For a change, the news isn’t all bad by Meagan DelVecchio
Late last week the New York State legislature gave Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget deal a thumbs up. Included in the package: A nearly $500 million line item for CUNY senior colleges. In January, Cuomo threatened to withhold funding for CUNY senior colleges and shift the university’s financial burden from the state to the city. As a bonus, the state also agreed to freeze tuition at CUNY and SUNY.
Despite the victory, City College must still deal with plenty of other monetary issues that need swift solutions. Here’s how it breaks down:
Why did Governor Cuomo back down?
The Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the union for CUNY faculty and staff, take some credit for the turnaround. In the days leading up to the negotiations, PSC CUNY rallied for support. Their efforts resulted in thousands of letters flooding the governor’s offices asking for retroactive pay and funding. The group also organized a March 24th “die in,” with staff and students alike lining the streets with signs and some lying on the ground in protest. The actions of PSC – CUNY, although forceful, remained peaceful, even as armed police arrested 41 people.
Are we in the clear?
Cuomo’s decision does not fix CUNY’s financial burden; it simply releases some of the pressure. Faculty and staff contracts have not changed since October 2009 and expired in 2010. The process to update and compensate for new raises remains to be seen. The $240 million proposed for back pay not falls short of the 2016 demand. PSC aims to get around $330 million, which would fall inline with current inflation.
What about CCNY?
The 2017 fiscal year avoids the cut, but it does not promise investment in the CUNY system and the students that rely on it. City College will continue to struggle under our $14.6 million deficit, which was unrelated to the governor’s most recent budget dealings. Our school’s largest division, Humanities and Arts, is without a permanent dean and will remain that way throughout the spring and summer. A search is underway for a new dean, with hopes for a replacement by September.
Students can breathe a little easier given the budget relief from the state. But the faculty and staff remain angry about the lack of a contract and are threatening a strike. Signs are posted throughout Shepard Hall imploring students to vote “yes” for the strike. Anyone interested in supporting a potential strike can pledge here.