Dear Commons Community,
Douglas A. Medina, a PhD candidate in the Political Science Program here at the CUNY Graduate Center, has just published an article on the history of open admissions and the subsequent imposition of tuition at CUNY. Entitled, Open Admission and the Imposition of Tuition at the City University of New York, 1969–1976: A Political Economic Case Study for Understanding the Current Crisis in Higher Education, he revisits many of the issues and players of the period. Douglas also relates his investigation to higher education today. As stated in the abstract (see below), his examination of the policies reveals an ideological struggle between meritocracy, as grounded in the individualist ideal of the American Dream and equality and democracy, as grounded in calls for inclusion, access, solidarity, and empowerment. His class analysis offers a critical context for understanding the current transformation of higher education beyond CUNY.
It is a great piece of research that anyone interested in the history of American higher education will find important.
Between 1969 and 1976 the City University of New York (CUNY) experienced two monumental policy transformations. These transformations were a result of changes in the political economy of New York City and State leading class struggles to erupt between and among groups. This article highlights two of these struggles: first, what came to be known as the “open admissions” policy, one of five demands made by students and their supporters in 1969–1970 at City College, and second, the imposition of tuition for undergraduate students in 1975–1976, a neoliberal condition set by business and political elites designed to privatize and commodify CUNY. In contrast to existing policy studies and sociology of education approaches to the study of CUNY, which are approaches limited by their ideologically liberal focus on outcomes that lead to “racial disparity” and inequality of individual achievement, an alternative class analysis is proposed that entails the concrete historical, political, economic, and ideological context of these struggles and their causes. The examination of both policies reveals an ideological struggle between meritocracy, as grounded in the individualist ideal of the American Dream and equality and democracy, as grounded in calls for inclusion, access, solidarity, and empowerment. The resulting class analysis offers a critical context for understanding the current transformation of higher education beyond CUNY.