Disclaimer: I’m posting this on the course blog of the other course I’m taking.
On Thursday, the college president’s office sent out a mass email apologizing for “the misrepresentation of our students on the LaGuardia website.”
The administration had already taken down the webpage in question before this apology was published, so I had to go looking for the offending webpage. I turned to Twitter, where I found a copy, which I’ve posted here.
The text starts off fine:
LaGuardia Community College students are not what most people have in mind when they think of college students.
If it stopped there, I don’t think anyone would have cared. Unfortunately, here was the next sentence:
Our students are frequently from low-income households, with limited to no skills, few or no social connections, and no manners, faced with language barriers or immigrant challenges, often older, sometimes needing a high school equivalency diploma and balancing work and education.
Nan, this is wildly offensive. You could rephrase this as, “Our students are the dregs of society and aren’t we spectacular for trying to civilize them?” (I do not believe this, to be clear) There is absolutely a tone of white savior-dom here and a great deal of self-congratulation.
While this would be awful at any time, right now, when the student population has crashed, this is especially damning.
Everyone I’ve spoken to who has looked at this have had the same reaction: we are horrified and we have questions. Let’s start with these:
Who wrote this? How did this get approved? Who looked at this and said, “Yup, This is perfect! Let’s go!”?
Now, let’s look at the apology:
Here’s a relevant quote
The inappropriate and offensive content on the Student Profiles page was written in 2018 by outside fundraising consultants who are no longer affiliated with the college. How it was allowed to see the light of day is a mystery to us.
- This was written in 2018? The administration is either saying that this webpage has been up for five years, or the college has been sitting on this thing and decided to unleash it now. It is almost certainly the second, but having it in storage for FIVE YEARS is … an interesting choice. Even if it was not looked at while archived (which I can understand), how did someone somewhere not check it before it was posted.
- Outside fundraising consultants? I doubt this one. This feels a little too personal, like the person writing the copy was burned out and/or angry at the college. We have been on emergency footing since 2020, and that wears on you.
- The last part… they mystery thing… I do believe that our administration is that clueless, though I’m guessing that they could find out if they wanted to. IT carefully controls who has the ability to edit the website. However, I read this as “We’re going to claim that this is a MYSTERY so that no one has to take responsibility for it.” And, yes, in my opinion heads should roll over this.