Members of the Professional Staff Congress rallied Oct. 25 to urge the Board of Trustees at the City University of New York to approve a budget proposal that includes funding to hire 1,075 full-time faculty.
As part of its budget request for Fiscal Year 2023, CUNY is seeking a $416-million increase for its operations compared to this year’s spending plan. It also calls for $1.25 billion in capital funding so that CUNY can address deteriorating conditions across its aging campuses, and freeze tuition.
'Far Better Than Recently'
PSC President James Davis called the proposed budget “an important stepping stone” to address the decades of disinvestment CUNY has faced.
“The university budget request is far better than it’s been in years,” he said. “[The Board of Trustees] must approve the budget request proposed by the administration. It’s vitally important given the pandemic we’ve been living through that any recovery and rebound for the city [includes] a big recovery and rebound for the City University of New York.”
Just one of the 17 Trustees—state Budget Director Robert Mujica—voted against the plan, which will need state approval. Mr. Mujica questioned why the public-university system called for the funding increase when enrollment at its community colleges has dropped 22 percent over the past two years.
CUNY’s plans to hire over 1,000 faculty members, which also includes 500 Lecturer positions that will provide a path for adjuncts to become full-time staff, were applauded by the advocates.
The public-university system has increasingly relied on low-paid adjuncts, who teach more than 60 percent of courses. Amid a looming budget crisis caused by the pandemic, last summer CUNY decided not to reappoint nearly 3,000 adjuncts. About 1,000 of those positions were subsequently restored.
Jennifer Gabouri, the PSC chapter chair at Hunter College, called the conversion lines “a form of adjunct justice. We need to be able to bring long-serving adjuncts into the ranks of full-time faculty, to pay people fairly and to have shared-service labor that right now is falling on too few people.”
Mr. Davis noted that there were 4,000 fewer full-time faculty at CUNY now compared to during the 1970s, even though there are currently 24,000 more students.
“That’s what we mean when we talk about racist austerity,” he said.
Several people at the rally noted that many of the items in the administration’s budget request aligned with proposals in the New Deal for CUNY legislation, which was proposed by CUNY Rising Alliance, a coalition of higher-education advocates that includes the PSC and student unions.
The bill, which was introduced by Assemblywoman Karines Reyes and State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, calls for a series of reforms at CUNY over a five-year period, including making tuition free and hiring 5,000 full-time faculty.
It also would require the university to hire additional mental-health counselors. CUNY’s budget plan includes $5.5 million for mental-health services.
The advocates hoped that the decades of CUNY being underfunded would end under the new Governor.
“Governor Hochul is the most important individual when it comes to reviving CUNY,” PSC Vice-President Andrea Vásquez said.
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