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A message from President James Davis

Opposing New Budget Cuts at 9 CUNY Colleges

Sent January 9 to PSC members at BMCC, Brooklyn College, College of Staten Island, John Jay College, Kingsborough CC, New York City  College of Technology,  Queens College, School of Professional Studies and York College

Dear Colleagues:

As you may know, your campus was recently identified as one of nine “colleges of concern” by the CUNY administration. This means your college has been tasked with making additional cuts to its Fiscal Year 2024 budget, above and beyond those already demanded, in order to help save the university $128 million this year, with additional cuts planned for Fiscal Year 2025. Class cancellations and adjunct layoffs, reductions to course offerings and increased enrollment caps, non-replacement of vacant staff positions, cuts to temporary staff and OTPS budgets – these are the cuts we are hearing about so far. The PSC principal officers met last week with the chapter chairs from affected colleges. These colleges are each alleged to have a “structural deficit” of 5% or greater, insufficient reserves, and an enrollment projection that fails to keep pace with revenue needs. We are concerned that the administration is sending the affected colleges into a tailspin of student and staff attrition from which they will not soon recover, further eroding academic quality and morale. Please read this message to learn what the PSC is doing to oppose these cuts and fight for the budgets our colleges need, and what you can do as a PSC member in this critical moment. 


Incredibly, CUNY also just reduced its preliminary state budget request, public since June, cutting over $180 million from necessary programs and initiatives they had previously sought to support. At the city level, CUNY removed a request to restore $61.5 million in operating funds that have been slashed in the mayor’s Program to Eliminate the Gap. The PSC has been the loudest voice in the city opposing Mayor Adams’ unrelenting austerity towards the university, and the PSC has consistently, over decades, called for needed investments at the state and city levels. The Chancellor, Board of Trustees, and Presidents have rarely if ever objected to proposed cuts, and have rarely put forward budget requests that would meet our needs–and they have not done so this year with the request the Board approved on December 18. 

The CUNY administration cannot have it both ways –  they cannot decry “structural deficits” across the system and on your campus while remaining silent in the face of cuts. The administration cannot subject students, faculty, and staff to intensified austerity while declining to seek the allocations to overcome the twin crises of student retention and understaffing caused by decades of underinvestment and deepened by the COVID pandemic. The administration should be trumpeting our needs, creatively using the remaining $105 million in federal stimulus funds, and calling directly for investments, but instead they are worsening ruthless conditions. 

The vast majority of CUNY campuses have turned a corner on enrollment and begun to reverse the declines of the pandemic. The number of Fall 2024 applications for first-time students is higher than it has been in decades. The CUNY Reconnect program alone has brought tens of thousands of returning students back to campus to complete their degrees. What is in store for these students when they enter our campuses, labs, libraries, and classrooms? How can an administration that reduces its Facilities Maintenance and Enhancements budget request by two-thirds between June and December 2023 justify the compounded college budget cuts at the same time? How can an administration that reduces its request for Enrollment and Retention initiatives from $20 million in new aid in the June preliminary budget document to $6.7 million in the final budget request justify the compounded cuts to college budgets at the same time?


Students, faculty, and staff have already paid a steep price for the disinvestment in our colleges, and relentless cuts and a hiring freeze have already created a staffing crisis.


CUNY needs more operating aid, but if the administration will not stand up and say so – if they choose instead to cannibalize the colleges’ budgets – then we must condemn the strategy they are pursuing as a choice. It is not merely an inexorable result of “structural deficits” but a decision about their funding challenges. That decision has already harmed our college communities, and if it continues, it will wreak further havoc this spring and beyond. The PSC’s position is clear: the CUNY administration should reverse the new cuts, use all available federal stimulus funds to close the immediate budget gaps, eliminate the central Vacancy Review Board and thaw the hiring freeze, and resubmit a budget request to Albany and City Hall that meets the actual needs of CUNY students, faculty, and staff.


As PSC members, you can help to hold the administration accountable and change course. 

  • Tell your chapter chair how these punitive budget cuts prevent your department, program, or office from meeting students’ needs and those of the faculty and staff.
  • Tell your college president to advocate publicly and forcefully for new state and city funding. 
  • Record a brief video for social media about how your college changes students’ lives, and how funding cuts continue to undermine the important work you and your colleagues do. You can post the video yourself using the hashtags #NewDeal4CUNY, #CareNotCuts and #APeoplesCUNY, or you can email Organizing Director Rico Doan at [email protected] and we’ll dispatch a staff organizer to collect a cell phone video of your statement.  
  • Attend a PSC press conference about these harmful new cuts on Friday, January 19, at 10 AM at Borough of Manhattan Community College. RSVP here for the press conference.
  • Participate in the PSC’s budget campaign to drive additional operating aid from the state and city into our colleges without raising student tuition.


We have shown that when we organize, PSC members can defeat the administration’s harmful plans and achieve real, lasting gains for our students and our academic programs. Let’s take this opportunity to let the public and elected officials know why CUNY’s approach to the budget is misguided and dangerous, and what’s needed to do our jobs effectively.


In solidarity,


James Davis, President

Published: January 9, 2024

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