The New York City Council has joined the CUNY union calling for a “New Deal.”
Last week, the City Council passed a resolution calling for the state legislature to pass and New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign the New Deal for CUNY, state legislation that would make CUNY tuition-free and set minimum staff to student ratios. The bill is supported by the CUNY Rising Alliance and the Professional Staff Congress – City University of New York (PSC-CUNY), the union that represents all CUNY staff and faculty members.
“For decades, CUNY has not only made higher education possible for New Yorkers of all backgrounds, but it has been a proven stepping stone to economic prosperity. Now is the time for us to double down on this success story!” said Councilman Justin Brannan during a news conference. “Albany must pass the New Deal for CUNY. Together we can prevent further cuts to CUNY, reverse decades of cavalier underfunding, restore a tuition-free university and increase the full-time faculty-to-students ratio. It’s time for something big and bold. New York needs a world-class public higher education system. New York needs the New Deal for CUNY.
“Let’s get it done!”
The news conference consisted of Brannan, Council Higher Education Chair Eric Dinowitz, New York State Sen. Andrew Goundardes along with CUNY faculty and staff.
According to the union, when adjusted for inflation, per-student state funding for CUNY senior colleges has fallen 38% since 1990 and 18% since 2008—years of disinvestment in CUNY.
Senior colleges of CUNY are funded largely by the state. The community colleges are funded by the state and the city, with the city providing 42% of the funding in addition to the state’s 30% share.
The council and the union have friends in Washington, D.C. Congresspeople Carolyn Maloney, Ritchie Torres, Adriano Espaillat and others threw their support behind the new deal.
“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,” stated Maloney. “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.”
“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,” added Torres.
In January, Hochul announced a $1.5 billion increase in operation support for CUNY and State University of New York (SUNY) over the next five years. This includes more than $170 million for CUNY senior colleges next year.
The union is calling for more. Union officials have pointed out that the university relies too heavily on adjuncts, lacks mental health counselors, and holds classes in facilities that they feel are crumbling amid tuition hikes.
This is why so many people are ready to pick up the gloves and fight on behalf of the union.
“We’re proud to join the City Council, and a growing coalition of lawmakers, labor unions, community groups, students and alumni in calling on the Senate and the Assembly to make New Deal for CUNY investments their priority in the budget negotiations,” said Professional Staff Congress President James Davis, Ph.D, at the news conference. “This wealthy state can afford to end the shortages of full-time faculty and staff, the dependence on low-paid adjuncts and the degradation of our CUNY buildings and facilities. The time has come for a well-funded, tuition-free CUNY education.”
“Thank you to Councilmember Brannan, Council Higher Education Chair Eric Dinowitz and all the Council members for putting the people of New York first! CUNY was well-funded and tuition-free for New York residents for more than a century,” added Rémysell Salas, campaign director of the CUNY Rising Alliance. “New York would not be the city and state it is today had CUNY not provided a way for waves of immigrants to receive a free, rigorous college education. If a free, fully-funded CUNY was good enough for the majority white population in its first century, surely it is good enough for the majority students of color population today.”