Professors arrested at Baruch College protest

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested 17 members of the City University of New York’s faculty and union members following a protest at East 25th Street where they demanded better funding that included a raise. The protest occurred on December 10 during a meeting of the CUNY Board of Trustees, which approves the university’s annual budget request.

Among those arrested for disorderly conduct were Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress union, PSC’s first vice president Andrea Vasquez and PSC secretary Nivedita Majumdar, in addition to other union members, professors and adjuncts throughout the CUNY system.

Police said that the protesters were yelling loudly, chanting and blocking the entrance of Baruch College at 55 Lexington Avenue at around 5 p.m., preventing people from going inside the main entrance and preventing people from leaving for more than 10 minutes. Baruch Public Safety asked the protesters to leave and they allegedly refused to do so.

The Chief-Leader reported last week that the union still hasn’t received an economic offer and their contract expired last November. PSC has been campaigning to get the board of trustees at CUNY to fight for funding from the state to maintain the university system’s campuses and support the doubling of adjunct pay to $7,000 per course.

A representative for CUNY told Town & Village this week that negotiations are ongoing.

Bowen, who is an English professor at Queens College in addition to being president of the union, addressed the crowd at the rally and called for higher wages prior to being arrested on Monday.

“Faculty salaries are thousands of dollars below those at comparable institutions, adjuncts receive poverty-level pay, college libraries are cutting hours and the students are being asked to pay higher and higher tuition,” Bowen said. “It’s time for the CUNY Board to stop defending austerity and start demanding the funding CUNY needs.”

The Twitter page for the PSC Union thanked a number of the professors and union members who were charged for their willingness to be arrested, including Bronx Community College professor Sharon Utakis, Baruch College adjunct professor Carly Smith, PSC vice president of Cross Campus Units Iris Delutro, BMCC professor Geoffrey Kurtz, PSC chapter chair Benjamin Sheppard, PSC delegate and retiree chapter member Stephen Leberstein, Graduate Center adjunct Luke Elliott-Negri and John Jay College professor Dan Pinello.

Professors Young Seo, Michael Spear, Sami Disu, Michael Fabricant, Vincent Digirolamo and James Davis were also arrested during the protest and charged with disorderly conduct.

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