Guns Across America

Young boy holding a rifle. Photo by Jacob Benavides.

Photo by Jacob Benavides

by Jasmine Martin

My friends from around the country have varying opinions on firearms and their views seem to reflect the national debate about gun reform.  Katie Wolfe from Montana said, “I shot my first gun in the backyard when I was probably six. I got my hunter’s license when I was 14 and received a rifle as a gift when I was 16 and a shotgun as a gift when I was 17.”

There have been 288 school shootings in the United States since 2009. That is 57 times as many as other nations such as Canada (2), France (2), and Japan (0). Aside from school shootings, a gunman murdered nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Then in 2016, 49 people were killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and in 2017, 58 people were killed and more than 850 were injured at a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Christopher Delgiorno, who lives in Las Vegas, said he shot his first gun when he was either eight or nine years old. He said “It’s not like everybody is strapped up but you see a lot of people open carrying in the gym, the park, etc.” But he thinks gun laws need to be made stricter to prevent school shootings and he said, “Everyone needs to be involved in prevention throughout the whole process. Instead of just arming teachers or increasing security, we need more mental and social health programs in schools and communities.”

Katie Wolf had a different opinion. She said “I don’t think the gun laws should be made any stricter. I think we could require a class to be taken to teach how to safely use a gun and encourage adults to keep them locked up where kids cannot get to them.”

In order to change some of the gun laws around the country, Americans will have to come to some sort of agreement. As of 2015, eighty-two percent of weapons used during mass shootings were purchased legally. The problem is not handguns or hunting rifles, but in most states people can purchase an AR-15 at the age of 18. This military style weapon can shoot over 100 rounds per minute. Yet because guns play a big role in the lives of millions across the country, it will be difficult to get everyone on the same page. Jacob Benavides of Texas said, “The gun culture runs so deep that people don’t even think about whether they like them or not; guns just exist, and they always will.”

CUNY Professors March on Wall Street

CUNY Adjunct Professors Protest on Wall Street for Higher Pay.

By Laura Fotovich –

John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor, Katie Surrence stood, outside the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, September 27 carrying a sign that read “CUNY needs competitive salaries.”  “I am an adjunct and I currently make $3,200 per course.  This is kind of obscene considering the amount of work and investment I put into [teaching],” she said.

CUNY faculty and students demonstrated in support of a Public Service Commission Public Staff Congress (PSC) contract that will grant adjunct professors a salary of $7,000 per course.

The demonstrators marched from the New York Stock Exchange to 100 Wall St., the office of CUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson, William Thompson. They chanted “Education is a right! Fight, fight fight!, as they marched.

“CUNY is a wonderful system, but it’s budget has been cut for decades,” said Abby Scher, an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College.  “I like teaching my one class a semester, but I would like to make a fair wage,” she added.

The demonstration began at 4 p.m. and lasted almost two hours.  Members of the CUNY faculty gave speeches throughout the afternoon.

According to the CUNY/PSC,  raising the adjunct salary to $7,000 will require additional funding.  Additionally, supporters pushed for granting tuition waivers for the students of full-time faculty and providing better support for the department chairs.

“We are almost a year out of contract and our salaries are not competitive, especially for adjuncts.  It’s really shameful what CUNY pays,” said John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor Nivedita Majumdar.  “The reason we are fighting is because we believe in what we do and we believe that our students should have the best education,” she added.

“The work we do is really valuable and we’re drastically underpaid for it,” said Hunter College adjunct professor Emily Crandall.  “We have this two-tier class system at CUNY where we do a lot of the work and we receive very little reward or recognition for it.  It’s a disservice to us and our students,” she added.

The next formal bargaining session for the CUNY PSC is scheduled for October 4.  Contract negotiations will continue at this meeting.

PSC-CUNY Protest For New Contract

PSC-CUNY teachers demonstrate for higher pay.

by, Michael C. Bohn, Sr.

 

December 4, 2017

They came armed with protest signs instead of red pens. Several hundred City University of New York (CUNY) professors came out to demand better pay and working conditions. They give the CUNY administration a failing grade for its unwillingness to support professors who teach more than 500,000 students.

The Professional Staff Congress or PSC/CUNY, the union representing more than 27,000 faculty and staff and the CUNY Research Foundation, rallied in front of the CUNY Graduate Center at Fifth Avenue at 34 Street on December 4, 2017. From there they marched 15 blocks south to Baruch College where the CUNY Board of Trustees was meeting.

Led by their bullhorn toting union president, Barbara Bowen, these seemingly mild mannered academics and support staff chanted, “What do we want? A contract. When do we want it? We want it now,” as they marched.

PSC-CUNY protest 3

Members of other unions including Local One, I.A.S.T.E., the stage hand workers union, DC 37, representing city workers, librarians, and the Union of Clerical and Technical Staff at New York University as well as SAG-AFTRA, which represents actors, joined the march to show union solidarity

The PSC/CUNY contract expired on November 30th. That freezes the pay-rate until a new contract can be agreed upon. This is particularly tough for part-time professors known as adjuncts who typically teach two classes each semester, “We teach two-thirds of a full course load and get one-third of the pay,” said Adjunct Professor David Hohl. He has had part-time status at Baruch College for seventeen years and says he earns $26,000 a year.

The union claims that 12,000 part-time adjuncts, earning $27,000 a year or less, teach more than half the courses. In a news release PSC CUNY said, “CUNY is the single most successful university in the country enabling poor and working-class graduates to achieve long-term economic security. Yet leading professors consistently turn down positions at CUNY and many current professors leave because the salaries are so uncompetitive.”

Peter Consenstein, professor of French at BMCC and the Graduate Center said, “We serve as a pipeline into better jobs and the middle class. We work our butts off.”

The pay freeze worries full as well as part-time professors, and others covered by the contract, because of the rising cost of living. The last time their contract expired it took six years to negotiate a new one. “We are not waiting six years for a new contract,” said Scott Sheidlower, staff librarian at York College in Queens.

Paula Whitlock a full-time, tenured professor of Computer and Information Science at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) said the protest and demands are important for everyone. “Either we all rise together or we all fall together,” she said.

CUNY’s reliance on part-time adjuncts reflects a practice in the corporate world where companies rely heavily on free-lance employees who don’t get the full package of benefits. The union claims underfunding by New York State and New City keeps salaries low and hampers CUNY’s mission.

“CUNY is often a political pawn in the bigger political game. When that happens students are disregarded as unimportant.” said Professor Peter Consenstein.

Supporters can follow on Twitter with the following hashtags, #7KCUNY, #FAIRPAY4ALL, and #NO6YEARWAIT.