Jen Gaboury says years of neglect can be seen all across CUNY campuses like Hunter College.
“We have a lack of money for pretty much everything,” said Gaboury, standing outside of Hunter’s west building entrance on 68th Street and Lexington Avenue.
From broken elevators, to missing ceiling tiles due to water damage, the list of building complaints at Hunter is long.
“I saw a large mouse run in my English class, a month later I saw a bunch of roaches in the same lecture hall,” said Amy Warren, a junior at Hunter.
In a hashtag #crumblingcuny Twitter campaign, students posted examples of broken pipes in restrooms and doors. Gaboury says those are just the tip of the iceberg.
“We don’t have enough full-time faculty, part-time faculty are underpaid,” Gaboury said. “Sometimes students come to me that have been sexually assaulted and we can’t guarantee they’re going to see a mental health counselor for weeks,” she added.
A statement from Hunter College addressed maintenance repairs saying, like many CUNY campuses, Hunter has endured years of underfunded and deferred maintenance. With the largest student body in the CUNY system, they are constantly addressing wear and tear. The school was also hit hard by Hurricane Ida six month ago, and they say they have been working without pause all through the pandemic even as students returned to classes.
As the state budget deadline approaches, advocates have been rallying for an additional $500 million to help with repairs, but also hire more faculty and make tuition free for in-state students.
“We consider this 500 million a down payment toward passing a new deal for CUNY. CUNY needs reoccurring funds to do that work and we used to have that funding,” said Gaboury.
A spokesperson for Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement, “Governor Hochul’s executive budget includes bold initiatives to embrace this once in a generation opportunity to invest in our future, and we look forward to continuing to work with the legislature to finalize a budget that serves all New Yorkers.”
Gaboury said despite these issues she’s never giving up on CUNY, but admits this is a critical time that she says desperately needs attention.
“When we don’t get the money we need it means that people don’t graduate from college, their lives get stuck and the city suffers as a result of that,” said Gaboury.