I have always been a proud product of our Cities and States higher education system. This all changed last week!
I have very fond memories of my college years. I started off at the State University of New York College at Oneonta. I attended Oneonta from 2000 to 2002 where I was a Political Science Major. I decided in 2002 to transfer home to New York City and finish my undergraduate degree at CUNY. I attended the City University of New York Baruch College from 2002 to 2004. I graduated Baruch with a BA in Political Science and a Minor in History in 2004. I then went on to study at Hunter College, where I received my MA in Urban Affairs in 2007.
The site of students from my Alma mater CUNY Baruch College being arrested for protesting the proposed CUNY Board of Trustees tuition hike broke my heart. The proposed tuition hikes which were approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees 15-1 this past week will increase tuition at CUNY $300.00 each year for five years. This is a 31% increase in CUNY tuition. In five years CUNY’s undergraduate tuition will be $6,330.00 per year up from $4,830.00 per year.
CUNY has always been one of the best places to get an affordable education. CUNY Baruch at one point was completely free. CUNY is one of the last affordable places to get a higher education. These new tuition hikes will make it harder for New Yorkers who cant afford more expensive educational institutions to attend CUNY.
Three hundred dollars does not seem like a lot of money but tell that to the students who are working two or three part time jobs just to pay for college. Tell that to the single parents who are taking classes in the evening or tell that to the low income New Yorkers who can barely afford CUNY as it is currently.
What really bothered me was the scenes of students being treated like common criminals. It looked like a war zone inside and outside Baruch. The scene outside Baruch reminded me of the images, I was shown in school from the 1960’S when the army was brought in to keep the peace at some colleges. This is supposed to be New York. This is supposed to be the place where people protest peacefully without the fear of the NYPD being brought in to violently break up a protest.
Given this economic pressured time period, basic freedoms need to be heeded, and both protestors and NYPD need to proactively work at protecting those freedoms and respecting opposing views. The tuition hikes were approved but there is still something that we can do to fix this. We must advocate to our state elected officials to make sure that when they return to Albany in January to increase the funding CUNY receives from the State. I urge everyone to contact your Assembly Member and State Senators and tell them to support CUNY.
Matthew Silverstein is the 2nd Vice President of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance and the Democratic State Committeeman for the 26th AD