A People’s Assembly to Defend Education,
An action endorsed by the Professional Staff Congress, set for Monday, November 28 at 4 p.m.
Media Inquires: Dominique Nisperos (510) 788-0085 / Elizabeth Sibilia (347) 249-2326
New York, NY (November 27, 2011) – In a defensive move, City University New York’s (CUNY) Baruch College President Mitchel Wallerstein announced yesterday his decision to cancel all classes beginning after 3:00 p.m. on Monday, November 28th at the school’s Newman Vertical Campus. The lock-down coincides with the 4:30 p.m. convening of the CUNY Board of Trustees, to finalize contentious votes on across-the-board $1,500 tuition increase and the allocation of up to $15 million to expand security inside CUNY schools.
The campus lock-down is planned even though CUNY’s own legal department shows that the meeting falls under New York State Open Meeting Law and is legally required to be open to the public, including any CUNY students who wish to attend as long as the room is at legal capacity.
“This desperate and unethical move by the Board of Trustees and Baruch officials represents a victory for students and the public” explains a doctoral student in Anthropology at The CUNY Graduate Center who also teaches at Hunter College. “They’ve gone to such great lengths to shut us out on the 28th because they finally get that we have the power of numbers, righteousness, and ideas on our side.”
While Wallerstein asserts the campus closure is necessary to “ensure the safety of all students, faculty and staff during the period surrounding the meeting,” many students and faculty opposing the fees see the move as a further example of the misdirected priorities of the system’s administration.
A week prior to the scheduled meeting, hundreds of CUNY students were denied access to a purportedly public hearing at their own university. A peaceful attempt to hold an alternative hearing and sit-in in the building’s lobby was met with CUNY security officers wielding batons to jab, shove, and hit students and faculty. Despite administrative claims otherwise, video evidence documents that CUNY Officers initiated an unprovoked attack on students and the presence of New York Police Department Officers within the school. 15 students were arrested, several injured, and five held in jail overnight in New York’s central booking.
University faculty view these acts as attempts to silence the growing dissent at CUNY and have responded to the brutality with a student solidarity campaign, collecting more than 2,000 signatures petitioning for the resignation of Chancellor Matthew Goldstein–who also doubles as a Trustee of the JP Morgan Funds.
“I’m proud to teach at a university where students take their education so seriously that they are willing to protest to defend it, even when faced with brutal police violence,” says Anthony Alessandrini, Associate Professor of English at Kingsborough Community College. “The violent attacks on student protesters at CUNY and other universities is an attack not only upon their right to express their views, but an attack upon their fundamental human right to pursue their education.”
A coalition of students from across CUNY’s campuses has organized students, staff, faculty, community and union members for A People’s Assembly to Defend Education, an action officially endorsed by the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), a rally for increased access to public education, democratic decision-making, and against policing and police brutality. The event will convene on Monday, November 28, at 4:00 p.m. Outside of Baruch College’s 25th Street Vertical Campus building.
Trailer for N28 Event: http://youtu.be/d2YVwMRLjw4
Follow @OccupyCUNYGC on Twitter