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Friday, May 12, 2023

Elected Leaders Join Hundreds of PSC CUNY Members & Students Rallying for Investment in CUNY

Photo by Lambert Parong

New York - Hundreds of faculty and staff represented by the Professional Staff Congress, students and CUNY allies on Thursday, May 11, joined forces with City Comptroller Brad Lander, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Assembly Member Karines Reyes and members of the New York City Council and New York State Assembly on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse to oppose cuts to City of University New York colleges. 

Mayor Eric Adams has targeted CUNY for repeated cuts with his “Program to Eliminate the Gap” (PEG) and in his Executive Budget, eliminating hundreds of unfilled faculty and staff positions at CUNY community colleges.  Accelerate, Complete, and Engage (ACE), an academic support program known to improve graduation rates, is also on the chopping block.

CUNY administrators, facing the mayor’s draconian city budget cuts and other financial pressures, ordered a hiring freeze and painful “savings target” cuts earlier this year that will undermine academic departments and student services, leaving adjunct faculty jobs at risk and students without the support they need. Albany passed a budget last week with big increases in state funding for the CUNY senior colleges, but New York City funding for the community colleges has been steadily declining. Successive, enacted PEG cuts and new cuts to community colleges proposed  in the Executive Budget add up to $61.5 million.


City Comptroller Brad Lander and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. Photo by Lambert Parong

“CUNY represents both the rich diversity and possibility that is New York City. This Executive Budget jeopardizes CUNY’s ability to provide the academic and support services necessary to catapult low-income New Yorkers into the middle class. CUNY remains New York City’s greatest opportunity for civic recovery and rebuilding after the pandemic, and the City must recognize the powerful value of a strong CUNY by realigning long term budget priorities,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. 

CUNY graduates contribute $4.2 billion annually to the state economy, most of it in New York City. They power the workforce, filling half of new nursing positions and a third of new teachers. The University is a national leader in generating economic mobility for students and communities. The City Council, recognizing CUNY’s huge return on investment and seeing fiscal projections that don’t jibe with the mayor’s overly dire predictions, has been standing up to the mayor, demanding budget restorations and a $35 million increase to hire 264 new full-time academic advisors.

Council members Alexa Avil├ęs, Charles Barron, Carmen De La Rosa, Eric Dinowitz, Shahana Hanif, Christopher Marte and Pierina Sanchez all spoke in defense of CUNY, which serves a student body that is almost 80% people of color, with 60% coming from families earning less than $30,000 per year. 

The mayor, who as borough president marched with students and staff to oppose past CUNY budget cuts, has eliminated 363 faculty and staff lines at CUNY, leaving colleges unable to replace full-time faculty, advisors, mental health counselors and other staff that students depend on. His budget cuts and other financial pressures have left part-time adjunct faculty, who provide the majority of undergraduate instruction at CUNY but are mostly hired on a course-by-course basis, bracing for possible layoffs. 

Photo by Lambert Parong

“Cutting CUNY means throttling the engine of mobility that our city relies on,” said James Davis, president of the Professional Staff Congress. “Two CUNY degrees helped to propel Mayor Adams from a working-class Queens community to prominent roles in state and city government. Thousands of young people in that neighborhood and others like it need the opportunity that he was afforded, and that is what’s at risk in this city budget. 

“Thankfully the City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Adrienne Adams, has a plan that better meets the needs of CUNY students and PSC members. We urge the Mayor and his administration to collaborate with the Council and reach a deal that’s good for CUNY and good for the City of New York.”


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