In 1976, the City University of New York (CUNY) unprecedentedly included Italian Americans in its affirmative action policy, providing them with the status of a designated minority. At the moment, CUNY is the only place where Italian Americans have gained such privileges alongside federally recognized racial and ethnic groups. This historically unique decision has significantly influenced the Italian American community in New York. Yet the question remains: have they made satisfactory progress as a group? Tracing the dynamics in their relations with CUNY authorities, today one can detect a high level of dissatisfaction among Italian American faculty. Additionally, it is not entirely clear how Italian Americans obtained the privileges of affirmative action, or why they needed this protection at the first place. This study traces the reasons for Italian Americans’ inclusion into CUNY’s affirmative action program. It also describes the development of Italian Americans’ relations with the authorities of CUNY, as well as connections of the Italian American faculty members with New York politicians. There is an additional need to investigate the employment discrimination case Scelsa v. CUNY (1994) that played an important role for the Italian American community in New York. Finally, the case of Italian Americans at CUNY should be considered in the context of recent events that illuminate the attempts of particular white ethnic groups – namely, Hasidic Jews and Arabs – to become a part of privileged local and federal programs.