Hundreds of protesters descended upon Baruch College yesterday afternoon to intervene a CUNY Board of Trustees meeting, which was expected to decide on yet another tuition rise. With the main Baruch building on 55 Lexington Ave. sealed off by a hefty presence of NYPD, the surreptitious meeting went ahead uninterrupted, passing a series of $300 annual tuition hikes over a course of five years. The rally, however, managed to avoid the kind of run-ins with the police that saw 25 arrests at the previous demonstration last Monday—yesterday just 3 arrests were made.
The 15-to-1 vote means that by the 2015-16 school year, CUNY undergraduates would have to pay $6,330 per year for tuition, in comparison to last year’s $4,830, an increase of 31 percent by the end of the five-year period.
Demands at the rally were not limited to lowering tuition–many clamored for the immediate resignation of CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and the abolishment of the current CUNY Board of Trustees. Unions such as UAW (United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America), PSC-CUNY (Professional Staff Congress CUNY), TWU (Transportation Workers Union), and Internationalists also showed a strong turn-out Monday, making up at least a third of a rally that was spearheaded by CUNY students in conjunction with a large number of CUNY faculty members.
In anticipation of the protest, all classes after 3:00PM were cancelled, with routine access to the building denied by a legion of NYPD. The police were lined up behind metal railings that claustrophobically hemmed in protesters like sardines on pedestrian sidewalks on the block by the building’s entrance, along 25th St. between Lexington and 3rd Avenue.
The rally was relentlessly restive; the claustrophobia and general outrage at last week’s mass arrests at CUNY seemed to circulate an apprehensive air of spite towards the police and the Board. More excitable protesters howled “Fuck the p’O’lice,” and others scathingly hissed at individual officers. However, the festive temper to which student rallies are naturally inclined (this time courtesy of an omnipresent marching band in green) sufficed to make sure things did not go overboard.