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USS clarifies concerns about Caucus Weekend

CUNY students, along with the University Student Senate, have decided not to attend the annual legislative conference held by The Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators Inc. due to concerns of money mismanagement. The NYSABPRL is the nonprofit arm of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. 

Every year, for 46 years, the NYSABPRL hosts an annual legislative conference. 

“Historically, NYSABPRL has engaged the public at its annual convention, through the presentation of issue-focused workshops, and by collaborating with and lauding community-based leaders from every county, city, community and neighborhood across the State,” the association’s website states. 

Dubbed Caucus Weekend, the NYSABPRL has invited higher education student groups like USS to Albany for years. 

For the entire weekend, student senators from USS, along with local student government representatives, would attend to learn from and participate in workshops regarding public health, housing justice, higher education, environmental issues and more. This experience has provided many underprivileged students the opportunity to engage with lawmakers, learn from experts, all the while reminding the very same lawmakers to fight for higher education in the upcoming budget session. 

In the past few years, however, students at CUNY have read unsettling news articles detailing the NYSABPRL’s alleged mishandling of money. 

In 2019, students shared their concerns with the USS leadership. The Student Senate followed up with Caucus leadership to get answers, to no avail. 

Even more recently, Attorney General Letitia James has started an investigation into the nonprofit’s alleged misuse of funds, according to an article written by the Times Union. 

While we can assume no guilt given that the investigation is still ongoing, our student-constituents have expressed skepticism and unease attending the annual gala, which occurs towards the end of the weekend. 

The gala in particular would require USS to pay student money to attend, which, given the current situation, would not be appropriate. For this reason, students have decided not to attend the annual gala.

Instead, USS, along with local student governments, will attend the various educational workshops, participate in higher education panels and continue spreading the message to fully fund CUNY. 

At a time when lawmakers are riding the progressive wave in Albany, having passed historic rent laws, environmental protection laws and criminal justice reform, the time for Albany and New York City to have a free and fully funded CUNY is near, and soon this dream will become a reality.

This Op-Ed was submitted to The Ticker by the CUNY University Student Senate. For more information about USS, log onto

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