Governor Cuomo’s letter to New York students: ‘This is not a state of fear’

Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office
Gov. Cuomo joins thousands in posting messages expressing hope and resilience in the Union Square subway station.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday sent an open letter to all students in the state of New York following the recent incidents of bias and discrimination reported at universities throughout the state. In the letter, the governor told students that New York will continue to protect all victims of discrimination and enforce its laws against hate crimes. The letter was sent to students in the SUNY and CUNY system and at private colleges across the state.

Following the increase in reported incidents of bias and hate crimes, last week the governor sent a letter to State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, requesting schools hold training programs to combat intolerance and safeguard New York’s students. At the governor’s direction, the state launched a toll-free hotline to report incidents of bias and discrimination. Residents who have experienced bias-motivated threats, harassment or discrimination are encouraged to call DHR’s toll-free hotline at (888) 392-3644 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. If you want to report a crime or fear for your safety, call 911 immediately.


The governor’s letter reads:

Dear Students:

After the harsh and ugly rhetoric of the campaign, many of you are concerned about what might happen next.

Let me be clear: This is the State of New York, not a state of fear. We will not tolerate hate or racism.

We have been and always will be a place where people of many backgrounds have come to seek freedom and opportunity. Almost all who live here can trace their roots to someplace else.

We cherish our diversity. We find strength in our differences. Whether you are gay or straight, Muslim or Christian or Jewish or Buddhist, rich or poor, black or white or Latino or Asian, man or woman, cisgender or transgender, we respect all people in the State of New York.

The Statue of Liberty is a proud symbol of American values, and she stands in our harbor. We feel a special responsibility to make her offer of refuge and hope a reality every day.

As long as you are here, you are New Yorkers. You are members of our community, and we will stand up for you.

The State of New York has strict laws against hate crimes and discrimination and we fully and firmly enforce them. It is illegal in this state to target, harass or discriminate against a person because of his or her race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation. We are a tolerant people, and cannot and will not let our freedoms be undermined.


Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office


New York State has a toll-free hotline where people can report incidents of bias and discrimination. Our responsibility is to protect all who are here, whether native-born or immigrant, whether documented or not. The hotline strengthens our efforts. Contacting us will not affect your immigration status.

New Yorkers who have experienced bias or discrimination should call the toll-free hotline at (888) 392-3644 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.

If you want to report a crime or fear for your safety, call 911 immediately.

New Yorkers feel a particular affection for young immigrants. For centuries, our state has thrived on the energy and ambition of the young people seeking to build their lives here. Your intelligence, your creativity, your idealism enriches us all. You are welcome here.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo