Wednesday, December 4th CUNY Students rise up against Citibank and student debt
Citibank provides prepaid cards to students receiving financial aid and/or work-study. What they don’t tell you is that the card is riddled with hidden fees. Also, it allows Citibank to use student financial aid as a short term loan for themselves. CUNY gives Citibank a 300 million dollar loan via its Scholar Support Card.
On Wednesday, December 4th, as part of the New Day New York December 5th Day of Action and Week of Action, students are holding an action outside of Citibank to protest a card system that allows wall street to skim off of CUNY students.
“ When the aid checks are deposited students won’t be able to access their money for a couple days. During that time the bank can use that money as it pleases, probably for its own investing. As CUNY student financial aid amounts to some $300 million a year, that’s a lot of money. So in essence, every year, some of the economically poorest students in the nation will be giving Citibank, the world’s second biggest bank, an interest-free, $300 million loan with which it can make some easy profit. In sum, the bank is acting as a carpetbagger.
What is Citibank’s record?
CUNY’s choice of Citibank is disturbing as the bank’s record is characterized by anti-student policies, racism and union-busting. In October 1995, the Campaign for an America that Works awarded Citibank its “Hog of the Month” award for the bank’s lobbying efforts to kill direct student lending. The federal loans permit students loans directly from the government without exorbitant fees or interest. Citibank lobbied against these loans because it wishes to force students to receive loans through commercial banks. That would allow the banks to gouge students with fees.
In 1989, Citibank tightened credit for students seeking to obtain U.S.-guaranteed loans through the bank. According to the Wall Street Journal, Citibank drafted guidelines to deny loans to students at schools whose default rates topped 25%. Wrote the Journal, “[The policy] would potentially hit hundreds of…colleges that cater to low-income students and minorities. Federal surveys have shown that several branches of the City University of New York…have default rates above 25%.” In other words, Citibank created a policy that discriminated against CUNY students.
In 1988, Citibank denied some University of California students credit cards because of the students’ ages and majors. According to the Oakland Tribune, Citibank had a policy of denying cards to humanities majors because of their alleged poor credit histories. “They’ve targeted [their services at] student groups they think will have higher-paying jobs, such as MBA students,” the Tribune quoted a Stanford business professor.
Such discrimination extends to Citibank’s lending practices. A federal report published in October 1997 showed Citibank three times more likely to reject black loan applicants than white. In a May 1996 report, NYC Public Advocate Mark Green showed the bank had closed a slew of branches in low-income neighborhoods, many in New York’s black and Latino communities. Green accused Citibank of “financial segregation”. One Bronx councilwoman accused Citibank of “total insensitivity” to the neighborhood she represents.
CUNY’s involvement with Citibank is akin to assisting a company still operating in apartheid South Africa. Tellingly, Citibank was the last American bank to divest out of South Africa. The bitter ender bank didn’t leave until 1987, years after an anti-apartheid divestiture campaign had begun.
Discrimination also characterizes the bank’s union-busting. In 1994, Citibank hired a new cleaning and maintenance firm. The new employer refused to rehire the janitors, many of them minority, who had previously cleaned Citibank branches. These workers, members of Local 32B-32J, earned $13.10 an hour with generous benefits. Instead, the new firm hired non-union workers for $7 per hour. Citibank supports the arrangement, calling the halved wages “moderately less rich.”The union has accused Citibank of “destroy[ing] the living standards of minority workers” and “pitt[ing] two groups of minority workers against each other.”
MCI is vehemently anti-union. In 1986, MCI fired 450 workers at its Southfield, Michigan sales office despite high profits there and just eight days after employees had notified MCI their intention to organize a union.”
CUNY students organize in opposition to the BoT
Following the events of this semester - the arrest of several students among those protesting David Patraeus and the militarization of CUNY; along with the dismantling of the Guillermo Morales-Assata Shakur Community Center at City College - a growing number of students have been organizing in resistance to the CUNY Board of Trustees.
On Monday, November 25th CUNY students, along with the Professional Staff Congress and Transit Workers Union, participated in a day of action focused around opposition to a proposed CUNY Policy on Expressive Activity.
After a press conference at CUNY Central a group of around one hundred people participated in march down 3rd Ave to Baruch College where a CUNY Board of Trustees meeting was being held. Prior to the Board meeting at 4pm, people from the participating groups spoke out to address the crowd.
Following some music, courtesy of Rude Mechanical Orchestra, as the light faded away and the air became colder everyone said their goodbyes and eventaully went home. It might seem like the months of planning meetings and coordination that happened among the people standing outside Baruch College that day resulted in just a relatively quiet day of protest, but that’s not quite what happened.
