Following the expulsion of a group of protesters from the room, the CUNY Board of Trustees passed the Fiscal Year 2019 University Budget Request and the Five-Year Capital Budget Request, along with a number of other calendar items, on Oct. 23.
As a part of the university budget request, tuition at all CUNY senior colleges will once again be raised by $200, and stay the same rate at all community colleges.
The meeting of the board took place at Baruch College.
Members of CUNY Rising Alliance, a coalition of 33 CUNY advocacy groups, continued their protest of the tuition hikes that started roughly an hour earlier in the 25th Street Plaza. While they were mostly silent for the first 16 minutes of the meeting, the crowd erupted in chants of “Hey hey! Ho Ho!/Tuition hikes have got to go!” just as Chancellor James Milliken was about to give his report.
After repeated warnings and attempts by Chairperson William Thompson to quiet the crowd, security did a sweep of the room and expelled protesters and non-protesters alike. Among those thrown out were members of the University Student Senate and reporters from The Ticker. It was unclear what methods were used to determine who to remove from the room, as a few people were allowed to stay. When a Ticker reporter asked if it was because he was under the age of 25, a security guard responded that “That’s pretty much it.” However, those not protesting were quickly allowed back into the room.
From there, the meeting continued.
In an address to the board, Vice Chancellor for Budget and Finance Matthew Sapienza outlined some features of the university request, including a way to offer CUNY students discounted MetroCards. The level of funding New York City gives to CUNY has not changed since 1995, said Sapienza, and CUNY would be asking for $29 million more from the city in the request.
Although tuition would be going up at the senior colleges, asserted Sapienza, students would be contributing less to the overall budget of CUNY as more funding would hopefully be coming from the city. As it stands in the 2018 fiscal year, state aid constitutes 53 percent of the budget, while undergraduates supply 16 percent and the city provides 12 percent. In the new budget, students would provide 15 percent while city support would expand to 14 percent.
Tuition would not be raised at the CUNY community colleges, if it could be helped. While tuition at the senior colleges is low compared nationally to other colleges, CUNY community college tuition is higher than other community colleges nationally, explained Sapienza. A tuition freeze has been in effect for the past two fiscal years at the community college level, something that would be extended in the new budget.
Other resolutions passed by the board include providing in-state tuition for the current academic year to students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria, and to review the student activity fee at all CUNY colleges in order to make necessary adjustments.
The newest member of the board, USS Chairperson John Aderounmu, spoke out in regard to the student activity fee, asserting the wish of USS to assemble a task force of students and administrators to oversee the fee’s overhaul.
While the board declined to officially amend the item, the USS’ wishes for representation would be taken into account, assured Thompson. Then, the board entered executive session, concluding the public part of the meeting.