Dianne Morales’ vision for CUNY outshines other mayoral candidates


Samson Li | The Ticker

Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

The next New York City mayor will determine how the quality of life at CUNY will progress. Mayoral candidate Dianne Morales’ “Free CUNY” proposal proves that she is the only candidate who understands the impact CUNY has on New York City.

CUNY has seen funding drop by 18% in the past 10 years, according to a 2019 report provided by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. At the same time, tuition has increased by $300 every year. Currently, CUNY’s tuition rate for full-time New York State residents at senior colleges is $6,930 per year and at community colleges is $4,800 per year.

Morales said it best on her campaign website: “Fully funding CUNY isn’t a moonshot; it’s doable.” Her statement is a perfect jab to all those who criticized the idea and call it a fantasy.

According to NYU Local, CUNY went through an era of open admissions and full funding during its early years. It lasted until 1976 when New York City went through a fiscal crisis. It was around that time when the government started implementing tuitions.

CUNY was made with the sole purpose to provide education to low-income students and students of color, who may not be able to afford an out-of-state school.

Other mayoral candidates, like Kathryn Garcia, Shaun Donovan and Ray McGuire, are calling for financial aid expansion, and that sounds nice in theory.

For example, Donavan’s plan includes his “Equity Bonds proposal,” which means that every child would receive between $1,000 to $2,000 a year through a city-administered savings account.

McGuire wants to fundraise by forming partnerships with corporate entities, in addition to advocating for more funding from the state.

But there is an understandable concern with financial aid expansion and that concerns the government itself. Depending on who is the face of the administration, financial aid expansion could be compromised due to a lack of proper funding for the state, since CUNY’s funding mostly comes from the state and city government.

Morales, who is considered a progressive candidate due to her campaign proposals, is advocating for CUNY to be free across the board and that is not such a bad goal. Tuition increasing over the university’s many years is simply unacceptable and it disproportionately affects students of low-income backgrounds.

A plus to Morales’s plan is that she can back up how to she intends to fund her CUNY initiative, and it is partly thanks to the New York Police Department.

“Under Dianne’s plan for a fully funded CUNY, that money could come from a combination of three areas: cutting waste from our current budget in areas that aren’t serving our communities; divestments from NYPD’s annual budget,” her campaign website states.

Whoever becomes the next mayor could play a vital role in changing the budgetary impact for CUNY.

The largest public university system births the community leaders, teachers and lawyers of tomorrow and the candidates for mayor must realize that in their mission to secure leadership of New York City.