By: Sydney Umstead, News Editor
The New York State Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has announced its 2024 legislative priorities.
The final release was forwarded to The Griffin after thorough deliberation of the primary issues and an approval by the AAUP’s executive council.
Five areas of focus for the council outline budgetary faults amongst higher education institutions in New York State. The first topic claims that “Higher Education is in crisis in New York State.” Furthermore, “Spending on higher education now is a mere 6% of the state budget when it used to be around 12%.” This especially poses a problem at “non-unionized private colleges and universities in NY state.” A dip in funding has also meant “faculty salaries have stagnated in comparison to the cost of living.” The first statement ends with the argument that “it is unjust for accredited higher education institutions that receive state funding to pay poverty wages to adjunct faculty.”
The second part of the release states that “statewide, universities devote less money towards academics than in the past.” Moreover, “Faculty members, even tenured ones, are being laid off.” The AAUP cited a ripple effect of loss in faculty which causes “an unjust increase in the use of part-time or adjunct labor.” Concludingly, the “primary statement of legislative goals emphasizes that funding from NY state should specifically go towards academics — towards
faculty and students.”
Per the third pillar, private institutions, “which confer close to 60% of all bachelor’s and graduate degrees in NYS, increase Direct Institutional ‘Bundy’ Aid.” Bundy Aid is currently “funded at $35 million, just 18% of the statutory level.” This aid “helps keep college affordable for the nearly 500,000 students studying at NYS private, non-profit colleges and
universities.” Secondly, “Students increasingly need mental health services on university campus.” The AAUP notes as well that “many faculty and staff do not have mental health care service provided to them — nor, indeed, any health care at all.”
One legislative priority discusses how “It is not only important to recruit diverse faculty but also to retain them with good pay and benefits.” Going back to the Bundy Aid, “Currently, any Bundy funds invested in faculty diversity will cause institutions to divert these funds away from student aid.”
The final statement reads, “TAP, New York’s signature financial aid program, is structured to progressively serve New York’s lowest-income families across public and private higher education.”