LaGuardia did a stupid thing — a bonus post from Sean

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.


  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 

5 thoughts on “LaGuardia did a stupid thing — a bonus post from Sean

  1. Nelson Jarrin (He/El)

    this is so unfortunate. As a Lagcc alum and former staff, this just screams ineptitude and indifference.

    In the context of our class, this can fall under Care and a bit of Power;
    Care: as the staff who allowed this felt Lagcc students would be empowered by saying “Got no friends? part of the lower social class? and no money? come here!”
    Power: Upper management do not and will continue to not care about items like this, They already got their funding secured. why bother?

    I didn’t know about this Sean, thanks for bringing it up. i feel for my former staff colleagues.

  2. Katina Rogers (she/her)

    Hi Sean, drawing these connections with your institutional and individual experience is so valuable. How would you connect this to the texts and themes of the class in a more specific way? Nelson started to move the discussion in this direction by addressing the combination of care (or lack thereof) and power. I’d be curious to hear the points of connection with our class’s specific context that resonate for you as well.

  3. diana ballesteros (she/they)

    I’ve been thinking a lot about institutional accountability, especially when colleges/universities benefit from tax-exempt statuses, often subjecting surrounding local communities to bloated rental prices, and locking community members into cycles of perpetual poverty, while simultaneously gate-keeping accumulated cultural wealth and knowledge. All of this happening under the guise of the “public good” that universities and colleges offer; to read the initial statement is to recognize that these institutions continue to contribute to social hierarchies by reducing the experiences of our students, while, as Sean put it, participating in a savior complex. It’s strange to see how care (in this case, the idea of the public good) can be co-opted and twisted up to maintain power dynamics.

  4. Adrianna Rios (she/her)

    Hi Sean,
    I saw so much from today’s readings in your post. I think that your class is a clear example of the disrupted classroom orientation mentioned in the “Precarity in the Classroom” article … You found a way to speak “a language that resonates with students” and were able to take advantage of it and use it for teaching. It’s unfortunate that you now find yourself in that precarious situation due to unequal power dynamics. Institutions need more open people like Louis…For some reason, all of this brings me back to my “issue” with Bailey’s argument. Everything that she proposes is excellent but it’s only possible if everyone (including people like Andy) is open. People in different institutional positions need to be willing to collaborate with each other in order to change structures in a way that benefits both students and professors.

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