Updated 11/28/2011 11:49 PM
CUNY Board Approves Tuition Hike As Three Protesters Are Arrested
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The board of trustees of the City University of New York voted Monday evening to approve a $300-per-year tuition increase, over the objections of protesters who tried to interrupt the proceedings.
Three protesters were arrested during demonstrations at Baruch College.
The hike will raise the cost of CUNY tuition by $300 per year over the course of five years, representing a total increase of 30 percent by the year 2016.
The trustees approved the hike by a vote of 15-1. The increases had already been approved by state lawmakers.
Is a $300 yearly tuition increase at CUNY reasonable and fair? Join the conversation on "The Call" at 9 p.m. with NY1's John Schiumo, or email your thoughts.
Several afternoon classes at Baruch were postponed as Occupy Wall Street and student protesters gathered there for demonstrations. Members of the organization Students United for a Free CUNY joined Occupy Wall Street demonstrators earlier Monday for a march from Madison Square Park down to Baruch's Gramercy campus.
Once the trustees' meeting began most protesters were kept out of the meeting room, but protester Bill Crain, a CUNY professor, gained access to the room and attempted to disrupt the proceedings before security personnel escorted him outside.
Last week, a similar protest at Baruch resulted in more than a dozen arrests, and video posted on YouTube showed demonstrators scuffling with CUNY officers.
"The CUNY Board of Trustees and the administration are disgracefully treating the students and faculty," said Conor Tomas Reed, a Baruch graduate teaching fellow. "Last Monday, CUNY security, in collaboration with the New York Police Department, pushed and shoved CUNY faculty and students who were trying to peacefully enter a Board of Trustees public hearing."
"I'm hoping that this protest will shed light on the fact that they are disregarding student expression, they are keeping us away from public hearings and not making us part of the decision-making process," said Baruch student Denise Romero.
Students who spoke with NY1 mostly opposed the impending hikes and many said the demonstrations are an appropriate way to express discontent.
"I think that if the school uses the money for something useful, they're not a bad idea, but in a school where most of the population works all the time and goes to school full-time, I think it's hard for them to pay higher tuition," said a student.
"Raising tuition is a worthy cause to protest. I don't even go to this college, but I'll be here," said another student.
"I think it's always a bad time to raise tuition, especially now. I mean, people have always been struggling and the tuition has always been great. It needs to stay at that amount for many years. And that's why people have come here," said a third student.
CUNY officials say their schools are still less expensive than state schools and private university.
They also said about 60 percent of full-time CUNY students go to school for free as a result of financial aid.
"What's really driving some of the issues here is the concern about debt and debt upon graduation, and our students as a whole take out little debt, for obvious reasons. The tuition's affordable for those who can pay," said CUNY Communications Director Michael Arena.