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Home » Clarion » 2024 » June 2024 » PSC to council: Fix our buildings

PSC to council: Fix our buildings

Panel hears safety concernsBy Ari Paul

Rodents at York College. Mold at City Tech. Lack of proper ventilation at Hostos Community College. Endless waits for elevators at Baruch College. Flooding at Bronx Community College.

Ceiling damage at York College (Photo Credit: Freya Pritchard)

These are just some of the maintenance and safety issues on CUNY campuses that PSC members and our students are forced to face on a regular basis. On April 17, PSC members addressed these concerns at a hearing of the City Council’s Higher Education Committee.

IMPROVEMENTS?

Speaking for the CUNY administration, Mohamed Attalla, the vice chancellor of facilities planning, construction and management, told the committee that his “charge has been to improve our capital planning and construction processes, enhance the capacity of the team and develop a plan for a State of Good Repair.” He boasted of the creation of a Project Management Office, and noted that “we’ve improved our capabilities to procure our services more efficiently.”

Nice words, but for CUNY faculty and staff, the situation is dire. At the CUNY Board of Trustees hearing at the City Council on April 1 (see story, pages 5–8), Carole Harris, PSC chapter chair at City Tech, spoke about how mold problems at the school have persisted for years.

DAMAGE ABOUNDS

Fabiola Salek, the department chair of world languages, literature and humanities at York College, told the City Council that “since Fall 2019, our campus has lacked a cafeteria, depriving students of a vital resource for sustenance and community engagement,” and she spoke to the rodent issue: “The presence of rodents such as squirrels and raccoons in the library undermines a conducive learning environment. Mice droppings have been observed over the years in all buildings.”

Salek further described the poor conditions at York: “Elevators and electrical stairs are constantly in a state of disrepair, ” adding that “persistent flooding due to roof damage, with leaks, notably in the library, has resulted in water-stained and missing ceiling tiles, raising concerns about mold growth and structural integrity.”

Peter Kolozi, the PSC chair at BCC, took this point further, saying, “According to CUNY’s own recent Facility Condition Assessment, only 8% of CUNY buildings are ‘in a state of good repair.’ That’s only 24 out of 300 buildings. In baseball terms, 24 of 300 gets you a batting average of .08. An average like that does not land you in the Hall of Fame or any palace of baseball royalty, it lands in the hall of shame.”

MORE FUNDING

The PSC is pushing the city to increased funding for CUNY in the next budget agreement. The city provides the bulk of funding to the city’s two-year colleges. Héctor Batista, CUNY’s executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer, told the panel that given CUNY’s infrastructural needs, CUNY needs about $200 million to address issues such as these in community colleges. “Over the past five years, CUNY has received an average of $64 million for both senior and community colleges, which includes only $29 million for community colleges per year in the city capital funds, which is only about .3% of the estimated replacement value of the facilities.”

While Kolozi noted that his campus has made progress in improving the infrastructure, more needs to be done to fix CUNY overall, as he still passes leaky ceilings and windows that are so old they can’t be opened.

“Investing in CUNY facilities and in staffing to relieve the crisis is an opportunity to rebuild, and in the process, foster the real democratic, inclusive, socially conscious, proud city that we all belong to,” he said.


Published: May 19, 2024 | Last Modified: May 21, 2024

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