At a March 10 press conference in front of City Hall, City Council Member Justin Brannan, who represents District 43 in Brooklyn, said that city support for a New Deal for CUNY was the first step in securing more funding for the university.
The chorus calling for the State Legislature to pass the New Deal for CUNY (ND4C) has grown. The New York City Council passed a resolution on March 10 supporting the PSC-backed state-level legislation that would make CUNY free and add full-time faculty and counselors.
“CUNY has been a proven stepping-stone to economic prosperity to these communities despite decades of underfunding cuts and lacking staff-to-student ratios. That’s why I believe now is the time for us to double down on our city’s public higher education system,” said New York City Council Member Justin Brannan, the resolution’s prime sponsor, during a hearing of the City Council’s Committee on Higher Education on February 25. “We can end these challenges and truly equip CUNY to build even further on what it has delivered to New Yorkers for so many decades. It is truly time for something big and bold, and New York needs the New Deal for CUNY.”
At a press conference in City Hall Park before the full City Council voted on the resolution, Brannan said that supporting the resolution was the first step in the fight to push for more funding for CUNY. “The City Council has your back in this fight,” he said. “That is our promise to you.”
State Assembly Member Karines Reyes, the Assembly coauthor of the New Deal for CUNY legislation, told the City Council in February that she knows firsthand how a CUNY education can transform lives. In the 1990s, she emigrated from the Dominican Republic with her mother, who attended LaGuardia Community College and took English and accounting courses. Reyes is a two-time CUNY graduate. She received a bachelor’s degree from Baruch College and a nursing degree from Bronx Community College.
“My borough of the Bronx has nearly 40,000 students and approximately 2,000 faculty that rely on CUNY as their ticket to opportunity. The wonders that a good college education, especially a quality CUNY education, can do in the lives of New Yorkers are present in my own personal story,” Reyes said.
Rebecca Smart, the PSC part-time liaison at Baruch College and an adjunct lecturer at Baruch and the Borough of Manhattan Community College, told the panel how the New Deal for CUNY could be a boon for adjuncts because it would move some adjuncts into full-time positions. When adjuncts aren’t assigned classes to teach, they don’t get paid, Smart said, noting that during her 10 years of teaching on a part-time salary, she has at times had to use welfare programs to support herself.
At the same time, she said, she watched her own daughter forego re-enrollment at Brooklyn College this year because her daughter – and Smart for that matter – could not afford to pay tuition at the same university that Smart has dedicated a decade of teaching to. Free tuition would help families like hers.
“The New Deal for CUNY could be life-changing for myself, for my daughter and for my students who need me to provide time that I just don’t have because of how much work I have to do,” Smart said. “There is part of me that is really mad right now because I have been saying these same things about my living conditions, my working conditions for at least four to five years now. This is not a new story.”
The City Council’s adoption of the resolution, the union said, was a major win in the larger campaign to pass a New Deal for CUNY.