To Interim Graduate Center President James Muyskens, Interim Graduate Center Provost Julia Wrigley, CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez, and the CUNY Board of Trustees:
We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and we have uninsured students at the Graduate Center because CUNY has been unwilling to answer the call from the Full and Fair Funding group, the CUNY Adjunct Project, the Doctoral Student Council, and over 450 community members* who have demanded structural change to secure equity in funding and health insurance for all doctoral students.
Healthcare is a human right, and the Graduate Center has the responsibility to provide it to all students.
One third of current and incoming doctoral students at the CUNY Graduate Center – as much as 50% in some departments – receive only five-year tuition waivers or else no funding at all. Within this two-tiered system, students without Graduate Assistantships do not qualify for the New York State Health Insurance Program. Many students are forced to take on extremely precarious low-paying adjunct jobs to qualify for health insurance, and sit with the anxiety each semester that they will lose both their job and their ability to seek medical care.
The present global health situation, increasing in urgency with a case of COVID-19 already reported within the CUNY system, shows the importance of structurally guaranteed, universal access to health insurance.
The contract ratified in December of last year by the PSC has set up infrastructure for expanded access to NYSHIP. However, four months later, there have been no implemented changes in student’s access to health insurance at the Graduate Center. It is now that we must see a firm and rapid commitment from CUNY to secure non-contingent access to healthcare for all doctoral students.
We call on CUNY leadership to move quickly to eliminate the two-tiered funding structure and to provide the human right of healthcare to all students at the Graduate Center.
The Full and Fair Funding group
The CUNY Adjunct Project
*Number of signatures on our Spring 2019 open letter demanding universal graduate assistant positions and access to health insurance. To sign the letter and for more information on the Full and Fair Funding campaign, visit http://cunyadjunctproject.org/funding