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Ad Campaign–CUNY Must Do Better

Jun 17, 2020

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Professional Staff Congress Ad Campaign Says “CUNY Must Do Better” for Students and Communities of Color—and for Workers

PSC Demands: No Cuts to Courses, No Layoffs!

New York, NY – Under threat of deep City and State budget cuts with just two weeks remaining before possible mass layoffs of CUNY adjuncts, the union representing over 30,000 CUNY faculty and staff has launched its second ad campaign in two months demanding “No Cuts. No Layoffs” for the already underfunded university system.

The ad, set to run on NYC cable stations and social media, takes a stand for investing in CUNY as an investment in New York’s communities of color in this “moment of reckoning,” as the ad says.

“In this moment when New York should be investing more in institutions that serve communities of color, the City University of New York plans to cut thousands of classes—and lay off thousands of adjunct faculty and part-time workers,” the ad says.

Almost 80% of CUNY undergraduates are people of color, and 60% have annual family incomes below $30,000. Most live in the NYC communities with the highest rates of job loss and COVID-19 illness and death.

Across the country, Americans are demanding investment in Black communities and other communities of color to undo systemic racism. One hundred ninety thousand students of color turned to CUNY this year, seeking intellectual fulfillment and a chance at a better life. The University leads the nation in empowering students to achieve economic mobility, even after years of public disinvestment.

CUNY’s budget remains largely stable, but the current State budget gives Governor Cuomo the authority to cut the State budget unilaterally in response to declining revenues. The State funding cuts applied to CUNY could be as high as $95 million. Mayor de Blasio has proposed $31.6 million in cuts to CUNY in the next fiscal year.

Congress allocated $132 million in CARES Act money to CUNY colleges for institutional needs as a result of coronavirus. The CARES Act requires colleges that receive funding to make every effort to keep workers on payroll during the pandemic, yet CUNY colleges have announced plans to reduce course offerings by as much as 35% and lay off thousands of adjunct faculty and other contingent staff. Adjuncts teach more than half the courses at CUNY.

The course cuts and layoffs would mean that students lose access to mentors, professors and the courses they need to graduate. Even before the cuts, one-third of CUNY students could not register for at least one course, and of those almost half could not register for a course needed for their major.

“When millions of Americans are crying out for an end to systemic racism and investment into areas like education, the CUNY administration has the opportunity to heed that call and take a stand for justice,” said Barbara Bowen, President of the Professional Staff Congress. “Instead, CUNY is calling for course reductions and mass layoffs that will reinforce racist inequality in higher education. The message is simple: don’t fail New York in this decisive historical moment, CUNY.”

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