So, let’s review CUNY’S STATE of affairs…
In a recently published op-ed in the New York Daily News, NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced in recent months that his $485 million budget cuts, about 30%, to NYC, though both CUNY and SUNY (State University of New York) students have been slammed with a $300 annual tuition increase.
The City budget that’s being cut would normally go towards these CUNY senior colleges, and that “it wouldn’t cost the city a penny”, as quoted in the Daily News. He basically asked the City to fund these colleges while it’s already funding the largest public school system in the world, totaling over 1,800 pubic elementary, intermediate and high schools.
With this huge cut, as Cuomo is quoting in saying that he and de Blasio would find administrative efficiencies to cover the gap, though not much, if anything at all, has been done since the announcement months ago. Not to mention the $240 million that the governor said he was going to come up with to cover pay increases for faculty and staff going back almost six years, who haven’t worked under contract for that time.
Employees at the City University of New York (CUNY) have been without a contract for over five years, despite the fact that most other state workers have not only settled their contracts but are actually preparing to negotiate the next round of agreements. The major hold up is a demand by Governor Andrew Cuomo that any salary increases for CUNY employees come out of the University’s operating budget – in essence, a major cutback in CUNY funding.
So in the event that these cuts continue, as mentioned by CUNY Chancellor James Milliken to the Legislature, some campuses would have to close entirely. Additionally, in the event that these efficiencies are not found, CUNY students can face a 50% tuition increase, to $9,500 a year, as noted in the Daily Op-Ed.
-Alex S. Vitale is associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and author of City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics. He is senior policy adviser to the Police Reform Organizing Project and serves on the New York State Advisory Committee to the US Civil Rights Commission. Said: “Perhaps the governor, who like his father was a product of parochial and private schools, fails to appreciate the central importance of CUNY for communities of color and immigrants. CUNY, as much as any other government institution, has been a central force in the building of the middle class and the integration of immigrants into the mainstream of society. It’s time that he treats funding for CUNY as the social justice issue it is, rather than a punching bag in his fight with the mayor”.
We hope Governor Cuomo acts accordingly and supports CUNY, because CUNY supports so many men and women by providing an educational platform in which many would otherwise not be able to have or afford, especially people of color, Hispanics, immigrants and the children of immigrants. CUNY is and has been an educational training ground for many current and future leaders, who by the way are contributing and giving back in many ways to this City and the America. As the largest educational institution in the country, the state and Governor Cuomo should very much support CUNY on the State budget side. It’s the right and smart thing to do.