Protestors Rally at Brooklyn College, March to College President’s Home to Demand that CUNY #FreeTheFunds and Address Campus Racism

Updated: June 1, 2021
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Brooklyn College Refuses To Release A Plan for its $58.6 Million in COVID Stimulus

Brooklyn, NY-- Faculty, staff and students called out Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson today for failing to adequately address racism faced by students and faculty and for her failure to release a plan for the $58.6 million in COVID relief funding allocated to Brooklyn College. During a rally at the gates of Brooklyn College and a march to Anderson’s home in Prospect Park South, the protestors demanded that Brooklyn College use the stimulus money Congress allocated to CUNY for institutional pandemic relief. Waving signs that said “#FreeTheFunds” and balloons imprinted with the likeness of CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez, they called on Anderson and the Chancellor to spend the federal money to protect health and safety on campus and to rehire laid-off adjuncts so departments can reduce class-sizes and increase course offerings.

Brooklyn College has been allocated $58.6 million in institutional stimulus aid and another $44.8 million for direct aid to students. The funding is part of a total $1.5 billion that has been allocated to CUNY colleges for institutional needs related to COVID-19 and for direct aid to CUNY students (see college-by-college allocations and a graphic about Brooklyn College’s stimulus). While CUNY has distributed $236 million in student aid, the University has disclosed only $51 million in institutional spending. Brooklyn College has released no plans for how the institutional portion of its federal funds will be used. Faculty, staff, and students are eager to see the money used to rehire 180 laid-off adjuncts and to protect the quality of education at Brooklyn College.

“There is no longer any excuse to increase class size for Brooklyn College students and trim our offerings. Whether in-person or remote, class size should return to pre-pandemic levels, if not lower, so that students can learn and instructors can teach more effectively. The College's retention and graduation rates will climb. The funds are available now to do that, and to hire any additional instructors and professional staff required to support these core educational objectives. The College is also now in a position to support faculty researchers, whose labs and programs were derailed by the pandemic, and whose work contributes directly to the public good,” said James Davis, newly elected president of the Professional Staff Congress and former chair of the PSC chapter at Brooklyn College.

Before marching to the home of Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson, the protestors also demanded funding for full-time faculty for the College’s Puerto Rican & Latino Studies and Africana Studies departments and for an outside consultant to facilitate dialogue and strategy to address racism and Anti-Blackness on campus. They also pushed for the creation of an Asian American Studies department.

“We need President Anderson to understand that racism is structural; it’s also economic. Before the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd we stressed resources and support to address the paucity of Black faculty on campus. More than a year later we have not seen one tangible step in the right direction. In fact, withholding resources is stepping backwards. You can’t be anti-racist without bold leadership and challenging austerity,” said Lawrence Johnson, Assistant Professor of Sociology and member of the Anti-Racist Coalition at Brooklyn College.