety precautions may be needed to ensure that members of the CUNY community can come together in fellowship, to gather and learn in a safe and secure environment.

Maintaining an Atmosphere of Mutual Respect

Free speech is a cornerstone of higher education, and CUNY is committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of our students, faculty, and staff to express their views and opinions. CUNY has rules and regulations to maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect, civility, and trust on our campuses. These rules exist for good reason, for our safety, and they apply to everyone. You can read about them online

I want to also remind everyone that under our policies, University property and platforms, including CUNY computers and email addresses, cannot be used to promote political activities or agendas. You can read the full policy on the use of computer resources online. Social media accounts throughout the University also need to be kept respectful and professional. Please consult social media guidelines for your campus for additional information; as examples, here are the guidelines for the Central Office and links to the ones from colleges. As I have said previously, the CUNY affiliation of individuals or groups or the fact that events are held on our campuses does not, in any way, indicate an endorsement or support from the University. 

We are also mindful that conflicts, crises, and public debates can also devolve into  statements or actions of antisemitism, Islamophobia, and bigotry against Arab and Jewish students, faculty, and staff or individuals of opposing views. Incidents of hate and intimidation are in direct violation of our values and cannot be the way we respond as a community to this time of crisis. Anyone who believes they have been a victim of discrimination or retaliation is asked to use our reporting portal

Health and Wellness Supports 

We recognize that news reports and images we are seeing — as well as the emotionally charged atmosphere on campuses — may have a direct impact on our community’s well-being. We acknowledge that many of our Jewish, Palestinian, and Muslim community members and families are concerned and frightened. We have increased the availability and visibility of counseling and support resources for students, faculty, and staff. All CUNY campuses offer counseling and related services, and I urge anyone who is impacted and in need of help to access the support available to them.

Our campus health and wellness centers have professional counselors on hand to help students work through anxiety, grief, and other overwhelming feelings and personal concerns. You can find location and contact information for all the health and wellness centers online. Students can learn how to access additional services on the CUNY Mental Health Services Webpage. 

Faculty and staff may contact CCA@YourService, CUNY’s confidential employee assistance program provider, which is available 24/7 by calling 800.833.8707 or logging on to with the company code “CUNY.” 

As we have done since the days that followed the initial terror attacks on Israel, we urge everyone to be respectful of those with divergent views. Please be empathetic, civil, and professional, as our CUNY community continues to feel the impacts of the unfolding events in the Middle East. The dynamics in the region and their reverberations on campus are continuously evolving. Many are focused on following developments through news outlets and on social media. These can be overwhelming and sometimes misleading, adding to distress and uncertainty. For those who have direct connections to the crisis, please know that you are not alone. The University will not waver in its focus to provide safety and support to the members of the CUNY community.

By Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, PhD