Pro-Student CUNY Hosts Town Hall, Demands More Online Classes

Courtesy of CUNY.

By Matt Hirsch

   Pro-Student CUNY is an activist organization of CUNY students advocating for more online learning options. On Thursday, Apr. 7, they hosted their third virtual town hall to give students a chance to voice their struggles with CUNY’s 70% in-person class policy. Students from all different CUNY campuses attended the meeting to share their stories. 

  “A lot of students are reaching out to us, that they need help in person because CUNY now dropped the mask mandate, everybody can be back in full capacity, classes are overrun,” Sophia Kieseheuer, Pro-Student CUNY’s chair, told The Vanguard. “Some students saying that there’s no desk space […] And it’s getting to the point where they’re struggling.” 

   Kieseheuer lives with Crohn’s Disease, an auto-immune disorder that can be extremely painful and has no known cure. She joined Pro-Student CUNY after attending a town hall at John Jay, where she currently studies Criminal Justice. 

  Including Pro-Student CUNY members, about fifteen people from all over the university attended the town hall to voice their concerns. The creation of more online options in a post-pandemic CUNY was a major theme of the night. Students like Austin Dragos, who couldn’t get a medical vaccine exemption despite a recommendation from his physician, were forced to put their education on hold. Dragos attends Brooklyn College for Childhood Education.

  Though there are still a limited amount of online classes at CUNY, they are working on accrediting completely online programs. Come the spring 2023 semester, CUNY Online, a new initiative through the CUNY School of Professional Studies, will offer 10 new fully-online bachelor’s programs and 20 by the following fall.

  “We’re trying to start somewhere, where at least students that have disabilities could at least get online options,” Kieseheuer said. “Or students that have a religious or medical exemption for the vaccine and they need online options. So we’re trying to start somewhere and then work our way up.”

  Students can look forward to more online options come next spring. But, until then, in-person learning is once again the default for CUNY. 

  “Feel free to reach out. Even if you just have questions or concerns, or you just need someone to vent or speak to. It’s a student-led committee,” said Kieseheuer for students interested in Pro-Student CUNY. “We’re all students. So we’re all in the same boat and we’re all here fighting for what we think we deserve.”