CUNY Rising Alliance and affiliates demand support for CUNY

Maya Demchak-Gottlieb

CUNY Rising Alliance and affiliates demonstrated in Clivner=Field Plaza on Oct. 25 during a CUNY Board of Trustees meeting, calling for CUNY to take action on the shortage of instructors, advocating for the New Deal for CUNY and urging the administration to pass a budget reflective of student issues.

“Investment in CUNY is a key to a just future for New York,” CUNY Rising Alliance stated on its website.“Strengthening CUNY will help the communities hardest hit by COVID, increasing economic mobility for low-income New Yorkers and people of color.”

Daniel Flores, a Baruch College public affairs major and delegate to the University Student Senate, was a speaker at the demonstration.

“If CUNY is going to be a tool of social mobility, one of the great ways we can start is by having the school be tuition-free,” Flores told The Ticker.

Flores said that being a representative in USS made his participation in the demonstration even more important to him.

“I really felt like it was part of my duty to make time and fulfill my role as representative of the CUNY Baruch College to the University Senate and to be there in solidarity to fight for a more equitable Baruch,” he said.

For Flores, participating in the demonstration meant more than fulfilling his role as a USS representative.

“For me this is very personal,” he said. “I don’t come from an area where there is a lot of bells and whistles in my neighborhood. I was born in the South Bronx, St. Barnabas Hospital. I studied for the majority of my life in public schools. I am the son of a bus driver and a construction worker, both union-raised, so they instilled the value in me for looking after people and making sure that people’s voices are heard.”

Flores continued by discussing how CUNY’s low tuition has helped him and how free tuition could help even more people.

“CUNY specifically with its low tuition has helped me succeed in my aspirations,” Flores said. “If tuition was free and we had more investment in higher education I can only imagine the countless amount of other lives that can succeed as well.,”

During the march through Clivner=Field Plaza, demonstrators gathered in a line and chanted into megaphones. They held signs demanding more support for CUNY, as well as for free tuition.

The event also had many participants that joined online.

Marketing major Tai Shiga said she was not familiar with the specific issues the demonstrators were advocating for prior to the demonstration, but was adamant in her support for their advocacy. She said she viewed the demands of the demonstration as part of a larger national issue.

“I think it’s really important that we have at least a few colleges all around the country that are free tuition because many people can’t afford to pay and then to be in debt like a hundred thousand dollars by the time they finish college,” Shiga said.

Flores described the benefits of the demonstrators’ positions by going through the ways an average Baruch student’s day would be changed by the implementation of the proposed policies.

“From the moment when they wake up, they can see [that they] don’t have to worry about what class to register for because there will be enough faculty,” Flores said. “To going to class: ‘I’m going to go to a class that has proper ventilation, where I won’t be having to put on fifty coats.’ To going home: ‘I can go to sleep peacefully at night knowing that school is tuition free.’”