CUNY at the Turning Point

Jun 1, 2016 by


New York City College of Technology, the City University of New York campus where I teach, has now spent more than a decade improving itself on the cheap. When I first taught here in 2001, it was a joke of a college, seen by many as undeserving of the name. Now, its faculty (over half hired within the last ten years) publish regularly and teach the diverse student population deftly and with dedication. The students have improved, too: For their final, my Law Through Literature students were each asked to select a passage from the “Grand Inquisitor” chapter of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and use it as a jumping-off point for a discussion of their own philosophies of the law. When I joined the full-time faculty in 2006, such an assignment would have proved disastrous.

But, as I said, the change has been effected on the cheap. And that is not sustainable.

The fault isn’t the college’s. The fault is a system wrung dry and tossed on the rag pile by city and state governments more interested in the glamor of Wall Street and luxurious high-rise apartments than in the people of New York, especially its next generation.

New York is experienced a renaissance like nothing ever before seen, but it sometimes seems like it is only for show, for the tourists and for the millionaires from around the world now investing in Brooklyn pied-à-terres.

New York City’s middle class is shrinking. Unable to afford housing in the city, those whose incomes don’t reach the one-percent but are too high for public assistance are being forced out of the five boroughs. For the poor, the situation is worse, of course. They have nowhere to go.

For both the middle class (always pressed, financially, in the city) and the poor, CUNY has been a lifeline for generations, providing (at most of the campuses—the old City Tech was something of an exception and, even here, strong programs did exist) a viable college education at an affordable price. However, that has changed. Today, according to David W. Chen in The New York Times, the problems “throughout the entire CUNY system… are representative of a funding crisis that has been building at public universities across the country. Even as the role of higher education as an engine of economic mobility has become increasingly vital, governments have been pulling back their support.”

The problem problems are so bad that:

Source: CUNY at the Turning Point | ACADEME BLOG

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