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Home » Issues » Testimony from Board of Trustees Hearing October 16, 2023

Testimony from Board of Trustees Hearing October 16, 2023

The CUNY community got a late Friday surprise when the Board of Trustees decided at the last minute to make its latest public hearing an entirely online event. The fully online “hearing” held Monday, 10/16 had no online broadcast, no way for the public to hear testimony. It was a sham.

More than 70 PSC members had planned to testify in-person or turnout in support of our union’s demands for fair contract and increased funding for CUNY colleges. The change was announced without explanation, in violation of the state Open Meetings Law.

PSC members rallied, despite the shift online. Dozens gathered in the new Union Hall to deliver their testimony as part of a collective, while others who couldn’t change plans logged on to testify from home.

Testimony from Board of Trustees Hearing, October 16, 2023

James Davis, PSC President: What are we told when we demand raises that meet inflation? We are told by the same administrators whom this board handsomely rewarded with raises, that we need to be “realistic.” Trustees, that’s contemptuous of the faculty and the staff who keep this university running and we expect better.

Penny Lewis, PSC Secretary: Your bargaining agenda puts forward a broad attack on job security. We’re not surprised when corporations like Amazon or right wing Republicans decry such protections, but for the politically appointed Board of Trustees of the City University of New York to seek out erosions of tenure, weaker job protections for full time staff and expanded contingency for part timers goes against what New Yorkers want to see and the clear best interest of our university and students. (Read Penny Lewis’ full testimony)

Photo of Andrea Vasquez

Andrea Vásquez, PSC First Vice President: This agenda may be value driven, but it is not values driven. It reflects neither the value of quality education for masses of New Yorkers who have come to expect this for more than 150 years, nor the value of the faculty and staff who have helped to make futures for those generations of poor, immigrant, people of color, and working-class New Yorkers. (Read Andrea Vásquez’ full testimony)

Felicia Wharton, PSC Treasurer: No matter the zip code of a campus, the faculty, staff, and students deserve to work and learn in a healthy environment. Protecting members and students is a legal and moral imperative and a human right. We are all stakeholders in the campuses we work in and teach in.

Kevin Adams, Medgar Evers College: Medgar Evers College cannot thrive when decisions about education infrastructure investments chronically have been made under uncoordinated and decentralized models, driven by ad hoc needs and limited funding availability, rather than a strategic approach that addresses both the short term and long-term needs. (Read Kevin Adam’s full testimony)

Kristina Baines, Guttman Community College: I’m speaking to you today to share the urgent need for real raises as part of a fair contract. Raises that respect our faculty, staff, and–most importantly–that send a message to our students that their education is just as valuable as those at expensive private colleges because they are supported by educators who are just as valuable and who are able to support themselves and their families in this incredibly expensive city.

Sarah Chinn, Hunter College: How do we share with our students our excitement about the work we do, when–unlike many in our peer institutions–we have no research budgets? At Hunter, our tenure requirements are on the same level as elite liberal arts institutions, with a higher teaching load, less money, fewer resources. Our students deserve more. By undervaluing CUNY faculty, you cheat our students. Our working conditions are their learning conditions. (Read Sarah Chinn’s full testimony)

Jessie Daniels, Hunter College: This institution survives by strip mining idealism…The people with the power to control the budget at CUNY are balancing your books on our backs. You count on our idealism about the mission of CUNY to exploit our good will and pay the faculty paltry sums even as we’ve watched the CUNY administration enrich itself with pay raises of $90,000 on top of already existing six-figure salaries. (Read Jessie Daniel’s full testimony)

Photo of Susan DiRaimo

Susan DiRaimo, Lehman College: I am an Adjunct with a Full-Time teaching load with terrible pay. I make 45,000 dollars a year after teaching for many years. I write recommendations for students, I advise students. I even have to counsel students. I mark papers many hours a day. I have gone to contract negotiations and they are very distressing. CUNY management needs to agree to give Adjuncts the pay, job security, benefits and full time lines that Adjuncts deserve. (Read Susan DiRaimo’s full testimony)

Photo of Joseph Entin taken from the Brooklyn College website

Joseph Entin, Brooklyn College: CUNY students are not only people who need good jobs; they are artists, parents, citizens, thinkers of the highest order. They deserve nothing less than the best… For the sake of our students and their potential and manifest brilliance, I urge you to find or fight for the funding to make CUNY the jewel it could be. (Read Joseph Entin’s full testimony)

Jennifer Gaboury, Hunter College: We are tired of subsidizing what you refuse to give us…I want you to demand more for the City and the State and I want you to give us what we deserve, and not tell us the reasons why we should continue to eat crumbs off the floor.

