CUNY Student Summit event recap

What is the university you want? That was the key topic of discussion and debate during a day-long virtual summit held on May 5, 2023 for hundreds of students from campuses across CUNY. 

The event, hosted by Transformative Learning in the Humanities (TLH), was the product of a full year of planning led by summit coordinator Yuma Carpenter-New (MFA Program, Brooklyn College) and a 24-member student advisory board. It attracted more than 220 attendees who came together to think about what their college communities need most and to imagine ways to improve their social learning experience and academic life (see full summit schedule below).

The summit opened with a reading of a collaborative poem crafted by the Student Advisory Board, a manifesto outlining the desires and needs of students within the university and an introduction to the summit read by TLH student advisors. TLH Faculty Co-Director Shelly Eversley shared her thoughts on the manifesto and the role of students in shaping higher education.

Queens College alum Eto’o Tsana, a dance educator, performer and choreographer, then led participants through a dance pedagogy workshop which was a fun way to get everyone moving at the early hour. 

The bulk of the day was devoted to 11 different panel discussions with thought provoking ideas, broken up by brainstorming sessions and other creative breaks. Below are some sample topics from the student panels:

  • On- and Off-Campus Resources
  • Student Mental Health and Wellness
  • Democracy in the Classroom
  • Increasing Enrollment
  • Better Support for Immigrant, First-Generation and Undocumented Students
  • Practical Tips for the Classroom
  • Better Support for Non-Traditional Aged Students
  • The Importance of Ethnic Studies
  • Mentoring in Faculty-Student Relationships
  • Online Learning
  • Peer Tutoring & Student Clubs
Presentation slide

Student Advisory Board member Holliday Senquiz (Guttman Community College) discusses the need to expand student supports for housing and food

Presentation slide

Keshon McNeil (Baruch College, class of 2023) presents his vision of the “University of Divine Arts, A University Dedicated to Social Change,” developed during a Black and Latinx Studies seminar in Fall ’22.

Zoom screenshot showing summit participants holding their drawings

Graduate Center Ph.D. candidate Madeleine Barnes, who is researching the storytelling embedded in the centuries-old art form of embroidery, invited participants to create their own embroidery forms to tell the story of their own educational journeys.

The final activity was a collaborative manifesto, taking in all the ideas from the day to summarize the kind of university that the TLH team, faculty fellows and students have been working to create. TLH staff and faculty fellows provided mentorship, chaired the panel discussions and helped guide the conversations. But the summit’s success stems from the hard work of student presenters, who prepared well and  conducted themselves with an aura of professionalism that will translate into fruitful future endeavors within and beyond academia. 

Brainstorming for a manifesto exercise

A whiteboard with sticky notes with answers to “what is the university you want?” Answers include, “Lifetime connections,” A sense of intellectual self,” “Excellent free education for everybody,” and “Professors see me enough to care about what happens to me.”

Summit Schedule:

9-9:45 AM  
Opening Session and Dance Pedagogy Workshop

9:45-10 AM
Coffee Break Chat: Favorite Class You’ve Taken at CUNY

10-10:50 AM
On- and Off-Campus Resources

10:50-11 AM
Padlet Break

11-11:50 AM
Student Mental Health and Wellness

11:50 AM-12:30 PM
Lunch Break

12:30-1 PM
Panel 1: Democracy in the Classroom
Panel 2: Increasing Enrollment
Panel 3: Better Support for Immigrant, First-Generation, and Undocumented Students

1-1:10 PM
Video Break

1:10-2 PM
Practical Tips for the Classroom

2-2:10 PM

2:10-2:50 PM
Better Support for Non-Traditional Aged Students

2:50-3:00 PM
Collaborative Doodling Break

3-3:30 PM 
Panel 1: Decolonial Love: Importance of Ethnic Studies
Panel 2: Mentoring in Faculty-Student Relationships

3:30-3:35 PM
Quick Break

3:35-4:05 PM
Panel 1: Online Learning
Panel 2: Peer Tutoring & Student Clubs

4:05-4:10 PM
Quick Break

4:10-4:40 PM
Embroidery: Creating Networks of Care and Love Within the University Through a Centuries-Old Art Form

4:40-5 PM
Closing Session

This entry was posted in Events & Notes, Professional Development, Student-Centered Pedagogy on by .

About Jessica Murray

Jessica Murray received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY in 2020. She is the Director of Digital Communications for Transformative Learning in the Humanities (TLH), a three-year initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She is also working on a web project with teaching materials about civil rights struggles in New York City, including disability rights history. She advocates for improving public transit accessibility in New York City for people with disabilities and chairs the Advisory Committee for Transit Accessibility for New York City Transit.

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