[UPDATE: On January 6 the City Council restored $4 million to CUNY community colleges out of a $11.8 million cut proposed by Mayor Bloomberg in his mid-year reductions. More.]
Faculty members and college students gathered at City Hall at noon on Wednesday, December 8th to speak out on the impact of Mayor Bloomberg’s 5.4% cut in City funding for CUNY’s community colleges. The midyear reduction of $13 million will mean a loss of hundreds of class sections and adjunct faculty positions. Increased class size and decreased support services will harm students’ education and hurt graduation rates.
“CUNY students are being punished for a budget shortfall they did nothing to create,” said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the union of CUNY’s faculty and professional staff. “If a cut of this size is enacted, some students will not be able to take classes they need and may not be able to graduate. It isn’t smart and it isn’t fair to endanger New York’s economic future by erecting obstacles in the path of people who want to learn.”
“More cuts would be devastating,” said Rahime McClaurin, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). “BMCC students are already packed like sardines into our overcrowded classes. Fewer faculty would make things much worse. We’re in dire need of help from our lawmakers,” said McClaurin, a board representative of the NY Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). In response to the midyear reduction, BMCC’s administration has developed a plan that would cut more than 100 adjunct faculty positions and axe about 260 class sections.
The City Council directed additional funds to CUNY this year as community college enrollment soared. Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the Council’s Higher Education Committee, noted that even before the mayor’s cuts, the budget for NYC’s community colleges “was barely enough to cover their new expenses with the record-high enrollment” of recent years.
Cutting public higher education when enrollment is growing undermines New York’s economic future, said PSC First Vice President Steve London. “In the 21st century, it is just common sense that we need to invest in working peoples’ education, so that they can contribute more to the economy and to society,” London said. “Without that investment, our economy will be on a shaky foundation.”
You might also want to read a related article -- 3,000 Against CUNY CC Budget Cuts.