Hundreds of Students March Against CUNY Tuition Hike

Allison Kilkenny

Demonstrators, met by a heavy police presence, march near Baruch College on November 28 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Hundreds of students participated in a march — complete with a lively band — last night outside Baruch College in opposition to a tuition hike of $300 annually in each of the next five years for all undergrads:

Students gathered outside the college and used the human mic to share stories of struggle, but also words of optimism. One young man in talking about Occupy Wall Street declared, We are global! Eight hundred fucking chapters!”

At one point, a faction of students broke away from the sad, penned caged area that has become a hallmark of state-approved protests and marched as the band played Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It,” protesters loudly singing along.

As the group slowly moved through the city (marching in NYC always entails conquering endless interesting obstacles, dodging cars and leaping over bags of trash) protesters chanted, Students and workers! Shut the city down!”

Suddenly, one of the demonstrators stopped the procession to announce that Baruch’s Board of Trustees had voted to approve the tuition hike. The lone dissenter was Kafui Kouakou, chair of the University Student Senate and a graduate student at Brooklyn College.

None of the students seemed particularly surprised that the vote had passed, but soon another student announced some further information via people’s mic that the Board was coming out of a building on 24th street, and suggested, Let’s meet them!” The crowd cheered in response and the march was off again.

All of these occurrences, including the final gathering along 24th street, were almost entirely peaceful. The board never emerged from the building and protesters soon dispersed in order to head back to Barbara Kent Plaza. However, a handful of individuals were arrested during the day’s events, but it’s unclear if they were CUNY students.

22-year-old male and 23-year-old female were arrested for reckless endangerment, a 31-year-old male was arrested for harassment, and a 25-year-old male was arrested for disorderly conduct, police said.

Students were particularly vocal about the disconnect between wealthy CUNY bureaucrats who run the show and financially struggling students. For example, CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein received $560,038 in total compensation last year.

And it wasn’t just students who felt outraged by the tuition increases. The New York Daily News reports that inside the boardroom, Bill Crain, a psychology professor at City College, began yelling at Benno Schmidt, the heard of the board.

You owe us an apology! You are ruining our mission, our university,” Crain cried out while hefting a sign that read Apologize” in blue ink. Traitor!”
Allison Kilkenny is an In These Times Staff Writer and the co-host of the critically acclaimed radio show Citizen Radio. Her blog for In These Times, Uprising, focuses on efforts around the world to address the global economic crisis.
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