By Matt Hirsch
On Tuesday, Nov. 30, the CUNY community came together for a donation drive called #CUNYTuesday to support students in need.
Over $2 million has been raised between the 23 CUNY colleges and five CUNY-related organizations, as of publication. So far, Hunter College has raised the most money, donating over $427,000 from nearly 800 different donors. Brooklyn College sits at number seven on the list, raising over $85,000.
“It’s great that people are coming together to help students. As a student, you deal with a lot. Especially with financial issues, some of us,” Television, Radio, and Emerging Media student Luis Flecha told The Vanguard. “With the holiday season supposed to be a happy time, it’s good to see that CUNY is giving its students that happy and stress-free time.”
It’s no secret that the last year and a half has put CUNY students through undue stress. With the hardships everyone has had to endure through the pandemic, Flecha appreciates the assistance to the CUNY student body. “Especially with COVID, having people with families who couldn’t work,” said Flecha. “It’s the right thing to do because without the students there is no CUNY, no SUNY, no college, period. Great on the CUNY schools’ part to do something like this.”
Much of the $85,000 raised by Brooklyn College so far has come from professors. Giving back to the students is something that is near and dear to the hearts of many faculty and staff at BC, especially Journalism and Media Studies Professor Ron Howell, who donated $100 of his own money to the cause.
“Because of who I am, as a guy who grew up right here in Brooklyn, and have a love for Brooklyn, and whose mother and father were born in Brooklyn,” Howell said. “My grandmother was born in Brooklyn in 1901. So it’s so meaningful to me.” As a person of color, Howell especially had the tribulations of minorities in mind when he made the donation.
“And also the challenges of people of color. I would say that’s been meaningful. And so as it turns out, yes, I did contribute myself, a hundred dollars in the name of black faculty and staff association,” said Howell. “There was kind of an obligation…I think it’s meaningful.”
As a CUNY-wide effort, students from all CUNY colleges will benefit from #CUNYTuesday. Kingsborough Community College has raised over $60,000 so far. With the holiday season upon us, KCC professor, CUNY Journalism Discipline Council Chairman, and Brooklyn College alum, Patrick Hickey Jr. shared his thoughts about the donation drive with The Vanguard. “I think it’s great that, especially during this time of the year, that the CUNY community offers help to those who deserve it the most, our students,” said Hickey.
The challenges presented by the pandemic are universal. And as such, the community that CUNY fosters is vital to the success of students. In times of difficulty, events like #CUNYTuesday are a much-needed boost to the morale of students.
“I think it’s great that CUNY is hosting this and trying to help students out like myself,” Brooklyn College student Rayna Pajares-Held told The Vanguard. “I’ve had my fair share of struggles this past year and it’s nice to see togetherness and people around us wanting to see us succeed.”