Professional Staff Congress | 61 Broadway, 15th Floor, NYC 10006 | 212-354-1252 |212-PSC-CUNY | email@example.com | AFT Local #2334
BMCC Chapter Leads Resistance to NYC Cuts to CUNY Community Colleges
At department meetings in October 2010, BMCC faculty learned of plans to absorb a $2.8 million cut in city funding by cutting course sections and firing perhaps 150 adjunct faculty in the process while increasing class size and the workload borne by faculty and staff.
The chapter leadership acted quickly, demanding from administrators information and clarity on key decisions and organizing campus-wide discussions on how to mitigate the consequences of any cuts. PSC leadership expanded the effort to all community colleges, activating chapters to seek information and transparency, and carrying out a petition campaign that gathered 3,000 signatures over the course of two weeks.
Under scrutiny from faculty and students, BMCC administrators offered an alternative to the severe cuts initially proposed, which involved increasing enrollment by 900 students, thereby offsetting the funding cut with increased tuition revenue. Meanwhile, the PSC presented City Council allies with the petition signatures and a request to minimize the cuts to CUNY's community colleges.
As a result of this collective response, the present situation is less dire than what was initially threatened. Mayor Bloomberg decided to restore $4 million of funding to the community colleges. At BMCC, almost all of the 15% of sections initially held on standby have been opened, and some departments are hiring additional adjunct faculty, indicating that BMCC administrators anticipate increased enrollment for the Spring semester.
Notably, several BMCC administrators have reiterated that they do not intend for class sizes to increase in the coming semester. This is a familiar reassurance that is contradicted by experience. Therefore, the BMCC chapter is vigilantly monitoring class sizes at the start of the Spring semester, holding administrators accountable to their stated goal that class sizes not increase and further undermine educational quality.
Action by the BMCC chapter and PSC this past Fall helped to avoid the playing out of some worst-case budget-cut scenarios. However, threats of further cuts are on the horizon. The chapter leadership is continuing its recent efforts, planning to anticipate threats in the future and build strength to resist budget cuts that compromise education and support for CUNY students.