What is happening is that the student movement in New York City is growing stronger; and the attacks on students and liberated spaces within CUNY reveal an increasing desperation on the part of the Board of Trustees to quell dissent. The CUNY Policy on Expressive Activity is clearly a preemptive attack on student’s right to freedom of assembly and expression ahead of what the Board of Trustees knows will be a time of increasing student resistance.
Five years in to an economic crisis, with no end in sight, it has never been more clear how important it is to defend New York’s public systems of higher education from creeping corporate influence and the corruption of those in power. The March of the BoT may have only been a public demonstration of maybe two hundred people, but it’s purpose wasn’t to gather a large crowd. What the students and other folks gathered there that day meant to do was to send a message to the Board of Trustees meeting nearby. A message that there is an entire community around CUNY made up of students, faculty, and the public that all have a vested interest in CUNY - and the people in that community are prepared to defend themselves.
CUNY students, Professional Staff Congress, and Transit Workers Union to Hold Press Conference, March, and Rally at CUNY Board of Trustees Meeting
MEDIA ADVISORY for November 25, 2013
CONTACT: Biola Jeje, 347.681.5923
New York, NY - City University of New York students, Professional Staff Congress, and Transit Workers Union are planning a day of action on Monday, November 25th, against the CUNY administration’s undemocratic policies that stifle dissent, foster militarism, and narrow educational access to the people of New York. The day of action will include a 1:30pm press conference outside CUNY Central Offices, then a 2pm march to Baruch College, followed by a 3pm rally with music outside Baruch’s Vertical Campus Building, inside which the CUNY Board of Trustees will hold a 4pm business meeting.
This day of action—”March on the CUNY Machine”—will continue the Fall 2013 semester’s resistance to militarism and the repression of student dissent, most recently demonstrated by CUNY’s undemocratic seizure of the Morales/Shakur Community Center at City College, and the suspension and jailing of students exercising their right to free speech and assembly. Students call for the restoration of the Center, and an end to the increasing encroachment of the U.S. military in CUNY by the hiring of former CIA Director and Military Officer David Petraeus, and the return of Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
“CUNY has been grossly exercising their power with the jailing of two students, the police brutality against student protestors, barring students from speaking events due to their political activity, and the new ‘Expressive Conduct Policy’,” said Alyssia Osorio, Director of the Morales Shakur Center, President of Students for Educational Rights, and student at CCNY. ”Student activism, leadership, and community building is under attack, and it’s directly affecting the marginalized communities these students serve. We need the students, faculty, alumni, and community to rise to the occasion and stand up for what’s right.”
This event is being coordinated by CUNY students and faculty in New York Students Rising, Free University, Students for Educational Rights, StudentBlocNYC, CUNY Divest, and more.
Follow the action on Twitter at these hashtags: #marchontheBoT #smashtheBoT #CUNYmachine
Schedule of events:
1:30pm: Press Conference in front of CUNY Central Offices, 205 E 42nd Street.
2:00pm: March to Baruch College Vertical Campus Building, 55 Lexington Avenue.
3:30: Rally outside Baruch during CUNY Board of Trustees meeting.
This Week: New York Students Rising Launches Statewide Week of Action !
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 18th, 2013
SUNY: Cody Hill - email@example.com
CUNY: Evangeline Byars - firstname.lastname@example.org
From repression of dissent on campus to rising student debt, students are fighting back!
New York Students Rising, a statewide coalition of student organizations dedicated to defending public higher education is launching a week of action from November 18th to the 22nd, culminating with an action outside the CUNY Board of Trustees Meeting next Monday, November 25th.
Students organized this week in order to draw attention to the crisis higher education and to build momentum for the CUNY Board of Trustees Meeting on November 25th. That day, students plan to hold a wedding outside of the meeting, highlighting how the CUNY administration has romantically courted militarism and an end to free expression on CUNY campuses via the implementation of former CIA director David Petraeus, and the illegal closure of the Morales Shakur Center at City College of New York on October 20th.
SUNY New Paltz, City College of New York, Medgar Evers College, and Brooklyn College are all taking part by holding teach-ins on student debt, sharing the history of the Morales Shakur Center, among other events, highlighting how interconnected these issues are within higher education.
Join the conversation online at by tweeting at #FreeEducationisNYSR and #FreeSpeechisNYSR on Twitter.
Calendar of Events:
Monday November 18th
12pm-2pm at City College: Wheel of Fortune Teach-in - Learn about the CUNY Board of Trustees and how they are directly involved with the recent attack on the Morales/Shakur Center.(Facebook event)
4pm at Baruch College (East 23rd Street, between Lexington Ave and 3rd Avenue): Board of Trustees Meeting.
5pm at City College, Shepard Hall: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be speaking at CCNY. Our group will announce and deliver a letter to Sotomayor about the Morales/Shakur Center.
