The Struggles of SupportCUNY.org
CUNY Advocacy site fails to gain attention
“Support CUNY. Become a CUNY champion.” These words are found at the header of CUNY’s recent online project supportCUNY.org. Created at a time when federal, state, and city budget cuts are becoming increasingly prevalent, the site aims to promote stronger support for CUNY institutions, whose academic and non-academic operational activities have suffered greatly due to the budget cuts. While the site does not directly mention plans regarding donations or other philanthropic contributions, it encourages the greater practice of advocacy for CUNY schools. However, for the site to function as originally intended, many students feel more awareness needs to be garnered, otherwise the website could be rendered useless.
When asked about the website, most students were unaware of its existence and offered mixed reactions after learning about it. “I had no idea what [supportCUNY.org] was and if students don’t know more about it, how are they [CUNY] supposed to raise money?” said Alex Kreitzman, 21, sophomore.
Many other students shared Kreitzman’s concern, including 20 year-old sophomore, Grace Fletchman. “If you’re gonna have something like this, more people need to be aware of it,” remarked Fletchman. On its homepage, supportCUNY. org provides a synopsis of the current budgetary situation at the federal, state, and local levels. As a starting point for its advocacy, the website emphasizes a group effort in spreading the word to family and friends for the recruitment of people to advance its cause. Part of the advocacy that the website calls for involves attending legislative events and contacting state legislators in giving more support to CUNY. Links to contact information for the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly are provided on the Champion Actions section of the website.
But the launch of a website like supportCUNY.org, which calls on working- class people, whether directly or indirectly- connected to CUNY, to help support CUNY institutions, exemplifies the dire effects of a lagging economy on public education.
“This shows the harsh reality of how uncertain city and state schooling are” said Aaron Drelich, 20, a sophomore studying nursing. Drelich added “We’re so reliant on federal funds that the quality of education is in jeopardy due to budget cuts.” He then expressed his view on the importance of public education for the future of a nation in an evermore competitive global economy by stating “CUNY and SUNY provide education for the masses and by compromising the quality of education, you are compromising the future of the nation, which is determined by the characteristics and capabilities of those who shape it.”
Other students like Daniella Arbulu, a 26 year-old political science major, offered an optimistic perspective regarding the potential of this new website. “[SupportCUNY.org] brings the fact that we are underfunded to light and hopefully [will] bring attention to alumni or organizations to get involved” said Arbulu.While the website remains widely unknown within the CUNY community, it is clear that the institution is in need of funds. The advocacy that the website promotes is ultimately for the advancement and expansion of public higher education to turn more dreams into reality.