Photo Credit Gabriela Vasconez, 2016
by Andres Valcarcel
Manhattan – Last Sunday CUNY students, faculty, and Assembly members congregated at City Hall Park to cross the Brooklyn Bridge and protest against budget cuts proposed by New York State.
At 12 pm, students, faculty, and supporters gathered at City Hall Park in lower Manhattan. The City University Student Senate (USS) organized the demonstration, also known as “March in March,” to protest against looming 485 million dollar budget cuts on CUNY proposed by Governor Cuomo’s in his drafted state budget. The USS calls for a tuition freeze, the filling of the budget gap, the “modernization of the state’s tuition assistance program”, contracts for professors, and the reinvestment of CUNY.
Among the CUNY students and faculty were supporters including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Manhattan Borough President Galer Brewer, the group United Students Against Sweatshops, and the CUNY Professional Staff Congress. The protest also saw support from New York State assembly members Rodneyse Bichotte, Diana Richardson, Latrice Walker, and the longest serving assembly member Richard N. Gottfried who all announced their backing for the cause and marched with the demonstrators. “I want you to know that I will always be here for we say NO to a 485 million dollar budget cut!” Announced Assembly member Richardson, “We say pay the professors what they deserve and give them a contract!”
The budget cuts, according to the USS, will continue to raise CUNY’s tuition by $300 every year, with the total undergraduate tuition for senior colleges to be $7,830 by 2021. The 485 million dollar budget cut to CUNY still remains despite a New York State budget surplus of around 1 billion dollars, according to the New York State Comptroller, Tom Di Napoli.
Future events and demonstrations against the budget gap are scheduled for the next several days, such as the CUNY Writers Against Austerity demonstration at Cooper Union on the 20th, and the Stop Starving CUNY Rally at the CUNY Graduate Center on the 22nd. As long as the budget cuts continue to threaten CUNY, its community of faculty, students, and alumni will continue to fight for their right to affordable education.