The following message was shared with students, faculty and staff via email on June 18, 2020.
Dear Members of the SUNY New Paltz Community:
We write to acknowledge the historically significant moments for systemic inclusion that occurred this week, including two Supreme Court decisions and New York State’s recognition of Juneteenth.
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the language of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, extending protection against workplace discrimination. Until this decision, it was legal in more than half of the states to fire workers for being gay, bisexual or transgender. This is a long-awaited victory and advancement of LGBTQ+ rights in this country. June is Pride Month and it is especially fitting to see such a decision rendered at this moment. You are invited to visit our LGBTQ+ website for information reflecting our campus commitment to members of our LGBTQ+ community as well as related resources and events.
Today, the Supreme Court ruled that the current federal administration cannot carry forward plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has allowed nearly 800,000 young people, known as Dreamers, to avoid deportation and remain in the U.S. While this decision does not give unqualified legal protection to the DACA program, the ruling also calls attention to the need for decisive federal legislation to follow. Resources on DACA remain on the College’s website and can be accessed using this link.
Finally, yesterday Governor Cuomo declared, through executive order, that June 19, or Juneteenth, would be observed as a holiday for the first time in the state’s history. June 19 is politically and culturally significant in our country and especially in the history of Blacks in America. We hope this day can serve as a day of reflection and inquiry. Learn more about Juneteenth.
These two historic decisions by the highest court in our nation and the declaration of the Juneteenth holiday by the Governor are only the beginning of what we hope will be many decisions and signals that our country and state are at a turning point where we critically examine and act to eradicate racism and systemic oppression in ways we have not done before. These developments are also a call to the work that lies ahead for all of us who believe that our country, our communities and our campus thrive with diversity and can, through individual and collective efforts, engage in anti-racist work and enact meaningful change.
Donald P. Christian, President
Tanhena Pacheco Dunn, Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer