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PSC Rally across the Brooklyn Bridge

Home » Clarion » 2011 » June 2011 » 'I want my CUNY back'

'I want my CUNY back'


At the PSC’s May 5 rally, Scott Dexter, union chapter chair at Brooklyn College, seemed to speak for many of those who attended when he addressed the crowd.


I want my CUNY back.

When I came here to teach in 1998, fresh out of grad school, fresh out of the Midwest, I was deeply inspired to become part of this institution, working with faculty and staff dedicated to nurturing working-class people in this city. I quickly learned that CUNY is not easy, that its mission is always threatened. And I learned how to survive, more or less, in an atmosphere that always feels just a little toxic.

But this week I find myself more enraged and concerned about CUNY’s possible future than I have been at any point in the past 13 years. Our mission, our students and our students’ futures are being directly assaulted by the very people who are supposed to be the stewards of this university and the hope it represents.


Our governor and our mayor are hell-bent on coddling the wealthiest New Yorkers, even as CUNY and other structures that create new economic opportunity are crumbling before their eyes. Our chancellor’s response to the starvation of CUNY is to try to rip control over academic policy away from faculty and give it to his merry band of bureaucrats….Don’t even get me started about our trustees.

I want my CUNY back, and that’s why I’m here right now. We need a banner under which all of us who want CUNY restored can rally, and that banner is the PSC’s banner.

The PSC demands that we find new and better ways to value the professional staff, like our colleagues who help students navigate mind-numbing financial aid regulations [so] students can focus on their studies. My CUNY, our CUNY, needs a way for Higher Education Officers to advance.


The PSC demands that the university reciprocate the dedication of our contingent faculty to our students by paying them equitably and offering job security for long serving adjuncts. Our CUNY needs equity for adjuncts.

The PSC demands that the university reduce the teaching loads of the full-time faculty so that we can focus on the kind of effective pedagogy that we know is key to our students’ success. My CUNY, our CUNY, needs teaching loads that support our mission.

We are here today because we feel the urgent need to defend our students and to defend the very real meaning of CUNY to this city. We are here because we know this has to be a shared struggle, that our students’ success depends on our success. We are here because we want our CUNY back. So let’s go take it back.

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