CUNY Board of Trustees raises tuition for all students by $200

Courtesy of ian Boyd

Courtesy of ian Boyd

On June 24, the CUNY Board of Trustees met at Baruch College and voted almost unanimously to raise tuition for all CUNY students, effective immediately. The members of the board purposely avoided the stares of student protesters as they walked into the building to do it. The tuition hike protest was made up of over a dozen students, community leaders, elected officials and alumni from various CUNY colleges. They came together to rally an hour before the meeting for one last push against the near-certain tuition hike. 

The protesters made their messages clear to the board in front of the Newman Vertical Campus with signs that stated, “Increase Public Funding, Not Tuition,” “Excelsior Scholarship is False Advertising” and “New Yorkers Cannot Afford Higher Education.” 

Speakers included Corrinne Greene, a University Student Senate delegate from Brooklyn College,  and Hercules E. Reid, a New York City College of Technology alumnus and community organizer, among others. 

Many of those who were present at the Board of Trustees hearing to protest the hikes a week prior to the vote were in attendance for the rally and subsequent meeting as well.

“As students, we’ve gotta do something different next year,'' said Reid. “I myself am tired of standing here and having the same conversation. The fight is not over. Continue remaining vigilant and confident that we will win this fight for all of CUNY.”

Most notably, no board members dared to walk into Baruch’s campus through the 24th Street entrance, where protesters were gathered. 

Chairman of the Board William Thompson was noticeably all smiles as he quickly waved and rushed through the back, 25th Street entrance of the NVC to chants of, “Hey hey! Ho ho! Tuition hikes have got to go!” and, “If we don’t get it, shut it down!”

The rally was sponsored by the USS, whose chairman, Haris Khan, is a sitting member on the Board of Trustees, and was one of only two votes against the hike. 

Additionally, New York City Councilmember Rafael Espinal Jr. spoke at the rally in solidarity with the protesters.

 “Raising tuition is a backwards approach to dealing with the student debt crisis,” wrote Espinal in a Facebook post about the event. 

In the same post, he voiced his support for cancelling student debt nationwide and having tuition-free college, propositions spearheaded by current presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Smitha Varghese, the legislative director for the USS and a senior at Queens College, discussed the importance of the role and responsibility that USS holds in mobilizing students to come out for events as important as the June 24 rally.  

“It’s USS’ main mission to make sure that college is affordable for students,” Varghese said. “We are going to track and watchdog the trustees whenever a tuition hike occurs. That is when we have to organize.” 

Shortly after the decision was made to raise tuition, Baruch’s Undergraduate Student Government released a statement on its Facebook page regarding the hike, authored by Baruch’s USS Delegate Joel de la Cruz. 

“Student leaders will be organizing to discuss our plans to prevent future tuition hikes,'' wrote de la Cruz. “We believe that meaningful dialogue will be the only way to develop any significant solutions.” 

When asked about what could be done differently to bridge the gap of communication between the Board of Trustees and CUNY students, de la Cruz replied: “There’s only one student representative sitting on the Board of Trustees. That’s great and all, but they should try to speak to student leaders from all campuses instead of just one. There’s a lot left to be wanted.”

Should students have any questions or concerns about the tuition increase, they can contact de la Cruz at joel.delacruz@usgbaruch.com.