Protestors Demand Transparency about State’s 20% “Withholding” of CUNY Funding and CUNY’s Use of CARES Act Funding
Faculty and staff represented by the Professional Staff Congress rallied today online and in front of Hunter College demanding an end to the State’s divestment in the City University of New York. Hunter College and CUNY were starved of resources before the COVID-19 Recession. Dozens of CUNY faculty and staff have died in the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, after most classes and services have been shifted online to protect public health, CUNY workers and students are facing more cuts and uncertainty as the State withholds funding allocated in the enacted budget to CUNY.
2900 adjunct instructors at CUNY colleges have already been laid off. College Assistants, adjunct College Laboratory Technicians, cafeteria workers and other staff have lost jobs or had their hours cut. Online class sizes are increasing at a time when students need more—not less—individual attention and mentorship.
In May, CUNY signed an agreement to provide to the union with “detailed college budget information, information about proposed cuts, information about State and City fiscal situations and enrollment projections.” Hunter College, like many other CUNY colleges, has failed to meet its legal obligation to provide this budget information. Hunter professors want to know how CUNY is spending $132 million in Federal CARES Act funding allocated by Congress for “institutional support” ($9.5 million for Hunter). And they want to know what CUNY management, the Board of Trustees and NYS legislators are doing to stop the 20% withholding from becoming a permanent, crippling budget cut.
Rosq Squillacote, PSC Vice President for Part-Time Personnel: "CUNY's callous response to the COVID pandemic included laying off thousands of adjuncts and part-time workers and cutting classes from many more, resulting in a dramatic loss of income and, for many people, a loss of health insurance. To lose work, income, and health insurance during a global pandemic creates a personal crisis for the people who make CUNY what it is. The threat of economic precarity is always close with adjuncts, but CUNY's decision to not use the CARES Act money to retain jobs has made that precarity all the worse. It also takes away resources from CUNY's students, who, as working class people of color in NYC, are already particularly vulnerable to the COVID crisis."
Amy Jeu, College Laboratory Technician at Hunter College: "In a pandemic, it's unconscionable for CUNY to continue pressuring employees to report to campus for in-person work without providing us with the necessary PPE and protocols to ensure we are working in a healthy and safe environment. College Laboratory Technicians and Higher Education Officers are among the frontline workers being phased into CUNY campuses to support University operations during this period of remote instruction.”
Jennifer Gaboury, Acting Hunter College Chapter Chair of the PSC CUNY: “We need transparency in budgets across CUNY – and it’s a particularly poor situation here at Hunter College where administrators regularly make fiscal reports to governing bodies like our College Senate with any documents or figures put in front of us. There’s no legitimacy in that. Chancellor Matos Rodriguez signed an agreement to provide budget information. We then made those requests and he supplied nothing. The CUNY administration is restricting the use of CARES Act money to only let it be used in particular circumstances and that's happening while cuts are being made that are hurting students, staff, and faculty. At Hunter College, President Jennifer Raab has lamented that tuition hikes haven’t gone into effect because that’s their answer -- resolving this crisis on the backs of poor and middle class people instead of the ultra-rich.”