On Thursday, September 19th, the Brooklyn College Socialists held their first meeting of the year. During common hours, returning members and new members club began the discussion by going around and stating what they were interested in in regards to socialism, campus movements, and Bernie Sanders. While the flyers advertising for the club’s first meeting had a focus on Bernie Sanders, club members seemed more interested in talking about campus movements and socialist policies that would affect them directly. One of those being the Free CUNY! Movement.
Free CUNY! on its website states that they are “New Yorkers organizing to make CUNY free again. We believe that free, high-quality higher education is a human right.” When asked what a Free CUNY means to them, attendees stated things such as free metro-cards, less stress, and more time to study. Free CUNY! is not just advocating for a tuition free institution, they are also advocating for stipends to “make sure poverty doesn’t hold any student back from success.” The Free CUNY! campaign points to the fact that CUNY was tuition free before CUNY was majority non-white: “The city imposed tuition in 1976— the first year that the incoming class was a majority students of color.” Sophomore Nicole Yamorski, says “We need free CUNY. People may not understand– sometimes I have to choose between paying a bill and eating lunch. That is not a decision that I should have to make.” Attendees of the club were also made aware of a Free CUNY! Arts + Propaganda meeting that took place Friday evening at the CUNY Grad Center.
Members of the Young Democratic Socialists of America were in attendance as well. This is following a tabling that the organization did outside of Campus on Bedford Ave in which they campaigned for Bernie Sanders. Members of Young Democratic Socialists of America stated while they campaign for Bernie Sanders, they have their own critiques of him. However, they believe his policies such as tuition free college, can help bring attention to anti-capitalist mass movements. The Brooklyn College Socialists agreed with this message– while they believe that Bernie Sanders won’t bring about a socialist revolution, his campaign is bringing more attention to socialism and why it would be beneficial to society.
There was a sense of excitement in the room. The ideas reviewed during the meeting resonated with new members such as Victoria, who said in regard to Free CUNY! “ With the tuition hike, my mom was panicking…moneywise I wouldn’t have to worry. It would make my family relieved.” Aiden, another new member and a freshman, said “I didn’t qualify for FAFSA so my family had to pay out of pocket. My family isn’t wealthy so it is a financial strain.”
Brooklyn College Socialists will be meeting on normally on Tuesdays, not Thursdays. Interested new members should follow @bcsocialists for information on upcoming meetings and events. The Free CUNY! website has information on how you can get involved and upcoming events. Students clubs affiliated with Free CUNY! include but are not limited to Brooklyn College Socialists and Brooklyn College Student Union.