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De Blasio Supports Free CUNY

Mayor Bill de Blasio in conversation with professor Joseph P. Viteritti
Photo by Matt Capowski

Just three weeks before Bill de Blasio ends his second term in office as mayor, he shared his support for a free CUNY at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute.

At the hybrid event last Tuesday, an audience member asked how he will make CUNY more affordable again over Zoom. “The notion of going back to the tuition-free model is exactly what we need to find a pathway to,” said de Blasio. The room, partially filled with students, audibly responded with excitement.

Recent Rhodes Scholar recipient Devashish Basnet, was inspired by his words. “I really appreciated him talking about the importance of making CUNY free again,” said Basnet. “I think investing in public education is the answer to so much.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio with Rhodes Scholar Devashish Basnet
Photo by Matt Capowski

However, to enact such a change, de Blasio would have to continue his career in public service. Throughout the event de Blasio offered several hints about possibly running for governor of New York. The moderator, professor Joseph P. Viteritti even asked him outright what his future plans are, but de Blasio would not say for sure.

“I’ve been very clear. I am going to keep in public service. I mean, it’s just who I am, I believe in it, I care about it. It’s my heart and soul,” said the mayor. “I want to do more for the city, for the state.”

Viteritti also asked de Blasio about what he thinks his successes were while in office; the mayor responded that it was his universal pre-kindergarten initiative. The program has been able to provide free, full-day schooling to all 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds.

De Blasio says that investing in education, by aiding public schools first, was the best way to invest in the people of the city. He sees it as an extension of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. De Blasio said his largest goal as mayor was to reflect those ideals of helping people, and “reaching them personally.”

At the end of the event, de Blasio thanked anyone in the audience who is going into or has been a part of public policy. “It all adds up,” said the mayor. “It helps us move forward and it is a constant passing of the baton from one group of people to the next, but it just never stops. So we always need more people who have that spirit to come forward.”

Ndeye Ndione, whose class at the Roosevelt House right before the event started, was moved by this closing note. “I thought the message he said at the end was inspiring. I feel like COVID has made me be in despair about where the city’s going,” said Ndione. After hearing de Blasio end with such encouraging remarks for people in public policy, it gives her hope for the future.

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