In this week’s readings, austerity came up in several articles. During the COVID-19 crisis, the response was a reduction of funding for public services. For higher education, budget cuts included dismissing thousands of adjunct faculties. The consequences of these austerity measures are harming students and faculty. People of color and women are disproportionately affected as they make up a majority of those who were laid off, threatening gender and racial representation. Students also struggle with fewer course options, larger class sizes and limited schedule choices. This brings more challenges to graduating and professors are less able to offer support. Austerity makes it challenging for CUNY to support low income, BIPOC students who have historically been excluded from higher education.
Public institutions like CUNY need more funding during this crisis. Meanwhile, budgets for the police are increasing. The contrast between a police officer in expensive riot gear and a nurse wearing a trash bag as makeshift PPE is ridiculous. Many articles agree that funding has been distributed incorrectly; money going towards policing and incarceration should be redistributed to support education and healthcare instead. At the core of underfunding is the devaluing of people of color and people of the working class. There is somehow budget for surveillance and oppression but not for maintaining institutions and services that allows people to live.