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CUNY's Hunter College's Funding Dilemma




MARK GILCHRIST, HOST:

New York City’s Hunter College is going through a bit of a rough patch.

Students are complaining of broken, boarded-up windows, leaky ceilings, and a general lack of cleaning and maintenance.


But, the college is not entirely to blame. As Julian Abraham reports, they are waiting on the state of New York to increase funding.


ABRAHAM: When I got to Hunter College’s nursing campus on East 25th street, the entrance sign was so chipped and faded, I almost missed it. There was broken concrete I almost tripped on, cars parked on what used to be a tennis court, and broken windows.


ABRAHAM: Further uptown, at the main Hunter campus, there is a chorus of jackhammers and construction.


ALEX: I mean, you hear construction in the background, so hopefully they’re fixing something (laughs)


ABRAHAM: That’s Alex, a Psychology student who didn’t want to give her real name. Inside, I met up with Zhuo Yin, a doctoral student in physics. He showed me what's supposed to be the water fountain on his floor… it's now just a hole in the wall


ZHUO YIN: Take a look here: empty hole

ABRAHAM: It’s just literally a hole. And there’s WIND coming out of the hole!

Yin: Yeah.


ABRAHAM: To get to the nearest drinking water, he has to go to the opposite end of campus. Out of the 10 elevators, only a few work.


YIN: This one doesn’t work. This one doesn’t work. This one basically works. These three basically work.


ABRAHAM: After about a 20-minute journey, we get to a water fountain in another building.


YIN: I spend like three times the amount of time you would wait to get on an elevator, waiting to get to the water fountain, so I think that’s not acceptable.


ABRAHAM: Hunter is part of the City College of New York system. Known as CUNY. According to a study from Cambridge, CUNY’s funding from New York State has been on a steady decline since 2008, and the city has tried to cut it more since then. Though spokespersons for Hunter College declined an interview, they did send a statement.

In the statement, they said they have endured years of under-funding, along with the challenges of the pandemic, and damage from Hurricane Ida. The statement also said they’ve spent $25 million of their own money on repairs, and are now hoping for more money in the next state budget for their new nursing building. Jen Gaboury is a professor at Hunter. She and others have been appealing to the governor for help.


JEN GABOURY: And so, right now, you know, Kathy Hoko is building a stadium for the Buffalo Bills, but she can have our stadium. But she needs to reach into her pocket and enlarge the pie and pay for critical services. Gaboury says CUNY itself is not the one to blame for the disrepair.


GABOURY: CUNY just needs more cash


ABRAHAM: And even if they get it, they won’t be able to start fixing things until next school year.


Julian Abraham, Columbia Radio News.



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