As we come down to the final days before the state legislature passes its budget, CUNY is once again a topic of much debate. The state budget continues to leave out key parts of the student agenda and before it is passed, it is essential that our concerns be addressed.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Excelsior Program continues to have flaws that must be fixed. Tuition hikes are being proposed and put forth by the State Assembly. Meanwhile, funding for key programs that CUNY students have relied on is nowhere to be found in the budget.
Members of the Undergraduate Student Government at both Baruch College and within the CUNY system have rallied at City Hall, marched the Brooklyn Bridge and lobbied on the floor of the state legislatures.
However, in order for our campaign to succeed, students, en masse, must start to participate. Students must take it upon themselves to play a more active roll in our advocacy efforts. There is nothing more crucial than student participation right now.
Over the next week, USG will be hosting phone-banking sessions for students to reach out to their local officials and continue to advocate for a fully funded CUNY. With your help, we will continue to pressure the legislators and make sure our needs are met. If we fail to act now, policies like the tuition increase will stifle student input for years to come.
The Excelsior Program, implemented in the way Cuomo outlined, will not benefit a majority of CUNY students as it only assists those who take 15 credits or more.
Once implemented, it becomes very difficult to change the regulations and parameters so we must act now to include our students. The proposed tuition hike by the New York State Assembly is not just a one-year plan. It will lock us in for yearly $200 increases until the fiscal year 2022. We must convince them to alter their proposals.
At the local level, the idea of shifting nearly $50 million dollars from the state budget to the city for senior colleges has floated by our university, but was not included in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s preliminary budget announcement. If this continues to be left out of both budget proposals, Baruch will receive massive cuts, as we are one of CUNY’s senior institutions.
As students, it is our responsibility to stand up and fight back against the short-term cuts and long-term policies that harm us. We must continue to be our own champions and battle until a budget that benefits all students is passed.
Daniel Dornbaum is the president of USG. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His office is located at 3-272 in the Newman Vertical Campus.