USG leads first Free CUNY Rally in three years


Courtesy of Laiba Hussain

Laiba Hussain

Hello Bearcats! The Undergraduate Student Government was able to squeeze in a couple initiatives before midterm frenzy hits, including the Free CUNY Rally, an Albany trip and a LinkedIn Headshot event.

USG headed up to Albany on Presidents Day weekend to attend the 52nd Annual Caucus for Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislators. USG lobbied and met with assemblymen, state senators and fellow advocates on this trip. 

Our team had met with Assemblymember Harvey Epstein during the Chairwoman’s reception. Epstein represents District 74, which contains Baruch College. The CUNY Luncheon was also attended by myself, President Wu and Director of Government and Community Relations Michael Banach. 

The luncheon was hosted by Chancellor Rodriguez, and featured notable figures such as Speaker Carl Heastie, Mayor Eric Adams and Ndaba Mandela, the grandson of South African activist and former President, Nelson Mandela. 

Every speaker emphasized the importance of public education and everything that CUNY has accomplished throughout the years. 

USG also met with Baruch alumnus Assemblymember Steve Raga and his team to discuss issues such as spacing, food insecurity and lack of proper infrastructure. USG also expressed concerns regarding CUNY funding in the wake of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent tuition hike proposal. 

The proposal would raise CUNY tuition by anywhere from $141 to $424. As the cost of living increases in New York, students are already struggling to pay for basic necessities, making this hike completely inappropriate. 

Overall, USG left Albany r invigorated and armed with new knowledge. On Feb. 21, USG hosted the first Free CUNY Rally in three years. 

A range of student speakers shared their perspectives on the tuition hikes as well as their hopes for a better, more unified future for CUNY. 

The rally was also attended by Professional Staff Congress CUNY, the largest faculty and staff coalition at Baruch, and CUNY Rising Alliance, a coalition of student, worker and community groups. Both organizations spoke out against Hochul’s proposal. 

USG also received legislative support from Sens. Andrew Gounardes and Kristen Gonzalez. Assemblymember Raga also made an appearance to support the fight for a Free CUNY. All three promised to continue advocating against the proposal upon returning to Albany. 

Lastly, the annual LinkedIn Headshot event took place on March 2 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. on the eighth floor of the Vertical Campus for its great lighting.