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Rep. Carolyn Maloney Leads Electeds, Advocates in Calling for State Support of the New Deal for CUNY

Mar 18, 2022

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New York, NY–Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein joined members of the Professional Staff Congress and the CUNY Rising Alliance outside Baruch College today to support the New Deal for CUNY and urge Gov. Hochul and the New York State Legislature to increase funding for CUNY by $500 million this year.

“As a former teacher in New York City’s Welfare Education Program, I know firsthand how free education can change the trajectory of students’ lives for the better. It is also why I, along with so many of my Democratic colleagues, have been fighting on local, state, and federal levels to restore funding levels for higher education across the country. We need The New Deal for CUNY – making CUNY education free as it once was – now more than ever. I want to thank PSC CUNY for their incredible advocacy at the State level in pushing for The New Deal for CUNY because this year, we have an opportunity for New York State to step up and lead the national charge,” said Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (NY-12).

“Education is vital to the future success of our students and to the future vitality of our communities,” added Congressmember Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) in a statement. “Institutions like CUNY provide students, both local and global, the opportunities to become leaders of tomorrow. I’m delighted to join Congresswoman Maloney and our colleagues in support of the New Deal for CUNY to help further our investments in New York’s educational institutions and expand access to opportunities for all students to achieve.”

“Higher education is vital in today’s knowledge-based economy. To help every student succeed in our state’s higher education system, CUNY urgently needs funding to hire more faculty members, invest in mental health resources, and address deteriorating infrastructure. I am proud to stand with Congresswoman Maloney to support a New Deal for CUNY that will bolster affordable and accessible higher education in New York State,” said Congressmember Ritchie Torres (NY-15) in a statement.

“My Father only graduated from college because CUNY was free. Colleges are unaffordable to many low-income New Yorkers. Having the chance to pursue a college degree provides economic opportunity that otherwise may not be available. A free public college education should be a right for every New Yorker. #NewDeal4CUNY will get us closer to that goal of providing a quality education, while giving CUNY schools the financial support and resources they need to serve our students effectively,” said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, one of 75 cosponsors of the New Deal for CUNY legislation.

The majority of Democrats in both the NYS Senate and the Assembly are now co-sponsors of the New Deal for CUNY, legislation (S4461A/A5843) that would transform CUNY by setting minimum faculty- and staff-to student ratios, upgrading crumbling university infrastructure, and making CUNY tuition-free. Click here for more details about the bill, which would cost $1.7 billion to fully implement.

“There are students who are enrolled who are suffering financial hardship–who in some cases are food insecure. We have to make CUNY tuition-free again for them,” said Mark Levine, Manhattan Borough President. “This is not radical. This is the roots of public higher education in this city.”

State legislators took a huge step toward making the New Deal for CUNY a reality earlier this week by proposing an increase of $500 million to fund New Deal for CUNY priorities such as the hiring of more full-time faculty and mental health counselors, pay parity for adjuncts, and in the Senate plan, tuition and fee reduction.

Gov. Hochul has proposed a five-year $1.5 billion program of reinvestment for the state’s university systems. But after decades of underfunding have left CUNY in crisis, unions and advocates are joining the Legislature in calling for an acceleration of the Governor’s plan.

“Federal, state and city officials are here with us calling for $500 million and a New Deal for CUNY because they know that CUNY changes lives and lifts up our communities, our city and our state. The racialized disinvestment in our university can be reversed in this budget, if the Governor and legislature stay aligned in their support for public higher education as a priority for this wealthy state and city,” said James Davis, President of the Professional Staff Congress, the union representing 30,000 CUNY faculty and professional staff.

Per-student state funding for CUNY senior colleges has fallen 18% since the onset of the 2008 Great Recession, adjusting for inflation, and a shocking 38% since the early 1990s. More than 75% of CUNY students are people of color.

The New Deal for CUNY would require a ratio of one mental health counselor for every 1,000 students. Throughout CUNY, the ratio is close to 1 counselor to 2,400 students. Students dealing with trauma, depression, anxiety disorders and even suicidal ideation do not have the support they need. Baruch College, with its 20,000 students, has just four full-time permanent mental health counselors working with trainees and temporary staff. Under the New Deal for CUNY, Baruch would have 20 full-time mental health counselors.

“Without enough staff, we are put in the position of referring out many students for mental health support. We simply don’t have the staffing to sufficiently meet the growing mental health needs of the Baruch students,” said Lynn Kaplan, Associate Director of the Counseling Center at Baruch College.

“The New Deal for CUNY is the right investment for the New Yorkers- where it invests in the human and social capital for the entire state. This bill will transform all communities in New York by providing opportunities and hope to communities that have been traditionally shut out,” said Remysell Salas, Campaign Director for the CUNY Rising Alliance, a growing coalition of student, labor and community groups.
“NYPIRG is here today in support of the New Deal for CUNY. We urge Albany leadership to include full funding in this year’s final budget, including funding toward making tuition free again, to make up for years of budget cuts and austerity that CUNY schools have gone through. The New Deal for CUNY is a critical step toward economic recovery for the state and economic and racial equity for students in New York State,” said Ayesha Schmitt, Higher Education Issue Coordinator for NYPIRG.
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