Brooklyn College Teach-In on Student Debt:(Facebook event)
Medgar Evers College Teach-In on Student Debt: (Facebook event)
Wednesday, November 20th, 12-2pm in Shepard Hall, room 157: Student and Community Teach-In - Come learn why we defend the Morales/Shakur Community and Student Center. (Facebook event)
Thursday, November 21st
12-2pm, NAC Rotunda: Welcome to the Morales/Shakur Center Study-in - Join us as we open a study space in the Rotunda for the Morales/Shakur Center. (Facebook event)
Thursday, November 21st- “Wheel of Outrage” at Brooklyn College: (Facebook Event)
Friday, November 22nd
New Paltz :Are You Chained with Student Debt?We will be constructing a chain of debt on the Humanities Concourse to show how our debt connects us.
Saturday, November 23rd
CUNY Trustees Meeting Dress Rehearsal : Join students, faculty, and community members Saturday at the PSC office for a day of planning for the CUNY Trustees Wedding on November 25th. We will need all hands on deck and a great deal of artistic skill in making this day as colorful and theatrical as possible.
Monday November 25th, 12pm: CUNY-wide Walk Out! - We call on all CUNY students to WALKOUT to fight back against student rights to free speech and the takeover of the Morales/Shakur Center. (Facebook event)
The State University of New York is losing almost $13 million each month operating Long Island College Hospital, the organization’s chief financial officer said today…“This could lead to a tuition increase,” he said. “I want to make it clear that programs and services could go away and [people] will spend more on tuition to keep hospitals open in Brooklyn.”
We the students, faculty, staff, and community of the State University of New York and the City University of New York demand that our legislators, members of the board of trustees, and college administration to support and implement a tuition freeze, effective next year.
While NY/SUNY 2020 implemented a “rational tuition plan” for a $300 per year increase until 2015, this decision did not take into account that the core mission of CUNY was to “educate the whole people”. Years of budget cuts and tuition hikes have only priced out SUNY and CUNY for so many New Yorkers just as other needs become more and more expensive, such as rent and transportation. Compounded with this, students all over New York State and the country are dealing with growing amounts of student debt, crippling many households dealing with other costs such as housing and healthcare.
We cannot allow our academic institutions to become gentrified even as our neighborhoods are. As a state, we must push for a public education system that is more diverse and accessible, because as New Yorkers we all deserve the right to a quality college degree that is in no way prohibited by cost. With SUNY and CUNY serving so much of the New York State population, it is integral that we preserve the accessibility of these institutions as much as possible.
New York must begin to take leadership in college affordability, and the first step is now. Education is a right.
Concerned residents of New York State
Members of the Graduate Student Employees Union/CWA 1104 (GSEU) and Adjuncts Instructors from the United University Professions (UUP) joined forces on Halloween for a Grade-In to raise awareness around their low wages and often unmanageable class sizes. GSEU & UUP members showed up to grade papers, review research and prep for their classes—all in an effort to remind President Jones and the entire SUNY Albany administration that Contingent Labor—Graduate & Teaching Assistant, as well as Adjunct labor, are essential to the function of our universities because contingent labor makes up about 39% of all credits taught at SUNY Albany.
"I am a GA teaching 120 students right now and I did the math, my stipend pays me $60 per student for the entire semester. Doesn’t the University at Albany administration think our students are worth more than that?" said Nicole D’Anna, GSEU Chief Steward & 4th year PhD student in Sociology
Contingent labor often teaches the foundational courses across departments, making them the first contact for undergraduates entering SUNY Albany, but they are compensated so poorly many take on second jobs.
Vincent Commisso, a Political Science adjunct in the process of writing his dissertation offered his experience of working at a nearby cafe while teaching, “I get paid more to make sandwiches for my students than I do to teach them in a college course. Our universities are broken.”When most folks think of university education, poverty-level wages for campus educators and support staff don’t come to mind but that’s what thousands of GTAs and Adjuncts are facing in the SUNY system. The average pay per course is $2,800 for adjuncts and around $13,000 per year for GTAs. The Self-Sufficiency Wage for 1 adult in Albany County is around $22,000.The event ran for 3 hours and the dozen or so folks who showed up during the first 30 minutes had taught nearly 3,000 students total in their time at SUNY Albany.
Why I got Arrested
- Angelica Clarke, New York Students Rising
As part of New York Students Rising, I fight for public higher education justice, which is inextricably linked to the fight to immigration reform because undocumented students have little-to-no access to aid and are often forced to choose between continuing their education or rejoining their family. I risked arrest because the pendulum in this country can swing closer to justice if we acknowledge the connections between our struggles. All undocumented people should be able to come out of the shadows and have the opportunity to receive an education that prepares them for a more democratic future that I am standing up for—a future with a path to citizenship for all 11 million aspiring Americans.
