Tuesday, December 22, 2009



Press Contacts: Leanne Tory- Murphy (516) 458- 3454 Luz Schreiber (917) 628-9751

December 21, 2009 -- At around 4:30 p.m. this afternoon, the New York State Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that will prevent Hunter from starting construction planned during the holiday break to convert one of the four classrooms of the college's Children's Learning Center (CLC) to administrative offices. The announcement came as over 75 Hunter students with children and their supporters rallied at the college.
A video of the announcement:

Korima, a mother who uses the center, said, "Today was a success. The people we wanted to hear us not only heard us, but they saw us, and importantly, thanks to another member staying in court the judge ruled in our favor!"

The lawsuit was filed this afternoon by Hunter student-parents Luz Schreiber and Angela Molfetas on behalf of Hunter parents and their children, seeking to stop the college from cutting back the CLC's quality childcare services.

Molfetas - who was in the room when the order was signed - said of the decision, "Today I got the opportunity to see a glimpse of justice. I am heartened by the judge's decision to temporarily cease the construction. I hope that this is one step on the way to well-promoted childcare services that enable parents to access higher education."

The peaceful afternoon rally was marked by aggression on the part of campus police. When some demonstrators moved to take their concerns inside, where the Dean of Student Services, Eija Ayravainen - a defendant in the lawsuit - stood watching, campus police roughly shoved the group, which included mothers and their children, into the entry ways and prevented them from entering the building. One person was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, as well as apparent riot charges. His case is pending.
A video of police interactions with students:

The TRO will prevent CUNY and Hunter from reassigning Room 209 for use for any purpose other than childcare or undertaking any construction for the purpose of preparing Room 209 for any purpose other than childcare until the student-parents can be heard by the court at 4:00 p.m. on January 21, 2010 in Part 17 at 60 Centre Street. The student-parents and their children are represented by Gideon Orion Oliver and Ronald B. McGuire.

Student-parents and their supporters have opposed the taking of Room 209 for administrative purposes since the decision was announced during the last week of classes last May. They say Hunter should be expanding, not cutting back, these services, and that the administration has tried to cover up the losses of services that will result from the planned cuts. Their campaign has found a broad array of support from CUNY students and staff, including the Professional Staff Congress, CUNY's staff union and has received letters of support from New York City Council Higher Education Committee members Charles Barron and Ydanis Rodriguez.

Raab initially refused to meet with student-parents and their children, and Dean Ayravainen called Hunter's on-site childcare a "luxury". In response, Mr. Barron declared, "Childcare is not a luxury, it is a necessity for struggling working families and students at CUNY. Maintaining and expanding childcare services should be a priority at Hunter College."

Copies of the court papers are available upon request.

For 26 years, the Children's Learning Center has provided high-quality, affordable childcare to Hunter students with children. The proposed childcare cuts run counter to Hunter's tradition of supporting women's education and serving a student body representative of the diversity of New York City. Almost 1 in 10 Hunter students are parents.

Since June, a petition to save Room 209 has garnered over 3,000 signatures. In October, a majority of the Hunter Senate voted against cuts to childcare space and services.

Many of the teachers at the CLC are graduates of Hunter's renowned School of Education. Yet, the educational services and childcare provided at the CLC have been chronically under-promoted. "It saddens me to see that this administration is diminishing this model program, as opposed to upholding and promoting it for the precious gem that it is," declared Charlotta Nutley at today's rally. Nutley is a Hunter student and mother of two daughters who currently attend the CLC.

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