At its February 24, 2017 Plenary meeting, the Doctoral Students’ Council unanimously adopted a resolution criticizing Governor Cuomo’s ‘Excelsior Scholarship’ as not going far enough. According to the resolution, “the DSC acknowledges that though this may seem like a step toward ‘tuition-free’ college, it will in fact, not benefit low-income students, part-time students, students with disabilities, and undocumented students, who make up a significant part of the population at the City University of New York”. The Plenary resolved to:

  • call on Governor Cuomo to release further details about the scholarship and make transparent the criteria for accessing it, and who will benefit from it;
  • call on Governor Cuomo and the NYS legislature to expand the scholarship criteria to include all students regardless of the number of credits registered for, income, or citizenship status, and for the scholarship to cover other educational or living expenses, particularly when a student’s tuition is covered through other forms state-funded financial assistance; and
  • call on Governor Cuomo and the NYS legislature to lead the nation in higher education by re-investing in CUNY’s infrastructure and workforce – especially for those among the lowest paid workers, such as adjuncts, graduate employees, and college assistants – so that students are guaranteed a free and high quality education.

You may find the full text of the resolution here.

Over the years, the DSC has adopted several resolutions to freeze tuition (as recently as October 21, 2016), as well as a resolution affirming the DSC’s long-term advocacy for tuition-free public higher education. In Fall 2015, the DSC participated in a coordinated campaign for increased investment in CUNY’s infrastructure vis-a-vis the Maintenance of Effort bill (MOE), which was vetoed by Governor Cuomo on December 11, 2015. Free public higher education will go a long way in reducing the barriers many New Yorkers face in accessing higher education, as well as barriers CUNY students face when trying to graduate, but it is only part of the overall investment in public education that the state must prioritize. A crumbling infrastructure with courses taught by underpaid and precarious adjunct professors is just as much a barrier to a world-class education as paying tuition. We hope that Governor Cuomo will now also propose to rectify the state’s deep-rooted and ongoing disinvestment in CUNY’s infrastructure and workforce.