Why isn’t CUNY spending $891 million?

Updated: May 3, 2021
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CUNY colleges have been allocated $1.5 billion in federal stimulus funds, $891 million of which is available for institutional use. But CUNY’s public reporting shows that only $51 million in institutional funding has been spent so far. Find out how much your college has been allocated here—you may be surprised at the amount.

Tomorrow afternoon PSC members will take to the streets to demand that the CUNY administration free the funds and reverse all of last year’s austerity measures. Join us in a protest march tomorrow, Wednesday, April 28, at 4:00 to free the funds!

Together we will demand that CUNY use the federal money now: speed up payment of our 2% raise, rehire all the adjuncts laid off last year, unfreeze job searches, resume HEO reclassifications, restore class size limits, and invest in protecting the health and safety of the CUNY community on campus. Sign up now and see the map of our route!

We’ll start at the Grad Center (365 Fifth Avenue) at 4:00 and make strategic stops along the way—at the governor’s office and the office of the multi-billion-dollar asset management company where the CUNY Chancellor sits on the Board. Our route will trace the connection between austerity, capital and education. And we’ll make our own percussive noise—bring tambourines or drums, or just bang on a can.

Most important, we’ll puncture the myth that the only future for CUNY is continuing austerity.

All last year, we heard the excuse that CUNY had to make cuts because the State budget was “unclear.” That excuse no longer works. The State budget has now been settled. Thanks to the efforts of the PSC and our allies in the legislature, all the State funding withheld last year has been restored and all the governor’s cuts rejected. More than $20 million in new revenue is expected from the first phase of the closure of the TAP Gap. No more fake austerity, CUNY—free the funds!

The federal funds were allocated to the colleges—not to CUNY central—based on the number of students in each college and their financial need. The PSC pushed for the funding and strongly supports the distribution of federal dollars to students; our students are under enormous financial strain. But a maximum of $891 will be available for the institutional costs of this pandemic period, including the cost of keeping employees on payroll. Why has CUNY central spent only $51 million and failed to reverse last year’s austerity?

If you know how your college could spend tens of millions of dollars to reverse the preemptive cuts CUNY rushed to make last year, join the march tomorrow at 4:00. Masks and distancing required, and no wind instruments, please—just lots of chants and percussion!


Barbara Bowen