By John Tarleton, Clarion
The Board of Trustees voted Monday to approve a new set of salary ranges that would dramatically increase the maximum salaries that can be paid to top administrators at CUNY while a group of about 20 student protesters who objected to the potential pay hikes was barred from entering the meeting.
While Chancellor Matthew Goldstein asked the Board to leave the salary range that would apply to him out of the resolution, upper limits for other University-wide administrators received boosts of up to 41%, while maximum pay for CUNY college presidents was raised by 23% to 29%, depending on the institution. As the resolution was amended, the chancellor’s pay would be left to the discretion of the Board.
PSC President Barbara Bowen spoke against the changes to CUNY’s Executive Compensation Plan (ECP) at the board’s public hearing on June 18: “If you pass this increase in salary ranges, do not come to [the union] with an economic offer for anything but competitive raises for faculty and staff,” she told trustees. “And do not go to the students again and demand hundreds more dollars in tuition.”
The Board’s move followed its vote in November to increase tuition by more than 30% over the next five years, a fact that was not lost on student protesters.
“It’s outrageous,” said Moises Delgado, a senior at Lehman who has taken out $6,000 in student loans since returning to school in 2010. “I think it exposes the whole lie that they need to raise tuition because they have no money.”
“The first thing they do when they get extra money from tuition increases is raise their own salaries,” added Mona Khalil, a Baruch senior who said she was worried that her younger brother would not be able to afford to go to CUNY after he completes high school next year.
Sandra May Flowers, student government president at HCC, also said the potential pay raises were excessive, noting that she was still trying to pay off $650 in bills she owed from last semester while coping with being laid off from her job as a medical assistant two weeks ago. Flowers is currently performing in Washington Square Park and the West Fourth St. subway station to make money.
“I’m going to be singing my heart out,” said Flowers who is studying to become a nurse.
Student protesters rallied outside Baruch’s Vertical Campus and then were allowed to enter the building in pairs. Only a handful of students were allowed to enter the 14th floor conference room where the Trustees were meeting before they were told there was no more space for them though the meeting room was far from full. When a phalanx of CUNY peace officers began pushing the student protesters down a narrow hallway toward waiting elevators, cries of “Abolish the Board of Trustees!” could be heard inside the meeting. A couple of minutes later the students found themselves ejected back out onto the sidewalk where their protest began.
“It’s not fair,” said Jesse Franklin, a student at College of Staten Island. “They’re becoming millionaires off our education.”