New York, NY—Faculty and staff at Hunter College rallied earlier today to call on the college’s administration to be transparent and to disclose why it is not using the nearly $9.5 million out of the $132 million in CARES Act stimulus funding the City University of New York system received to offset adjunct job losses.
To date, nearly 3,000 CUNY adjuncts have lost their jobs, and out of that sum, nearly 100 have been let go at Hunter.
In addition, the faculty and staff were also calling on the state of New York to finally release the 20 percent of funding that is still due CUNY.
It’s been six months since New York Governor Andrew Cuomo approved a budget for CUNY. But because the coronavirus pandemic has battered the state’s economy, and also because additional stimulus money isn’t forthcoming from the federal government, the state is holding onto the money.
It seems that, ultimately, additional federal stimulus money will be necessary before the state releases the remaining 20 percent. Indeed, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked the federal government for $60 billion in unrestricted federal aid.
In addition, a spokesman for the New York State Division on the Budget, Freeman Klopott, told the Gothamist today that without additional federal support, the 20 percent withholding could become permanent.
“New York funds education, police and fire departments, and services for the most vulnerable, and if the federal government ultimately fails to deliver funding, these temporary withholds will become permanent spending reductions,” said Klopott.
Some say that the Governor should raise taxes on the city’s approximately 30,000 millionaires in order to fully fund CUNY, but he has resisted that call by saying that New York is already a high-taxed state.
Regarding the $132 million in federal CARES Act funding, CUNY signed an agreement in May to provide the union that represents Hunter College faculty and staff, the Professional Staff Congress, “detailed college budget information, information about proposed cuts, information about State and City fiscal situations and enrollment projections,” but the information hasn’t been forthcoming.
Jennifer Gaboury is a lecturer at the college in the Department of Women and Gender Studies, and she’s the PSC Chapter Chair at Hunter. She spoke first to those who gathered at the rally to say Hunter College and the rest of CUNY has to live up to that agreement.
“Part of what we’ve learned in the past two weeks is that CUNY Central started releasing the CARES Act money, finally, finally, finally to some degree to colleges, but what the college presidents are telling us is that there are real restrictions, and they’re saying only for certain purposes. So, we want to know why,” said Gaboury.