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‘Growing Backlash Against Massive Cuts’ To CUNY

Published Tuesday, June 16, 2020
by Naeisha Rose/
‘Growing Backlash Against Massive Cuts’ To CUNY

(NEW YORK CITY) - At the height of the Coronavirus Pandemic, New York State Legislators granted Governor Andrew Cuomo emergency powers to control New York’s budget. Consequently, The Empire State faces approximately $10 billion in rolling cuts, but Professional Staff Congress (PSC)-The City University of New York (CUNY), the Union representing CUNY Staff, is urging citizens to support lawmakers who are willing to push back against the draconian austerity measures. 

More than half-a-dozen elected officials, three PSC-CUNY Representatives and a Professor recently held a virtual press conference, which was streamed by approximately 600 people, to discuss what needs to be done to prevent cuts to CUNY institutions and its thousands of Adjunct and Part-Time Faculty and Staff.

PSC CUNY and CUNY were able to work out a deal to extend contracts for Adjunct/Part-Time Faculty and Staff from May to June to help them keep their benefits, including their health insurance during the pandemic, but if nothing is done to prevent the cuts, layoffs are expected for June 30th, according to PSC-CUNY President Barbara Bowen. 

“New York ‘needs’ CUNY ‘now more than ever,’” said Bowen. “Things ‘have changed between now and May.’  ‘The world is on fire and rightly so.’  The fire of the protests against systemic racism ‘that affects every institution’ - criminal justice, policing and the entire economic framework of this country and beyond.  ‘In this moment, investment in CUNY is even more urgent than it was in May.’”

CUNY is the Nation’s largest public university and one of its most diverse.  It consists of 18 colleges and schools and enrolls some 274,000 students, nearly 80% of them Minorities – and more than half of those Minority students are Women.

Assemblyman Harvey Epstein (Democrat-Manhattan), a CUNY Law School Graduate and second-generation Alum of the school system, suggested that instead of disinvesting in CUNY, Cuomo should invest more because many of the two million unemployed New Yorkers may seek to go back to school during a period where there is a lack of work.

Others who intended to go to a more expensive university or out-of-state may choose CUNY as an alternative, which could lead to a significant uptick in attendance, he said. 

“The ‘idea of doing cuts is outrageous,’” Epstein said. “Federal dollars ‘may or may not come,’ but the state ‘has to step up no matter what comes, and the city has to do the same.’  We ‘need to ensure that high-income earners pay more so that our CUNY System can function.’”

Epstein believes it’s time that multi-millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share in taxes and he supports the Shared Help Assessment to Rebuild Education Act (SHARE Act), which was introduced in May, and would temporarily levy more taxes on those earning $5 million or more. 

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