Jean Grassman, School of Public Health: I urge you to fight for funding, as we at the PSC will, to correct these conditions. The focus on improving working conditions comes with many levels of benefits – not only does it reduce the burden of illness and injury for our members but also permits us to better do the work that we love at CUNY. (Read Jean Grassman’s full testimony)

Elizabeth Hovey, John Jay College: Trustees need to know that an ambition of CUNY–to have a legitimate Climate Center for the pursuit of Environmental Justice and Sustainability–is endangered by the structural problem of adjuncts lacking genuine power in programs. Adjuncts, despite undeniable strengths and contributions, are being treated as “less than” others, and the coming losses hurt students. (Read Elizabeth Hovey’s full testimony)

Jack Kenigsberg, Hunter College: This year, compared to last year, we suffered a 20% cut to our college assistant budget–our tutoring budget. Without the money to pay for writing tutors, we can only offer 135 hours of tutoring per week. That is 140 students every single week that we cannot help. It is the responsibility of the Board to undo the mess it helped to create, and to make sure that critical student support services like the Rockowitz Writing Center at Hunter College have the tutoring and administrative budgets they need to help our students succeed. (Read Jack Kenigsberg’s full testimony)

Photo of Chad Kidd

Chad Kidd, City College: I come to you in a spirit of partnership with a grave concern about CUNY’s future. We need greater diversity among the tenure or professor-line faculty…The City College Philosophy department has, at present, only one female tenure-line faculty. And all of our tenure-line faculty are white. This is due largely to budget austerity, which has prevented all tenure-line searches to replace tenure lines lost for the past 8 years…Help us create a more equitable CUNY by allocating much more money to tenure-line hires. It is necessary for the future of CUNY, and for the success of our amazing students!  (Read Chad Kidd’s full testimony)

Maudry-Beverley Lashley, Medgar Evers College: Medgar plays an important role within CUNY. Colleagues, we are all in freefall now. Our student enrollment has not been this low since the 1970s, the Ramsey administration offers no solutions other than further cuts under the [Vacancy Review Board] banner… Our faculty, our staff, and students deserve a competent administration, they deserve a competent president who will seek outside funding and who will increase our enrollment.

Esther Llamas, Medgar Evers College: I ask the Board of Trustees to consider creating a clearer framework around the reclassification process requiring Reclassification Screening Committees to provide more transparency with their processes, such as providing timelines, and constructive rationale for acceptance or denial. Such transparency would only strengthen and validate the body and ensure an equitable and fair process is experienced by ALL. (Read Esther Llamas’ full testimony)

Photo of Marcia Newfield

Marcia Newfield, Borough of Manhattan College Retiree: What is it like to be invisible? From the point of view of someone who taught for almost 30 years (1988-2015) at BMCC as an adjunct lecturer, I am here to tell you, it is very undermining. As a retired adjunct, I am not entitled to any health insurance coverage so in all the recent dialogue about retiree health insurance upsets, there is no category for me, a retired adjunct. Bills have been introduced to implement [a national health care plan] in the NY State legislature for the past several years with increasing support. The Board of Trustees has the power to throw its influence behind this solution. (Read Marcia Newfield’s full testimony)

Kathleen Offenholley, Borough of Manhattan Community College: My amazing students deserve better…You need to support us so that we can support the students. From everything I’ve heard from the Board of Trustees thus far, I am really unimpressed by your level of support, starting with this sham of a meeting. What kind of public meeting is held on tiny, little cameras in private?! Who knows where you are hearing us, but it’s not a public meeting. IT’S A SHAM!!

Photo of Nancy Romer

Nancy Romer, Brooklyn College Retiree: Our excellent part-time faculty need to have the stability of long-term appointments with decent salaries so that they can fully participate in this transmission of knowledge and support at CUNY…Trustees, the support you give to our adjunct faculty, their job security, working conditions, economic stability, are gifts to our students, their families, their communities and to our city. Let’s not educate our students on the backs of low-paid, precarious labor, but through great relationships to help them achieve their dreams. (Read Nancy Romer’s full testimony)

Evan Rothman, Graduate Center: In addition to these terrible conditions across the system for us as grad workers, those of use who have funding–and I say have funding because there’s currently a two-tiered system where only some of us have full funding–but even those that do are only at $30,000 this year and that is really not nearly enough for what it costs to live in New York City. A living wage for a single adult in this city is $53,000 according to the MIT living wage calculator and that’s the bare minimum that we need.

Lynne Turner, LaGuardia Community College: We have demands for adjuncts and part-timers, we have put forward demands to make Appendix E on the multi-year appointments permanent within the contract to expand that and make it possible for people to get those appointments within 3-years…and 600 conversion lines…Please make sure that there is no longer the intent to roll back Appendix E, and instead to expand it.







Published: October 20, 2023 | Last Modified: October 23, 2023

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