CUNY receives modest restorations in the final City budget
On Wednesday morning, the City Council passed a budget that fell short of restoring necessary funding for CUNY community colleges and student aid. Thanks to PSC’s advocacy, the Council added $25.25 million to the Mayor’s proposed allocation for CUNY community college operating support. That amount, however, barely exceeds the restoration that state law obligates the city to provide. While this is an increase over the Mayor’s proposed budget, it does little to defray the cost of growing enrollments, new community college expenses and other inflationary costs. Funding for Vallone Scholarships, the City’s merit-based financial aid program, was also eliminated.
“While we recognize there were some limitations on what the Council could do, the budget passed this morning will reduce access to CUNY for some of the neediest students and will undermine quality of education,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen. “When the City has a budget surplus, it is illogical and unacceptable to impose cuts on CUNY and other services for the poor and middle class. We will continue to oppose the artificial austerity of New York budgets.”
Trustees endorse flawed transfer policy
Monday evening, the CUNY Board of Trustees voted to overhaul general education requirements across CUNY’s 23 campuses to create a new transfer policy. PSC joined the University Faculty Senate in opposing the measure because it undermines the principle of shared university governance.
“CUNY’s new transfer policy violates both the spirit and letter of the CUNY Bylaws because it sets up an alternative to the University Faculty Senate on a matter of curriculum,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen. “It also fails to address barriers to transfer that arise from shortfalls in CUNY’s IT infrastructure and underinvestment in student advisement.”
Tuition hikes and maintenance of effort language in Albany’s “Big Ugly”
In the waning hours of the state legislative session, the legislature authorized CUNY and SUNY to increase senior college tuition by up to $300 per year for the next five years. (So far, the CUNY Trustees have approved a senior college tuition hike of $230 for 2011-2012. This legislation would allow them to increase tuition by another $70.) Embedded in the tuition hike authorization bill was language that would require the state to maintain funding for CUNY’s operating support, including fringe benefits, at a level that meets or exceeds CUNY’s allocation in the prior state fiscal year unless the governor declares a state of “fiscal emergency.” Tuition “credits” that would offset the annual hikes for some low-income students were also established.
“We commend the legislative leaders and the governor for recognizing the need to stabilize funding for CUNY and SUNY, but we object to the annual tuition increases on which the deal is built,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen when the framework of the tuition deal was made public. “CUNY needs long-term public investment. Instead of turning low- and middle-income students into cash machines, New York should continue the millionaires’ tax so the state can fund CUNY without threatening students’ opportunity for a better life.”
An historic civil rights victory for same sex couples
The quest for marriage equality in New York has finally been fulfilled. “The PSC congratulates all of the same sex marriage advocates who worked long and hard to pass the Marriage Equality Act,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen. “PSC is committed to advancing the rights of all of our members—of all citizens of the world—and I am proud of the role organized labor played in supporting New York’s same sex marriage effort.”
Activism in their own words: New York City Tech students write about their first rally
Hundreds of CUNY students had their first brush with student activism this year during the campaign to protect CUNY from painful budget cuts and tuition hikes. Four students — Fatima Futa, Alejandra Restrepo, Jayvon Shabazz, and Hasret Yuksel — wrote about their experiences for Carole Harris, assistant professor of English at New York City College of Technology. Their writings are posted on the New York City College of Technology page of the PSC website.