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be cool, stay in school

maura @ 11:09 pm

Today there was a CUNY Board of Trustees meeting, hot on the heels of last week’s meeting after which a number of students/faculty/staff were arrested as they protested the proposed rise in tuition. Not that I assumed anything else, but it was still depressing to watch the tweets roll in this evening reporting that, predictably, the tuition increase was approved. The lone no vote was from the one student member of the BoT. Not sure if anyone was arrested at Baruch (where the meeting took place) today — I hope not, and hope all of the protesters are safe.

I’m not a dummy. I know that college is expensive. Heck, isn’t everything expensive? And I know that CUNY is far, far less expensive than many most other colleges and universities. And I know that the colleges need the money from this tuition increase, which they’ve been promised to get. (As opposed to the last time tuition went up and the state used the extra funds to make up budget shortfalls in other areas. Stay classy, NY!)

While there are lots of genuinely bad things that happened in the past, things we should learn from and try never to repeat, sometimes history outshines today. CUNY once had free tuition for all students. Again, not a dummy: I know it was a different world then. And I know that there are plenty of good and deserving services and programs to spend city, state, and federal money on now.

But I also know (because I used these stats in 2 conference presentations this semester) that in 2010, 38% of CUNY undergrads lived in households earning less than $20K annually (source: Thirty-eight percent! And I also know that a college education for everyone can’t possibly be a bad thing.

So I am sad about the tuition increase at CUNY. Because even if it’s inevitable or the only feasible way to move forward, it’s not the right way.

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