Students Protest CUNY Cuts at Grad Ceremony - NBC New York

Students Protest CUNY Cuts at Grad Ceremony

With Cuts Looming Gov Congratulates Grads



    Students Protest CUNY Cuts at Grad Ceremony
    Juan DeJesus
    Bronx, NY - A 2010 graduate points at the "Fund CUNY" sticker on his robe in protest to the proposed cuts to the CUNY budget.

    With “pomp and circumstance” playing and graduates beaming as they walk towards the end of their collegiate careers, a small group stood in silent opposition to their esteemed commencement speaker.

    Governor David Paterson delivered the commencement speech to the graduating class of 2010 at Bronx Community College. But just outside the entrance to the institution stood a group of protesters who welcome his address but would like to see his cuts to CUNY disappear.

    “Gov. Paterson has consistently turned his back on today’s graduates and those who want to follow in their footsteps,” said Dr. Nicole McDaniel member of the Professional Staff Congress at CUNY.

    McDaniel and others feel the governor has placed the burden of closing the state’s budget gap on regular New Yorkers.

    “He has cut the budget, reducing financial aid, and trying to furlough faculty and staff,” noted the biology professor.

    However, others understand that the governor faces a tough time in trying to close the chasm of the state budget gap.

    Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY noted, “The state’s budget gap is real. But Governor Paterson has chosen the wrong way to close it.”

    “Cuts to Bronx Community College and to this community are not inevitable. Governor Paterson has resisted every proposal for progressive tax reform and has instead decided to inflict economic pain on the communities who can least afford it.

    Bowen is proposing the state enact a “windfall” tax on Wall Street bonuses or the restoration of the stock transfer tax on the buying and selling of stocks. 

    Professors from around the CUNY system joined in handing out buttons and fliers that explained the cuts the state legislature and Paterson proposed. 

    Sigmund Shen, a professor at Laguardia Community College handed out fliers and stickers in disagreement with the cuts.

    “I have students that work two or three jobs in order to pay for school. If the tuition goes up it will make it almost impossible for them to pass or graduate successfully,” said the 41-year old professor.

    The protest also wanted to draw attention to the fact that tuition in the CUNY system went up by 10 percent this year while financial aide and tuition assistance programs decreased by $93 million.

    Dwight Peters a 2010 Graduate of Bronx Community College also expressed some disgust with the cuts from Albany, “Governor Paterson has Chosen to neglect our hopes and aspirations. May our display of discontent be a sign to the city and the nation.”

    The New York State Legislature has yet to pass a budget.