Author Archives: Byunghwa Kim

Week 2 COVID, CUNY, and International students

As I read through all the articles and op-eds, I came to know what is going on in universities in the U.S. and NYC, including CUNY. I could imagine about difficulties that U.S. universities are going through because of this particular COVID-19 season. But, It seems like I didn’t really know the crises the universities are facing nowadays until I read those articles and op-eds. A lot of faculty members and staff of universities suffered from getting the COVID viruses, and unfortunately, some of them even passed away (4 CUNY professors died from the COVID virus until September according to Kelsey).

One of the biggest problems the universities now have, in my opinion, is massive budget cuts in this COVID-19 season. The public universities that depend on local and federal governments for the schools’ running have been attacked tremendously due to their local governments’ funding reductions. Since many local governments are going through fiscal deficits due to the decrease of tax incomes, the local governments first cut their budgets spending on welfare policies, and numerous workers were laid off, including adjuncts and assistants in colleges.

Some of CUNY colleges underwent the same experience. For example, Brooklyn College administrators requested that their departments cancel 25% of the 2020 fall courses. With close to 3,000 laid off until September 2020, the large-scale restructuring of Brooklyn college caused many to lose health insurance as well. The real problem is that this situation is not only the case of CUNY, but most colleges in the U.S. also went through in 2020.

Another the eye-catching piece of information I received through the articles I read is regarding CUNY’s history and their financial management change. I did not know CUNY is the nation’s largest urban public university, founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education. Also, I didn’t realize that CUNY’s tuition was free at all from 1847-1975. New York City imposed tuition in 1976 for the first time, and most of the students affected by the new school tuition policy at that time were people of color.

Interestingly, The city and state governments now have a combined budget surplus of $1.9 billion. A free CUNY would only cost $812 million (based on the analysis of FREE CUNY). That is, a free CUNY could be possible in the future again.

As an international student studying in the U.S., I found very interesting news related to my status. As many states’ spending fell, the international tuition dollars at public universities jumped by 12 percent. The international students’ tuition now makes up 28 percent of public university revenue, 40 percent more than it did a decade ago. Are international students just money-makers vital to the survival of American universities? No, it shouldn’t be! Therefore, I would like to argue that international students’ tuition should be as the same amount of money as the locals pay. However, the reality is not like that. This is the point I want to make for the class discussion.