The Office of Student Advocate

Current Student Advocate: Flavia Shyti

Office Hours: Tuesday, 12:00-1:00pm

Email: USGStudentAdvocate@Brooklyn.cuny.edu

Description

An Office of Student Advocate shall be headed by the Student Advocate. The Student Advocate shall serve as acting ambassador to all external governments at the local, state, and national level, including the New York State Legislature, and as such, shall provide advocacy services to represent the interests of Brooklyn College students. The Student Advocate shall work with the Brooklyn College Administration and the relevant Brooklyn College governance committees to improve student life generally; including the state of facilities, educational policy, academic curriculum, and club services.

Projects

Sanctuary Campus

We will do everything in our power to make sure our campus is a sanctuary for every student no matter their citizenship status, immigration status, language, accent, national origin, or geographic origin. As our college is already supportive and offers services such as the Immigration Services Support Office, we will work the Administration and ISSO to impose policy changes, and turn our campus into sanctuary college that offers maximum safety and security to student immigrants who are both documented and undocumented.

- Work to have Brooklyn College, and possibly CUNY, commit to the Sanctuary Campus Movement;

- Keeping NYPD, ICE, and other agencies from accessing our campus or information;

- Allow distance-learning options for deported students to complete their degrees;

- Advocate for undocumented students to have access to Student Activities Fees. Examples of access include compensation for student leaders, scholarships, and any emergency funds being offered.

Student Voter Awareness

Another way we plan to empower students is by activating, informing, and registering students to vote and be informed about upcoming elections. We will work with NYPIRG, USS, CUNYVotes, NYCVotes, and other non-partisan voting programs, to facilitate at least one voter registration drive every month. Each monthly drive will include an all day promotional blitz online, and about 2 hours of tabling on campus. We will register students, hand out election information, and answer any questions related to voting. USG will dedicate at least 10 separate days to encourage and inform BC students about their right to vote.

Annual Unity Summit

During the next academic school year, we are planning on coordinating a completely student based project that will invite students from all backgrounds to convene and participate in a parliamentary event. Students will be challenged to speak about what matters to them most as members of the Brooklyn College Community and they will discuss what values are most important for us to convey to the world as a diverse community of learners. Whether we take a proactive stance against hate, we reaffirm an uncompromising commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, or we simply resolve to condemn the most recent demonstration of hate, the Unity Summit will be used to capture the deep seeded values of our college and will proudly have them promoted, published, and displayed.

Following the Unity Summit, we hope to also hold a Unity Conference that promotes and celebrates the work we achieve at the Unity Summit. This will be an open event for all members of the community to attend.

Programs

Advocacy

To empower the students of BC, we believe that advocacy is the strongest tool. Students who learn how to advocate become more confident, compassionate, and critical in their thinking. We intend to organize and cosponsor advocacy trips to Albany, City Hall, and district offices, and we will help to assist students learn how to actively engage with their state and local governments and we will help students schedule meetings with their representatives.

The Political Council

A Political Council shall be a coalition of student leaders within the Brooklyn College community and shall have jurisdiction over issues concerning campus safety and security, displays of racism or hostility, other inappropriate displays on campus, overall atmosphere, appearance, cleanliness of the campus, and matters of student life, generally. The Council shall represent students to all external governments at the local, state, and national levels and shall have jurisdiction over issues concerning educational policy and programs, matters of curriculum and instruction, improvement of quality of education, organization and operation of academic support functions, and matters of academic affairs, generally. The Council may sponsor trips to the New York State Legislature to advocate for increased funding and other issues that are deemed important to the student body.

The Council shall consist of four (4) to eight (8) members and may have one (1) representative from each of the cultural organizations under USG.

2020-2021 USG Political Council Members:

Member

Grievance Reporting

The Student Advocate shall provide council to students in areas of academic or personal concern; including biased grading, gender/identity discrimination, and personal safety on campus. A Grievance Report Form will be provided for any person to fill out and submit their grievances including their information or anonymously. The option to schedule a meeting with the Student Advocate will also be provided on the form.

2020-2021 Grievance Report Form:

Free and Fully Funded CUNY

What does a Free CUNY look like?

In 1847, the “Free” Academy, now known as City College of New York, was founded as the first free public institution of higher learning in New York City, offering tuition free access to higher education.

In 1960, as various colleges were united into the City University of New York (hereafter “City University”) they remained tuition free, ensuring social mobility and economic opportunity for millions of New Yorkers over the course of more than a century (despite free tuition, many working class Black and Brown students were nevertheless unable to attend these colleges due to structural and institutional barriers to participation, leading to deep class and racial disparities in access to public higher education).

During the late 1960's, students at multiple City University campuses led a movement to ensure just access to the University for all New Yorkers, carrying out multiple direct actions, occupations, and student strikes that led to the implementation of an Open Admissions policy in 1970, guaranteeing admission to a City University institution to all those graduating from a New York City high school or with an equivalent credential; Open Admissions policy led to an important increase in the enrollment of Black and Brown students, thus changing the demographic makeup of the City University system.

However, five years after implementing the Open Admissions policy, the City University implemented tuition as a means of generating revenue. And since that time there has been a steady increase in tuition and fees, putting the burden of increasing operational and capital costs on the backs of students.

We as student leaders of USG, believe that QUALITY EDUCATION IS A RIGHT FOR ALL, that tuition and all access barriers should be eliminated completely, and that all people should have tuition free access to public institutions of higher education in the State of New York. There is sufficient wealth in the State of New York to cover the full cost of public higher education, yet the state Legislature and the Governor have declined to ensure that wealthy New Yorkers pay their fair share in taxes. Our campaign supports any cause, policy, or movement, including full funding from government, freezing tuition, reducing tuition, reimbursing tuition, or eliminating tuition completely, as long as it reflects the principle that quality education is a right for all and we work to ultimately achieve a fully funded and tuition FREE CUNY.

What does a Fully Funded CUNY look like?

A Fully Funded CUNY means adequate and fair funding from the state and city governments. Full funding includes:

- Well paid and operational faculty and staff; Including paying adjuncts 7K per class;

- Well maintained and operational campuses and facilities that are safe, inclusive, and accessible. Accessibility justice;

- A university that is equitable to all students and has zero tolerance for hate of any kind, and will act swiftly against barriers to participation or acts of discrimination;

- Fully staffed and operational health centers, childcare centers, and food pantries on every campus;

- Investment in sustainability strategies and renewable energy, including divestment from fossil fuels;

- Free healthcare and mental health services, including high contact personal counseling;

- Robust and high contact career development and academic advisement;

- Full support for economically vulnerable students including services such as free transit, textbooks, housing, food, and health and hygiene products;

- Technological development, modernization, and advancement, including investment into Open Educational Resources (OER);

- Emergency preparedness and adaptability; including developing a safety evacuation plan for community members of different ages and abilities;

- Clean, safe, and secure classrooms and learning environments that allow peaceful learning.

How will a free and fully funded CUNY be achieved?

Education and Movement Building



Demonstration and Coalition Building



Legislation and Alliance Building