Editorial: CCNY purges radical ghosts
Good for the City College of New York: Its administration has finally shut down an unchartered on-campus student center named for two murderous 1970s radicals.
The center never should have been allowed to set up shop there. But somehow, in the aftermath of an ugly 1989 CCNY closure over a tuition increase, the Guillermo Morales-Assata Shakur Student and Community Center was able to open a student lounge in a CCNY building.
The problem: Morales led a Puerto Rican independence group that in 1975 claimed responsibility for a bombing in lower Manhattan that killed four people and injured more than 50. Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, was a Black Liberation Army member who killed a trooper on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973.
Both were CCNY graduates who fled to Cuba.
We can only wonder what CCNY officials were thinking in the late '80s when they let a center named for the two to use the on-campus space. If the move was meant to buy peace in a time of toxic turmoil, it didn't exactly work.
Nearly a quarter-century later, the center is still the focus of protests and rage. To his credit, Matt Goldstein, then the chancellor CCNY's parent, the City University of New York, ordered the Morales-Assata name stripped from the door of the center's student lounge in 2006. He called its presence "unauthorized and inappropriate."
And finally, last Saturday, security officers swooped into the office without notice, piled the room's contents into boxes and locked down the building.
Good riddance to a wretchedly misguided idea.
CCNY says it needs the space for an expansion of its job placement center. Maybe. But it also needed the change as one tiny step toward restoring its own battered credibility.
Now an outraged student group, the Liberate CUNY Front, is saying it's victimized by a "militarized lockdown of a public institution." Please. CCNY's mission is to turn promising students into productive citizens for a tuition that's affordable. Their future, and ours, depends on the success of this venture. It's time to put old battles to rest.