Tag Archives: cuny

Excelsior: Free Tuition for Whom?

By Steve Brier

If you’ve at all been confused about or even impressed by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s widely touted Excelsior Scholarship program that was just voted into law by the New York State legislature, a good place to start to deal with your questions and concerns is Lauren Gurley’s article in the May issue of The Indypendent, “Free Higher Ed for a Few.”

Gurley’s piece reveals the ways Excelsior serves as a giveaway to NY State’s middle class taxpayers — especially those who would like to send their kids to SUNY schools — while denying real and much-needed support to CUNY’s working-class and poor students who will hardly benefit from Excelsior, given the scholarship’s extremely restrictive terms. Cuomo is trying to burnish his progressive credential in anticipation for his 2020 run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Gurley interviewed me at length for the piece and I’m quoted a few times, including the final statement:

“We made a commitment as a nation in the post-World War II period that public education would be free and available to everyone who was interested in pursuing it. And we created institutions like city colleges, junior colleges and state colleges […] It was a different world. And that is the world, I would argue, that we should go back to.”

For the full article, visit The Indypendent.

You can also listen to Lauren Gurley´s article on iTunes or Soundcloud as part of a the new Indy Audio podcast, where you can listen to articles from The Indypendent.


Photo by MTA via flickr (CC-BY)


Murphy Prof. Steve Brier in NYTimes Editorial on CUNY

What’s the future of CUNY? To understand what might come, it helps to look at what’s passed. How did CUNY become what it is today? What’s at stake in preserving an autonomous CUNY?

An editorial by the Editorial Board of the New York Times today starts to tell the story, and does so by citing Murphy Consortial Faculty Member Steve Brier’s book, co-authored with Michael Fabricant, “Austerity Blues: Fighting for the Soul of Public Education”:

As the City University professors Stephen Brier and Michael Fabricant explain in their forthcoming history, “Austerity Blues: Fighting for the Soul of Public Higher Education,” Nelson Rockefeller, who essentially built the state’s public higher education system, wanted to absorb New York City’s colleges into the state university system at the beginning of the 1960s.

The proposal met fatal resistance from alumni, business leaders and education officials who had great affection for the city system. They understood the city to be different from the rest of the state, in civic and cultural terms, and considered free tuition essential to much of its population. (Mr. Rockefeller had also proposed charging tuition in exchange for state aid.) The merger idea was dropped, and the city system — renamed The City University of New York in 1961 — remained independent, even though it would receive state support.

The state Legislature took the same view. It gave the state formal control of the city system while recognizing fundamental differences: on the one hand, a loose federation of 64 campuses scattered about the state; on the other, a city system described in state law as an engine of advancement for the poor and disadvantaged and having “the strongest commitment to the special needs of an urban constituency.”

Read the full editorial at NYTimes.com.

Photo by Alex Irklievski (Alex Irklievski) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On Escalation, Dying-In and the Fight to Fund CUNY

By David Unger

“C-U-N-Y…Don’t Let CUNY Die!”

Over the past few years, we have been lying down on the pavements of New York. In Grand Central Station, in front of Barclay’s Center, in the middle of streets in Brooklyn, near Union Square, in Harlem and in the Bronx.  We have been asked to lie down — to Die In — in order to demand recognition of Black Lives, to condemn violence against and killing of people of color, many of whose names are by now familiar in a tragic way: Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin…and on and on. 

Many times, everyone has been asked to die in, to lie down.  Other times, white allies have been asked to stand in silence.  Either way, the impacted communities have been calling the shots and leading the way. 

At times, the die-ins have been done by “other groups,” including the Fight-for-15, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), and others, marching in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and calling out the intersection between racial and economic violence. Each time, no matter what intersections have been highlighted, the violence against people of color has been the primary concern of the actions. Continue reading On Escalation, Dying-In and the Fight to Fund CUNY

Gov. Cuomo Announces State Will Fully Fund CUNY Next Year

In a reversal from his recent vow to defund the CUNY system by shifting $485 million in costs onto New York City, Gov. Cuomo’s office announced yesterday that New York State would pay the full $1.6 billion CUNY budget next year, after all. This funding is contingent on the hiring of a management efficiency expert, who will identify new opportunities for cost-cutting.

While heralded as good news by some, many argue that it’s still far from enough. From Gothamist:

“Of course it’s good for CUNY not to face a reduction, but that is just the starting line,” PSC CUNY President Barbara Bowen told Gothamist. “If all that has been accomplished in this budget season is that CUNY is back to where it started in funding, that is not enough…it’s not enough just to say CUNY was saved from a gigantic, devastating cut.”

Yesterday, more than 500 people demonstrated outside Cuomo’s office in midtown Manhattan, demanding that the final state budget, due April 1st, include increased investment in CUNY and fund contracts for the 35,000 CUNY faculty and staff members who they say have worked for years without a raise.

Protestors were confined by police to pens across the street from the office, chanting “C-U-N-Y, don’t let CUNY die,” but dozens exited the pens and staged a die-in directly outside the office building. They laid down in rows, blocking the building entrance, and after police issued three warnings, 41 people were arrested, including Bowen and City Council member Inez Barron, who chairs the City Council’s committee on higher education.

Read the full post at Gothamist.

Photo by hjjanisch via flickr (CC-BY-ND).

CUNY On Strike?

By Sarah Hughes

If you’ve been around Murphy recently, you’ve probably heard rumblings about the PSC contract battle. As a labor school, Murphy Institute faculty, students and staff study and put into practice the fight for labor rights. Now, as members of the Professional Staff Congress-CUNY and AFSCME District Council 37, Murphy community members are in a fight for fair labor conditions all our own. To give a bit of context, we’ve assembled an explainer. Read on to learn how we got here — and where things might be headed.

What’s going on with CUNY?

Since 2010 CUNY workers, faculty and staff, have been without a contract. Our union, the Professional Staff Congress, has been working the regular routes to a contract: members have written countless petitions and letters, endorsed a pro-labor mayor, endorsed the governor, lobbied for a new, labor-friendly chancellor, held mass meetings and rallies, got arrested and lobbied tirelessly in Albany.

In the meantime, Gov. Cuomo and the legislature has underfunded CUNY to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, and is threatening something much more drastic this spring. Continue reading CUNY On Strike?

Open Letter from CUNY Foundation Board Chairs to State Government

Foundation Board Chairs from all of the CUNY colleges and professional schools penned an open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the members of the State Assembly and Senate concerning the present budget situation at CUNY. This letter ran in the New York Times today and is copied in part below.

We write to you as the volunteer leaders of the boards of foundations supporting every college of The City University of New York (CUNY). Along with the hundreds of New Yorkers who serve on our boards, and the thousands of generous donors who last year contributed over $250 million to the University, we are deeply concerned — more concerned than we have ever been — about the health, future and continued independence of CUNY. We are calling on you now to support this vitally important institution.
Continue reading Open Letter from CUNY Foundation Board Chairs to State Government