Through his Preliminary Budget and subsequent reductions, Mayor Bloomberg proposes $63.1 million in cuts and unfunded mandatory expense increases for CUNY community colleges. His budget also provides no funds for Vallone Scholarships, the City’s merit-based financial aid program, and no funds for CUNY programs that were funded with restorations made by the City Council last year, such as the Black Male Initiative.
Arthurine DeSola testifying.
On March 18th, PSC Secretary Arthurine DeSola testified before the Higher Education Committee of the New York City Council to call for full restoration of City funding for community colleges and other CUNY programs and initiatives. She also urged the New York City Council to join the PSC in pressing the Legislature to pursue progressive revenue raisers (e.g. continuation of the Personal Income Tax surcharge on higher earners) that will balance the state budget without targeting CUNY students and millions of other ordinary New Yorkers.
Read Arthurine’s Testimony here.
Three other PSC members testified at the hearing: Joyce Moorman, PSC chapter chair at Borough of Manhattan Community College; Lorraine Cohen, chapter chair at LaGuardia Community College; and Heidi Lopez, who runs Kingsborough Community College’s Single Stop Program, which provides a one stop center to help students access public benefits such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, TANF and workforce development programs.
An excerpt from Joyce Moorman’s (BMCC) testimony:
“I want to thank the City Council for not letting the full mid-year cut go through. It’s made a big difference at BMCC where the college was poised to lay-off part-time adjunct faculty, cut the number of classes and increase class-size for those that remain. But it’s not accurate to say that the remaining cuts didn’t hurt. At BMCC security guards, clerical staff and building and grounds personnel have been laid-off. This means that the buildings aren’t open on holidays – yes, faculty complain that they can’t get to their offices to work on holidays because that’s the only way we can keep up with our workload and provide our students with what they need. And the buildings aren’t secure. Last week two female students were assaulted in one of the bathrooms on campus. In my piano class, the pianos with broken wires aren’t fixed for months on end because there isn’t money for skilled workers or for the wire. The audio equipment for my digital music course malfunctions so often it undermines my teaching.”
An excerpt from Lorraine Cohen’s(LaGuardia) testimony:
“Given the way that the budgets have been constructed both by the Mayor and the Governor over many years, one cannot help but draw the conclusion that somehow our students are seen as undeserving of the kind of investment that folks would want if they were sending their children to school…
We claim to be a society based on a principle of equal opportunity but, given the budget, I can’t help but think that investing in our students is really not a priority…This is a system for reproducing class and race and gender hierarchies. The sense that our students don’t really need to compete for the best jobs, or need to get the best education, is to me what is suggested by the continuation of disinvesting in their education…
If you walk in the doors of LaGuardia you will see an extraordinary diversity of ethnicity, race gender—students from all over the world. At the elevators you will be waiting five minutes because of the number of students, at the library you’ll see a line of 50-100 students at 9 o’clock in the morning trying to get access to a computer so that they can do their research. If you go to the admissions office, you will see lines of students waiting to be registered because professional staff have not been replaced…You will see faculty with remedial classes that are way over the suggested limits of professional association like the Modern language Association. I teach sociology and my class size is 38.”
Heidi Lopez testifying,
An excerpt from Heidi Lopez’s (Kingsborough) testimony:
“My job gives me the opportunity to see how students struggle in this economy – with lay-offs, cuts in services… So many did everything right only to find out they have to go back to school for an Associate’s Degree in a new field, because their BA was not enough to get a job in this market. These budget cuts are racist, classist and sexist to the 80% of CUNY students of color – especially Black men of color. We need to keep the tax on the wealthy. We need ASAP, BMI and Vallone Scholarships.”