Former Wall Street executive Ray McGuire is among several mayoral candidates who responded to The Envoy’s survey on CUNY policy. The following are McGuire’s raw answers to the survey. To read the article about all of the mayoral candidates’ survey responses, click here.
1. What role do you believe the city and state should play in funding community colleges? Should such colleges be tuition-free?
Community colleges and public universities are an essential piece of any functioning democracy. The CUNY system is perhaps the largest engine of economic opportunity and mobility in the city. I’m someone who was given a shot at a good education and I took it. I believe every New Yorker deserves that shot, and CUNY is an essential piece of this. I believe we need to expand proven programs like ASAP and START that promote success for those most at-risk. We need to make sure that the governor’s Excelsior Grant program is implemented in full, meaning students from families who make up to $125,000, should attend tuition-free. This means ensuring applicants receive proper application assistance and that we regularly evaluate whether the program is reaching its intended targets. Last, we should make sure that those who are above that threshold are given smart financial guidance on what combination of loans and scholarships is best for them. We should focus our investments and limited funds on those who need the most support.
2. What role do you believe the state should play in funding senior colleges? Should such colleges be tuition-free?
State funding, as a percentage of CUNY funding, has been declining over the past several years. This is a worrisome trend. If the state is going to get twice the board representation, they should certainly be paying more than just half of the bill. That said, we need to support CUNY in getting creative in raising funds beyond state and city funding. For example, as mayor, I will work to create partnerships between NYC’s major corporate employers and CUNY programs that include commitments of funds to support the education of the future workforce.
3. How would you expand job opportunities for CUNY students and graduates?
We need to create deeper connections and build relationships between CUNY programs and NYC’s employers. As mayor, I will convene the leaders of NYC’s major employers and secure commitments to ongoing communication and funding support for CUNY programs. This means making sure the curriculum aligns with the needs of employers, active recruiting on campus, and career shadowing opportunities. I will partner with CUNY programs in technology, computer science, and management to make it the #1 supplier of tech talent to NYC companies and double the number of underrepresented New Yorkers graduating with STEM degrees. This is part of my economic Comeback Plan, which covers the ways that I will create thousands of jobs for New Yorkers as we exit the pandemic. Among other initiatives, I will provide a wage-subsidy for small businesses, create local job hubs in every borough, launch infrastructure projects, and guarantee a summer job to every high school student who wants one.
4. Would you expand mental health and wellness funding and services for CUNY students? If so, how?
CUNY faculty and students have been extremely hard hit by the pandemic. As of June, CUNY had lost more faculty and staff to COVID-19 than any other university in the country. There is no doubt that these numbers have gotten worse since then. Trauma affects students’ ability to focus, faculty’s ability to teach, and ultimately hurts learning. As the son of a social worker, I know we must ensure every student and member of CUNY staff has access to proactive, quality mental health support. We need to make sure the faculty is trained in trauma-informed instruction, and that they have the appropriate mental health and social support staff funded in advance of reopening.
5. How would you support CUNY students experiencing food and/or housing insecurity?
We need to make sure that CUNY students are supported in accessing the city’s social safety net by training CUNY support staff on what services are available to students and their families and deploying them to reach out to students who need them. As mayor, I will work to make sure that no New Yorker is worried about their next meal by partnering with community groups, restaurants, grocery stores, and small and large businesses to create a live map of food insecurity and make sure that our resources reach people where they are. We need to think ahead of the eviction crisis that could be upon us after the moratorium ends. We must keep those with a place to stay in their homes by providing rental subsidies, legal assistance, and working with the federal government to expand section 8 vouchers.
6. How would you decide who to appoint to the CUNY board of trustees?
I will work to appoint trustees that reflect the diversity and lived experiences of the students and faculty of CUNY. I will prioritize individuals with management experience, experience working in higher education, and commitment to supporting at-risk students to help them remain in school and complete their degrees. I will also look for individuals that have an understanding of the private sector and broad employment trends, so we can continue to ensure CUNY is preparing students for in-demand jobs and creating a true career pipeline.