Angelica Clarke, arrested after blocking traffic outside of Varick St. Detention Center on Tuesday, October 29th.
Across the country, students are sitting-in, speaking out and unionizing for justice.
1. At City College, a Surprise Shutdown Sparks an Uprising
On October 19, the City College of New York closed the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Center, a community and social justice space, replacing it with a career center and setting off major protests across campus. During the raid, college officials arrested an alum who sat-in and called council members and students to notify them. Meanwhile, they shut down all buildings on campus, barring students from studying in the library—flying in the face of direct action for 24/7 library access during midterms and finals week. On October 21 and 24, hundreds of students rallied to demand the immediate return of the center. This week, there will be a protest in front of the school’s administration building as college president Lisa Staiano-Coico meets with the undergraduate student government. Students will continue to protest until the center is re-opened.
A rally to push immigration reform shut down traffic in Manhattan Tuesday and ended in the arrest of 10 protesters for disorderly conduct.
"It’s necessary for people on the hill to hear the voice of the people, and if we have to come out and show our force in this way, then that’s what we have to do," said Angelica Clarke of New York Students Rising - See more at: http://bronx.ny1.com/content/news/191259/rally-held-in-manhattan-to-push-immigration-reform#sthash.NCg67Ik0.dpuf
New York Students Rising stands in solidarity with the students of City College of New York and the larger Harlem community in the struggle to reinstate the Morales-Shakur Community Center.
The Guillermo Morales - Assata Shakur Community Center is a crucial space which students and community members struggled to create and maintain. The Center has been a safe space for cultivation and support of the City College and Harlem community, and is a necessary space to allow students to thrive and organize against oppression. Many strong organizers with New York Students Rising have been working out of this space alongside Students for Educational Rights, Occupy Syllabi, and a number of other important groups to fight for fair and transparent grading policies and access to resources while fighting against antidemocratic administrative policies, racism, imperialism, militarization, rape culture, heterosexism and cissexism. The seizure and appropriation of the Morales-Shakur Center by the CUNY/CCNY administration is a disgraceful and unacceptable attempt to disempower and silence students. The treatment of protesters and organizers by CCNY university officials, the New York Police Department, and City College Public Safety have been deplorable attacks on the basic rights of students and community members. New York Students Rising, as a statewide coalition of student and youth organizers fighting for liberatory and accessible higher education for all, condemns the attack on the Morales-Shakur Center. We see this as an attack on students and communities of color everywhere, and believe that fighting for the Morales-Shakur Center is absolutely necessary to preserve one of the only community-powered, liberated spaces left in New York’s higher education institutions.
We stand in solidarity with the students of City College and the people of the Harlem community, and we demand that the Guillermo Morales – Assata Shakur Community Center be reinstated immediately as a safe space under student and community control.
NYSR Week of Action to Defend Higher Education
Save the Date: November 18th-22nd
NYSR Week of Action to Defend Higher Education
New York Students Rising is a statewide network of students dedicated to defending public higher education that began in May of 2011. This November we are drawing attention to the fact that higher education is in crisis and are holding a week of action leading up to the CUNY Board of Trustees Meeting on November 25th.
Students statewide are mobilizing against:
- The increased repression of dissent at SUNY and CUNY, most recently with the underhanded removal of the Morales Shakur Center after that space became a hub for anti-militarization protests at CUNY.
- The rising tuition statewide, with students paying more and getting less, and the way it exacerbates the student debt crisis in the United States.
NYSR invites students all over New York State to participate in our week of action to defend public higher education on November 18th through the 22nd.
For more information on how to get involved with NYSR and learn what action is happening on your campus, please reach out to our Regional Organizers
SUNY: Cody Hill - email@example.com
CUNY: Evangeline Byars - firstname.lastname@example.org
The City College of New York’s administration on Sunday seized the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Student and Community Center, closing it off to students and community members and locking down the library during mid-terms week.
The University issued a statement saying that the Community…
CUNY Dismantles Community Center, Students Fight Back
by Shawn Carrié and Isabelle Nastasia | This article was originally posted on The New School Free Press website and is republished here with permission.
On Sunday, October 20, at 11:00 a.m., NYPD officers and CUNY security marched into the main academic center at CUNY City College unannounced, put the campus on lockdown and seized files, documents, and personal property. The surprise action by the administration sparked an outcry from students, who gathered nearby to rally with the students who police officers had forced out of the building. In the process, police arrested student activist and US Army Veteran David Suker.
The administration had given no prior warning for the abrupt shutdown. Earlier that day, the CCNY Library Staff emailed all students with the new building hours for the upcoming week. The main academic center which houses a study center, a library, and computer labs, was closed to students, leaving them without a place to study during midterms. Four hours later, police officers forcibly removed students without warning or explanation.