I don't usually get too involved in politics but this has gotten me pretty heated. If you're a SUNY student you really need to take the time to read this.
"ALBANY (2/4/2009) – On Tuesday, Governor David A. Paterson and leaders in both the State Assembly and State Senate announced their support for a Deficit Reduction Plan (DRP) that directly taxes SUNY students in an attempt to close the 2008 budget gap. The DRP demonstrates neglect of the SUNY system, and complete disregard for New York students and their families by legislators in Albany.
In 2008 alone, SUNY funding was cut by $146 million. A $310 per semester increase in tuition was meant to minimize the effect of that decrease in state support. Instead, the $76 million that will be generated by the tuition increase will not be found on any campus or in any classroom. Rather, SUNY is left with a mere $7.6 million while the remaining $68.4 million will be used to cover up the spending mistakes of other state agencies.
Dean Skelos, the State Senate minority leader, referred to the move as "stealing" directly from students. What exactly has been stolen is not simply dollars, but the means to avoid growing class sizes, less qualified professors, reductions in course offerings, and almost no new instructional equipment at a time when more and more New Yorkers are attending SUNY or going back to school.
Jacob Crawford, trustee and president of the Student Assembly, said "SUNY students are not ATMs for the state. Tuition is not a tax. Yet, lawmakers seem convinced of the opposite. They have taxed each student in the SUNY system $279 as they have reduced state support for each student by $340. I never could have dreamed of such a gross misuse of my tuition dollars; we have truly seen the ultimate bait and switch in Albany."
The effects of this policy will be felt throughout the SUNY system. David Belsky, director of communications said, "This coup on student's tuition paired with the reduction in state support will lead to a lower quality of education than students paid for. For an ever growing number of New Yorkers, a SUNY education is the only affordable option in higher education. Unfortunately, the ineffectiveness of Albany has once again proven inefficient and outdated, and has completely marginalized an important constituency, a large voting bloc, and the future workforce of New York State."
SUNY students fear that with these policies, a decrease in the quality of education provided by the SUNY system is inevitable and unfortunate. Any increase in tuition should be used to ensure the quality of education now and that of New Yorkers for years to come.
The Student Assembly of the State University of New York is an organization created by Article XVII of the guidelines of the SUNY Board of Trustees. Empowering students throughout the state, the SUNY SA is committed to student life and assuring the representation of its members on the state and national level as well as throughout the SUNY system. For the latest SUNY SA news, visit www.studentassembly.org"
I was originally informed that the tuition program initially installed an 80/20 deal in which 20% of the addition tuition money would go directly to the student's SUNY school and 80% would fund NY debt. This proposition is rediculous as it stands, however, over time the proposal has escalated to 100/0. This means 100% of the money you're paying as a result of the recent tuition hike is being used for New York state debt and bailouts and none of it is going to your school or your classrooms. As an out-of-state student, I think that this is particularly preposterous, there is absolutely no reason to tax the students to fund the state.
The one action that I know we all can take right now is to sign the online petition against this program at STUDENTASSEMBLY.ORG
The goal is to reach 1,000,000 signatures in two weeks, which I think is entirely possible if people are motivated. Anyone can sign this petition, that means ask your friends, your parents, your aunts, your uncles, and your little sister. For more information, check the Student Assembly website and join the growing Facebook group.