CUNY Students Rally Against Board of Trustees Tuition Vote
CUNY’s Board of Trustees voted last night to approve a $300 annual tuition increase through 2015, as hundreds of enraged students, staff, and faculty rallied outside Baruch College in protest.
The Board deliberated over many detailed requests but the tuition increase, which will be effective for the Spring 2012 semester, was the most contentious, and charged, issue on the agenda.
“This pretty much will destroy the mission of this great university which is to give everyone a chance, an opportunity, for a first rate college education,” stated Bill Craine, 67, a professor of Psychology at City College New York for 41 years.
At 3pm, CUNY protesters and Students United for a Free CUNY gathered at Madison Square Park before marching to Baruch.
The Board of Trustees meeting began at 4pm. Baruch rescheduled afternoon classes and only allowed the first 100 people to sit in on the meeting. However, almost half the seats were empty, with just over 60 spectators in attendance.
On the 14th floor in the conference room, spectators were were separated from the board by retractable belt stanchions.
Very few CUNY protesters attended the meeting itself. Only minutes into the meeting, Professor Bill Craine, with a sign stating ‘APOLOGY’ over his neck, crossed the stanchion boundary and stated, “The board owes an apology for what happened to the students last week,” referring to the detainment of over a dozen CUNY demonstrators just a week before during preliminary Board of Trustees meeting. Craine was immediately escorted out of the conference room by security.
The Board made a point to emphasize that CUNY had hired more full-time faculty, with an increase of about 5500 full time faculty members to 7000. In terms of students, the board explained that it sought to continue financial aid initiatives, including Tuition Assistance Program [TAP], and how 58% of CUNY students attended with free tuition despite a recent decrease in funding. However, the issue that caused tension an inability to cover adjunct professor’s health insurance.
“What is happening is that adjuncts who are not graduate students are being stripped of their health insurance starting in January, and we really haven’t seen a proactive response from the trustees,” replied Carwil Bjork-James, 35, adjunct professor at Baruch and anthropologist.
The meeting concluded with the vote to increase tuition.
Once the protesters outside got word that the increase had passed, and the meeting was over, they massed in front of Baruch. As Board memebers exited the building, they vehemently chanted: “ Shame on you! Shame on you!”