Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October 15th Austerity Press Conference

Press Release

Brooklyn College Faculty, Staff and Students launch #RespectCUNY Postcard Drive

Thursday, October 15th

12:30-1:30 PM

Bedford Ave. gates to Brooklyn College near Campus Road

Contact: Alex S. Vitale, 917-293-4862, avitale@brooklyn.cuny.edu

A coalition of Brooklyn College faculty, students, and staff officially launched a postcard drive today calling for State elected officials to fully support Brooklyn College and CUNY without relying on additional tuition increases. Tuition has gone up every year for the last 5 years, but state funding has not kept pace with growing enrollments. This year state failed to fund $51 million in mandatory cost increases CUNY wide. This has caused significant budget shortfall at Brooklyn College, leading to larger class sizes, fewer available classes, and diminished student services. Employees at the college from maintenance workers to painters to professors have been without a contract for over 5 years and most employees have not had raises during that time.  Anselma Rodriguez a Higher Education Officer (“HEO”) said that “every year expenses in New York are going up, especially for housing, but our pay has stagnated. It’s time the state made resources available to CUNY to pay for decent raises.”

The decline in public support is a national problem, so the Ethyl Wolfe institute for the Humanities is hosting a day-long event today entitled “Austerity and Its Discontents: The Fight to Reclaim Public Higher Education.” Speakers from across the country will be discussing the reasons for the cut backs and strategies for reversing this troubling trend. Speakers attending the press conference include Rudy Fichtenbaum, President of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and Eleni Schirmer and Michael Billeaux from the University of Wisconsin.

The postcard being launched today is being distributed to thousands of students, employees, alumni, and community supporters. It calls on local elected officials to “work in Albany for full funding for CUNY, including its employee contracts, and to increase financial aid without burdening students with higher tuition.” A printed version of the card is addressed to local Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, and an on-line version is addressed to both her and State Senator Kevin Parker. The online version can be found at here.

The postcard also uses the hashtag #RespectCUNY, which is linked to a Twitter campaign to raise awareness about the need for better funding for CUNY. We are using the Twitter handle @psccunybc.

During the event students and faculty will be circulating postcards for students to sign during the lunch break between classes.

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