Education, New York

PSC CUNY and Students Rally at City College Graduation

June 7, 2016 

PSC CUNY, students and faculty

By Silver Krieger

New York, NY – On Friday, June 3, as lines of students waited outside City College in Harlem in the rain to hear Michelle Obama speak at their graduation, members of the Professional Staff Congress, CUNY students, and student government representatives rallied across the street to bring attention to CUNY’s funding crisis.

Barbara Bowen, President of the Professional Staff Congress CUNY, the union that represents 25,000 faculty and staff at the City University of New York, said, “We are here to send a message to the Governor, Mayor, and Chancellor that CUNY needs more resources and CUNY
needs to fund a contract for the faculty and staff. Our message is also an expansion really, of what the First Lady has been saying in many graduation speeches she’s given, which are consistently about more access to college for people of color, underserved groups, and the poor,
and there is no place that exemplifies that more than City College, our oldest college, since 1847. We are here to amplify the message and say do it now, Governor, do it now, Mayor, do it now, Chancellor, and put resources into our contract.” 

Sayonara Diaz

The biggest issue on the table for the union’s members is salaries. Says Bowen, “We are asking for a fair wage. We have not had a raise in six years, going on seven, and the result is that our salaries are not competitive, and faculty and staff are leaving. People are just not staying at CUNY. And when that happens our students lose the benefit of being taught by that faculty, so it’s a real crisis in quality at CUNY, when you cannot retain the really top quality faculty and staff you have, and also many academic departments right here at CCNY have reported that they cannot recruit new faculty because the salaries are so low. So our most significant proposal in the contract negotiations is for fair salaries. We have other things we need too, all of which would contribute to better learning conditions for students.”

Sayonara Diaz

Sayonara Diaz of the University Student Senate spoke about her experiences as a student. “I am here representing Hostos Community College. I had to change my major from Nursing to Community Health Educator, due to a large amount of students, about 400 ahead of me, and there being not enough classroom space available. Albany and City Hall should invest in students because we are the future.”

Zaire Ansari, a City College student added, “I am here to bring awareness to CUNY that equitable and equal opportunities should be available to all. It is becoming much harder for people of color to join in the opportunities of higher education.” She said that due to problems within the CUNY computer system that confused staff and administrators, she and many other students had problems getting advisement and getting into classes. “This is all due to lack of funding. Meanwhile the costs of tuition and associated expenses are going up every year.”

June 6, 2016

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