PSC Union Shows ‘Past Due’ Demands Outside BC Prez’s Office

PSC members collected around 300 slips from students for the action./Gabriela Flores

By Gabriela Flores 


   Faculty members of the Professional Staff Congress union hung a clothesline with “past due” invoices that listed student demands outside President Michelle Anderson’s office. The display last Thursday, Mar. 2 in Boylan Hall is one of several rolling actions the PSC is organizing across campuses in support of the New Deal for CUNY, a bill that calls for free tuition among other resources.

   “We want to live in a state and in a society that values public higher education, and in order to value higher public education, we have to fund it,” said Professor Carolina Bank Muñoz, the chair for the PSC chapter at Brooklyn College. Though the state’s governor has recently passed “the largest year over year budget for CUNY in a very long time,” according to Bank Muñoz, more investments are needed. 

  “We need so much more money coming into our system because it’s not just two years of disinvestment, it’s 30 years of disinvestment,” she said. 

   The action collected over 300 slips from students, who were mostly informed by professors about the effort and its support for the New Deal for CUNY. Among the written demands were free MetroCards, better pay for adjuncts, more funding for immigrant and international students, and lower tuition costs. Each slip was labeled “past due” and addressed to President Anderson, CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, New York State legislature, and Governor Kathy Hochul, whose state funding for CUNY mostly supports senior, four-year colleges like BC. 

   “I wrote one [slip] because there is a clear lack of resources for CUNY students. Basic necessities like working projectors, clean bathrooms, and food options within campus are not being given,” wrote student Nailah Hoque to The Vanguard, noting she found out about the action from her English professor. “CUNY was a free institution and now, students are paying high costs for low standards.” 

   CUNY was formerly free for eligible students who resided in the city from its 1847 inception till 1976, according to the Gotham Gazette. Recently, the chancellors of CUNY and SUNY publicly supported Governor Hochul’s proposal to increase tuition for their respective university bodies by 3%, as reported by NY1. Among the invoice-like slips on Thursday’s display, one note stated that NY has an “$8 billion surplus, but CUNY wants to lay off part-time faculty & staff.” The action is also backdropped by pending budget cuts across the university’s 25 campuses, with BC set to submit over $9 million in “budget saving recommendations” for the 2024 fiscal year by Mar. 17, according to an open budget forum held on Feb. 23. To address its structural deficit and pending budget cuts, the college has created a fiscal review and advisory committee that includes student, staff, and faculty representatives. 

   Through recent lobbying efforts, President Anderson and other administrators have called on elected officials to provide more funding for BC and the university overall. 

    “We need additional operational support to help address our structural deficit, which is due primarily to two things — decreases in enrollment and related tuition revenue and historic unfunded mandatory costs increases,” Anderson wrote in a statement to The Vanguard. The president and her team are asking the state to reimplement the former funding formula of CUNY receiving 40% of the higher education budget and SUNY the remaining 60%. For BC, more state funds could lead to expanded resources through the “renovation of Roosevelt Hall and Ingersoll Hall,” according to Anderson. 

    “I appreciate that these concerns were shared with me and I am working with my leadership team to determine how we can best address those concerns that are within our control,” she wrote in reference to the PSC’s recent display. 

    Campuses like Borough of Manhattan Community College have led similar actions in support of the New Deal For CUNY, publicly displaying the bill’s demands while calling on the university, state, and their respective colleges to do more for their students and faculty. Through its efforts, PSC aims to see the bill’s plans come to fruition and for CUNY to be fully funded. 

   “We of course hope that it will pass this year,” said Bank Muñoz.