Crumbling CUNY infrastructure presents a major safety issue

Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

As CUNY students return to an increasingly in-person learning format, they are met with falling roof tiles and in some cases swarms of rats. CUNY’S decaying buildings and alarming health hazards are signs of years of neglect and safety issues.

CUNY faculty and students alike are calling on New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state government to address the ongoing maintenance problems that CUNY campuses across the city are dealing with.

They want Hochul to provide CUNY with the necessary funding needed to repair buildings, Spectrumreported.

In her first 2023 State Budget Proposal, Hochul wanted to distribute over $700 million in capital funding. It should be rightfully noted that her price tag is an increase of more than a few hundred million dollars.

But according to a report from The New York Post, CUNY officials have said that they need $1.247 billion to manage the public college system’s many needs. While Hochul has supplied a better option than her predecessors would have, the $1 billion price tag should not be removed from the table.

CUNY Rising Alliance, a union of faculty and students, launched a social media campaign dubbed #CrumblingCUNYwhere people highlighted their points of view on disrepair portions of their respective CUNY campuses.

Based on stories told in #CrumblingCUNY, Hunter College is where help is needed the most in terms of building restoration and fixing sanitation problems.

Gender Studies Professor Jen Gaboury told Curbed of a mouse infestation at the 68thstreet campus and a time when she was teaching a class and a roof tile in the classroom she was in fell and nearly hit a student.

“I gasped and stood up and started to say things and make noise, in shock,” Gaboury said. “She had a look on her face that haunts me.”

Infrastructure problems on campuses impact students in a very big way. One Twitter user took to the platform using the #CrumblingCUNY hashtag to inform others of her change in classes due to a leak.

“Two of my class had to be moved this semester, one because of a leak,” wrote the Twitter user.

District 36 Assembly member Zohran Mamdani also joined the social media trend and posted a story about his constituents also being affected by the unsafe conditions at Hunter College.

“Today a Hunter College student came into my office,” Mamdani tweeted. “He’s a constituent & he told us that one of Hunter’s buildings has signs that tell students to only eat on floors 6 or higher bc floors 1-5 have too many rats. The cafeteria is on the 3rd floor.”

On other campuses like Baruch College, for example, some air dryers in the bathrooms do not function, which some may find ironic given the fact that students are entering a post-pandemic CUNY life.

The correlation between air dryers not working and the pandemic is that washing hands may be rising due to the student body taking extra precautions to avoid COVID-19 infection.

Baruch also deals with faulty elevators, a problem that Baruch student Edward Sanchez told the BKreader about.

“The status of the elevators among the students is a joke. If you’re getting stuck in the elevator, it’s considered the Baruch experience,” Sanchez said to BKreader. “And as funny as that sounds, it shouldn’t be the Baruch experience. It shouldn’t be at all.”

Years of infrastructure damage are signs of much-needed repairs for the public college system and a plea for comprehensible funding for repairs.

If activists are smart in their advocacy, then this is the perfect time to further push the argument for the New Deal for CUNY legislation that is currently sitting in the New York State Senate.

The Curbed article notes how the New Deal for CUNY would satisfy Hunter College and other CUNY campuses’ restoration but there would be funding leftover to hire more professors and bring back the days of tuition-free CUNY education.

If CUNY students are to truly return to days of student held events and classes in a more in- person format, then it is up to CUNY officials teaming up with New York politicians to come up with comprehensible infrastructure plans that will ensure the CUNY community that the environment is safe enough to continue commencing in-person activities.