The City University of New York (CUNY) is the largest urban public university system in the US.
The school, however, sometimes called “the poor man’s Harvard,” is in serious financial difficulty, The New York Times reported.
“We have gone backwards,” Frederick R. Brodzinski, a senior administrator, told The Times. “Morale is horrible on campus.”
Although enrollment has steadily risen over the past decade, state funding has been declining.
Buildings on campus are falling into disrepair, and classes are being cut, forcing students to face sobering decisions about whether they can finish their degree requirements. And professors, who haven’t received a raise in six years, have also threatened to strike if they’re unable to get a new contract.
That’s dismaying news for a school whose mission has been to serve ambitious poor and working-class students.
The student body at CUNY is incredibly diverse, with black, Hispanic, and white students each comprising about 25% of the population, and Asian students comprising about 18%. Half of the students at have family incomes of less than $30,000, according to The Times.
As such, the school’s financial problems are severely burdening students on campus.
Anais McAllister, a senior English major with an education concentration, was set to graduate and become a teacher. After some of her classes were canceled, however, she discovered that she would need to take another year to complete her degree.
That was financially impossible for McAllister, who decided to drop her education concentration as a result, according to The Times.
In some ways, the crisis at CUNY is indicative of the larger trend sweeping public universities across the nation.
Louisiana State University (LSU), for example, announced last year that it was drawing up a financial-bankruptcy plan.
The Baton Rouge-based university with over 30,000 students drafted the plan, in part, because proposed budgetary cuts by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal threaten to severely impact the higher-education system in the state.
The governor’s plans would cut the budgets for Louisiana’s colleges and universities to the tune of 82%, according to Bloomberg.