Board of Trustees approves CUNY's tuition hike
Published: Monday, December 5, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 12:12
On Nov. 28, the Board of Trustees (BOT) held a meeting to vote on the proposed, and highly controversial and protested tuition hike. In order to avoid a repeat of the previous week's protest where students stormed the doors of the Vertical Campus special precautions were taken.
The BOT approved the tuition hike, which will increase by $300 every year for the next five years. Student Senate representative Kafui Kouakou was the sole individual to vote against it.
"As a wise man once told me, education should be considered as an investment from the state," said Kafui.
The meeting began with Benno Schmidt, chairperson for the BOT, reviewing acceptable conduct for members of the audience.
"The board must carry out the functions assigned to it by law and therefore cannot tolerate conduct by members of the public that disrupts this meeting," said Schmidt. "In the event of disruption which interferes with the board discussion, and after appropriate warning, we will ask security to remove said person with disruptive conduct."
These warnings however, did nothing to detain one individual, who immediately spoke out about the "injustices" students suffered at the previous protest. William Crain, a professor of Psychology at City College ran forth and attempted to go under the barricade, separating the BOT from the audience.
Hanging from him was a sign that read, "Apologize."
"The board owes an apology to the students that were beaten last week," shouted Crain.
Even as security officers were restraining him, he shouted to the trustees, "You are ruining the mission of the university!"
As he was escorted out of the doors to the conference room, Crain yelled, "Betrayal! Betrayal!"
Crain later explained to The Ticker that he not only believed that a professor should speak out against what he described as "attacks" on students at the previous week's protest, but also addressed the tuition hikes in general.
"I also wanted to raise again the issue of the tuition hikes, which I believe will make it very hard for many students to go to college and therefore betray CUNY's great historic mission of giving opportunity to all New Yorkers, low-income people as well as wealthier people," Crain said.
Following the interruption, the Chairman called on Chancellor Goldstein to give his report.
He briefly spoke about the legislation that was adopted by the New York State legislature that required BOT to adopt a tuition policy by Nov. 30. This tuition policy will begin with the 2012 academic year and run through 2015.
"The plan provides a critical component of the CUNY Compact, the public higher education leveraging model for which we have vigorously advocated for almost a decade," said Goldstein.
Goldstein went on to add that they support the CUNY Compact to ensure funding stability, maintain access demonstrated by record-breaking student enrollment and protect faculty and staff from layoffs.
"In light of the over $300 billon in operating budget reductive that CUNY has recently received, such layoffs would have been unavoidable without the CUNY Compact," said Goldstein.
He added that the tuition plan would provide for a predictable tuition policy rather than the large unexpected tuition increase, as has occurred in the past. Goldstein went on to say that the tuition increase will allow students to plan accordingly, and that it will be minimized through financial and state aid.
"Any revenue generated from any tuition increase goes directly to university purposes rather than the state's general fund," said Goldstein.
According to Goldstein, state law allows students who are eligible for Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to receive a tuition credit for the full amount of the increase when tuition exceeds $5,000. Likewise, students who receive only partial TAP will have a partial amount of the tuition increase covered.
"As indicated in the university's 2013 budget request, we will establish a new CUNY financial assistance program that will provide approximately $5 million in tuition credit to students who are at risk of further continuing their matriculation as well as an institutional work study program modeled after the federal work study program to increase student jobs at CUNY," said Goldstein.
He stated that last year $770 million in Pell and TAP grants went to over 170,000 undergraduate students, equivalent to six out of 10 students being able to attend college tuition-free. Many other students were able to have at least half their tuition covered by these grants.
"The new law asks that both CUNY and SUNY conduct a study of the TAP program and make necessary recommendations," said Goldstein. "We are already at work on this analysis."
Following Goldstein's report, Executive Vice Chancellor Dobrin spoke in greater detail regarding the Nov. 17 protests. Dobrin shared that the board expected the previous week's protests, as the day had been designated "a national day of action."