Dear Commons Community,
Sandi Cooper sent out the email below to the University Faculty Senate listserv, stating that Judge Eileen Rakower signed a temporary restraining order blocking the $300. tuition increase that was to be implemented in September. The reason for the restraining order appears to be a procedural matter in that the motion increasing tuition was voted on by the Executive Committee and not by the full CUNY Board of Trustees.
Contact: Ronald B. MGuire: 201-795-0342
Today a state Supreme Court judge signed a temporary restraining order blocking a $300 annual undergraduate tuition increase passed by the Executive Committee of the City University of New York (CUNY) Board of Trustees “unless and until the Board of Trustees as a whole meets and takes action in accordance with the law.”
Judge Eileen Rakower ruled in a lawsuit filed yesterday by three Lehman College students, Ateo Peruyero, OyeWale Badru and Francisca Villar, (Peruyero, et al. v. Board of Trustees, etc., et al. NY County Index No. 108549/2011) The students asked the court to nullify a tuition increase passed by the Executive Committee of the CUNY Board of Trustees on July 21st. The students claimed that the state Education Law requires the entire CUNY Board of Trustees to vote on any tuition increase and that this authority cannot be delegated to the Trustees’ Executive Committee. The tuition increase passed by the Executive Committee was scheduled to take effect when CUNY’s Fall 2011 term begins on August 26th and would have raised tuition $150 per semester ($300 per year) for undergraduates with proportionate increases for graduate and part time students.
Following oral arguments this morning by attorneys representing the students and CUNY, the judge stated that the petitioners had shown a likelihood of success on the merits and that there would be irreparable harm if the court did not block the $300 tuition increase until the entire board of trustees could consider it.
The restraining order signed by Judge Rakower states:
“Until this Petition is heard, Respondents are enjoined and restrained from:
(i) taking any action to implement the Tuition Resolution passed by Respondent Executive Committee on July 21, 2011, or
(ii) charging or collecting tuition in excess of the levels charged by CUNY during the spring 2011 academic term,
(iii) unless and until the board of trustees as a whole takes action in accordance with the law.”
Judge Rakower scheduled the next hearing on the case for Tuesday, August 30 at 11 AM in room 308 at IAS Part 15 of the State Supreme Court at 80 Centre Street in Manhattan – after Fall 2011 classes begin at CUNY on August 26th.
The restraining order will be in effect until the next hearing date unless CUNY appeals the case.
If CUNY does not appeal, then CUNY cannot raise tuition until the trustees schedule an emergency meeting to consider the issue. Any meeting of the trustees would have to comply with the state Open Meetings Law.
The Petitioners were represented by Ronald B. McGuire of New York City.
Assistant NYS Attorney General Clement J. Colucci and CUNY General Counsel Frederick Schaffer appeared for the Respondents.