Higher learning, lower maintenance: Students blast Brooklyn College for ramshackle campus

Higher learning, lower maintenance: Students blast Brooklyn College for ramshackle campus
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

More like Brokelyn College!

Dozens of Brooklyn College students protested their campus’s abysmal conditions along with roughly 100 pupils from other schools in the City University of New York’s portfolio on March 12 at a rare open meeting of the school system’s board of trustees at the Flatbush campus.

“At Brooklyn College the infrastructure is crumbling,” said Corrinne Greene, a junior studying theater. “I can’t overemphasize that.”

The students complained that they are sick of the missing ceiling tiles, broken bathrooms, and lack of adequate funding at Brooklyn College. Faculty agreed, slamming Gov. Cuomo’s budget, saying it cut funds to city, further squeezing the university system.

“We’ve suffered badly from the withdrawal of state funding,” said Brooklyn College biology teacher Peter Lipke to the board at the hearing. “Our beautiful campus is crumbling.”

The clock tower in the center of campus has come to symbolize the school’s failing infrastructure.

“Our gorgeous clock tower,” said Greene, “The symbol of our school, recently stopped functioning.”

The students have started social-media campaigns to call attention to the dire conditions of the facilities, and the aptly named @cuny_brokelyn_college Instagram account has more than 200 followers. There’s also a Facebook page called Fixing Brokelyn College.

The problems go beyond unabated asbestos, damaged walls, and out-of-order bathrooms, the students complain, extending to inadequate funding of the school’s programs. The music major who runs the Facebook page complains that many of the music professors are adjuncts only working part time, making it difficult to get help learning new pieces of music, for example.

“It’s ridiculous. I pay money to go this university, and they don’t have full-time staff, and I can’t go up to one of my teachers to ask for help,” said Allan Randall.

Construction of a new performing arts center has been pushed back many times over the past few years, according to Randall and Greene.

Students aren’t the only ones who lament conditions at the school. Brooklyn College itself admits the facilities are in need of a makeover.

“Most of the buildings at Brooklyn College are more than 50 years old, and are challenged by decades of deferred maintenance,” said a spokesman for the school.

The spokesman added that the school is working with the city and the state to make upgrades.

Greene said she believes Monday’s demonstration by students for across the city university system will make an impression on the board of trustees.

“I hope it’s a symbol to the board of trustees and shows we are mobilized together,” said Greene. “This has gone on way too long.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.