At John Jay College we’re used to taking on tough challenges. Our student body knows how to juggle jobs, academics, and all of life’s demands, while still finding time to help others. Our faculty and staff have mastered a “make it work” attitude when time and resources are not always ideal. Essentially, when it comes to creative problem solving, our community is thinking outside the box on a regular basis. That’s why you’ll be impressed with—but not surprised by—the innovative strategies our community is taking to tackle some of our biggest challenges.
In “Dive In” we’re not only looking forward to the opening of our newly renovated pool, we’re also addressing the unsettling swimming gap that impacts folks from underrepresented populations and low-income households. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that black children between the ages of five and 19 were five and a half times more likely to drown in pools than white children. Research has also shown that 79 percent of children in families with household incomes less than $50,000 had little to no swimming ability. With the help of two fellowships generously donated to John Jay College from Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, we’re hoping to advance water safety in our community, and make sure everyone will enjoy our beautiful new pool.
Today, almost half of our country’s large police departments are using body cameras. Are they helping to build community trust and decrease civilian complaints? Are they supporting police officers or are they reducing their ability to use discretion? John Jay’s faculty and alumni in law enforcement weigh in to help us better understand the research and their experiences in “Camera Ready”.
Learning that a number of John Jay students with 90-plus credits were either stopping out or dropping out motivated Dara Byrne, Ph.D., Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Retention, to find a creative solution that could help remove obstacles blocking our seniors’ paths to success. By collaborating with the MasterCard Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation, and DataKind, a custom, open source predictive analytics tool was created, identifying seniors that might need more support. With a substantial grant donated from the Price Family Foundation, CUSP, or the Completion for Upper-division Students Program, was created and the results are already impressive. Read more about this innovative program and the positive effect it’s having on our students in “On the Edge of Glory”.
Food insecurity amongst college students is a national crisis. At CUNY, 48 percent of students responding to a survey reported that they recently experienced food insecurity. As you’ll read in “Food for Thought”, we’re confronting the problem head-on with everything from food pantry options and free food vouchers, to fresh produce giveaways and SNAP guidance. As a community, we’re on a mission to make sure that all of our students are nourished both mentally and physically.
We all know that textbooks can be quite expensive. That’s why the Open Educational Resources Justice e-Reader initiative, written about in “Read All About It”, is so exciting. This new online hub of justice-focused materials takes the financial burden of textbooks off a student’s plate, and it gives our community an ever-evolving resource that can be shared by all.
Dismantling mass incarceration and racial disparities within the criminal justice system would be impossible without uniting prosecutors and the communities they serve. That’s why it’s so inspiring to see the collaborative work done at John Jay’s Institute for Innovation in Prosecution (IIP), led by Executive Director Lucy Lang. Through their research, courses, workshops, and publications, the IIP is fostering positive change within the criminal justice system.
To conquer some of our communities greatest struggles, we must use the ingenuity, empathy, and passion for justice that lies at the heart of our institution. These problems won’t be resolved overnight, but I’m proud of how we’re responding to them. As Albert Einstein so deftly noted, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Let’s keep up the creativity.
Karol V. Mason