NYS Budget Cuts may put CUNY Students at Risk

By Evelyn Cheng

Baruch College is located on Lexington Ave. between 22nd and 26th St. in the Gramercy/Flatiron area. Photo by Evelyn Cheng

CUNY Baruch, like about 2,000 other public colleges across the nation, may be forced to lower educational standards by quadrupling class sizes and cutting faculty research grants because of the 10 percent cut in state funding announced this spring.

Decreased state support and recent tuition hikes have moved Baruch towards privatization.

But Dr. Glenn Petersen, director of Baruch’s Sociology and Anthropology Department, said that complete privatization would be “disastrous.”

“There are no legal grounds for [Baruch] to break away. If we became private, we wouldn’t be financially able to serve the students whom we normally accommodate,” Petersen said.

Petersen does not see private endowment funds as a viable means of support.

“The problem then is that you become beholden to having to devote so much of your energy to raising that money,” he said. “And if you do anything they don’t like they take the money away.”

More than 14,000 students attend Baruch College. Photo by Evelyn Cheng

Students have a flat tuition rate across all CUNY schools, but the money goes first to the state before being reapportioned to individual CUNY schools.

The distribution is not always fair.

As the most popular and highest-acclaimed of the CUNY schools, the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch receives less funding than it needs, says Petersen.

“I would like a fairer allocation of the CUNY operating budget,” Dr. Terrence Martell, director of Zicklin, said. While Martell maintains that “Baruch’s mission is to serve the public,” he has joked that privatization would be a means of survival. The school would then have greater control over its revenue.

At $4,600 a year, CUNY tuition is one of the lowest in the country. But tuition was free just a generation ago. Photo by Evelyn Cheng

In a step towards privatization, recently proposed legislation would also allow individual CUNY schools to set their own tuition rates.

Petersen was recently arrested at a CUNY faculty and student protest of the state budget cuts. He was released after a brief detainment.

New York State did not heed the faculty’s protest and went ahead with the budget cuts.

Petersen says this budget cut lacks economic foresight.

“A public education is the single greatest thing fueling our economy. NYC is full of immigrants who want to work hard, and we have to keep providing them with opportunities to contribute to the economy,” he said. “The best economic decision we could make is to continue funding CUNY.”

Zicklin accounting student Ravinder Jaswal agrees.

“CUNY is basically the school that people go to because they can’t afford Ivy League schools,” he said. “We pay very little for [Baruch] but it’s still a good school.”

Reporter Evelyn Cheng can be contacted at

Related Links

NYS Budget Cuts May Lower CUNY Education Quality

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