April 2, 2020
The halls of Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) are quiet and empty. The laughter of students is gone and the vibrancy of BMCC’s environment is absent.
“It’s awkward and very quiet,” said one of BMCC’s Peace Officers who is stationed at the Harrison Street entrance. “We continue to do our jobs, but it’s odd when no one is around.”
As the world continues to receive updates about the COVID-19 pandemic, BMCC staff came together to hand out bags of food from the Panther Pantry and laptops and Chromebooks to students who were in need.
The collective efforts were made possible by the coordination of BMCC’s Administration and Planning (Buildings and Grounds, Public Safety and the Custodial Team) and the efforts of Student Affairs (Single Stop). Members of BMCC’s Administration volunteered to handout bags of food and greet students who were continuing to transition to distance learning for the remainder of the 2020 Spring semester.
IPads and laptop distribution
On March 31, CUNY distributed tablets and computers at each of its colleges for students who do not have access to a device amid school closures from coronavirus. This program is part of a university-wide effort to help students prepare for distance learning during the Recalibration Period for Educational Equity, which was recently announced by CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodriguez.
“This, to me, is not a small consideration but pivotal to our commitment to equity, and to our mission of supporting all our students and making sure that we continue being an engine of upward mobility, even during these most trying of times for everyone,” said Chancellor Rodriguez in his announcement.
BMCC administrators devised a distribution plan in compliance with New York State on PAUSE Executive Order. Jorge Yafar, Assistant Vice President for Campus Planning and Facilities, says his staff, which includes Public Safety, the Custodian Team and Buildings and Grounds, are dedicated to ensuring BMCC continues to support its students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My staff has continued to work many long hours and days, and I appreciate their dedication to our students and BMCC,” Yafar said. “Our custodians, peace officers and buildings and grounds staff members are playing a very critical role during this time, and they are making it possible for the college to move forward amid the COVID-19 outbreak.”
On March 31, BMCC created a distribution center of more than 800 tablets and laptops in the BMCC gymnasium. Students were sent communications from the Office of Student Affairs to provide detailed instruction on how to request and receive one of the devices for loan. Students have been coming in to pick up their devices so they can continue with their coursework.
Panther Pantry food distribution
On March 27, BMCC staff and administrators began handing out bags of food to students in need. BMCC’s Panther Pantry was instrumental in maintaining a steady flow of food for students under these circumstances. The bags of food, which include items like cereal, canned foods and fruit juices, were assembled by BMCC staff and placed in the distribution center, located in Richard Harris Terrace, in the college’s main building at 199 Chambers Street.
BMCC administrators are volunteering to distribute food, including Interim President Karrin Wilks, who delivered a video message on March 27, thanking the BMCC community for their collective efforts and support during the recalibration period and college’s transition to distance learning.
Other administrators who are volunteering include Diane Walleser, Vice President of Enrollment Management; Sunil Gupta, Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development, and Manny Romero, Executive Director of Public Affairs.
As students come in, many have shared with volunteers how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting them and how they are adjusting to distance learning.
One BMCC student from England admitted that it was difficult for her to adjust to distance learning because she was away from home. “It’s been hard,” she said. “My family is not here and I’m doing my best to continue.”
One student came in and said he was laid off from his position with a local non-profit organization. He said that all of his fellow staff members were let go, and he said, “What you [BMCC] are doing with this [food distribution] is great. I appreciate this very much. This is really a life-saver.”
BMCC will continue with food distribution in the coming weeks. Students who need food should contact the Office of Student Affairs.
In addition, messages from BMCC Interim President Karrin Wilks are also available on this site. To receive campus updates, members of the BMCC community are encouraged to update their contact information in CUNYfirst. The college will send community notices to the email addresses provided in CUNYfirst and through CUNY Alert text messages. In addition, stay tuned for updates on BMCC’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin.
- BMCC staff hand out bags of food from the Panther Pantry and laptops and Chromebooks to students in need
- Effort is led by BMCC’s Administration and Planning (Buildings and Grounds, Public Safety and the Custodial Team) and Student Affairs (Single Stop)
- Program is part of university-wide effort to help students prepare for distance learning during the Recalibration Period for Educational Equity announced by CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodriguez