On February 7th, the student NYPIRG chapter, accompanied by members of various other student organizations: Achilles, Asian American Students Club, Future Teachers, Haraya, Honors Students, Student Organization of Latinos (S.O.L.), and The Vignette, joined faculty in Albany, New York, for NYSUT’s Higher Education Lobby Day. In total, about 44 students and 9 faculty members visited Senator Jack Martins, Assemblyman Edward Ra, Senator Steven Rhoads, Assemblywoman Jennifer Slagen-Bobersky, Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, Assemblyman Steve Stern, and Senator Kevin Thomas. The main ask: more state funding for community colleges. (A big thank you to Valerie Lagakis who oversaw much of the organization for the students’ bus trip and to both her and Katherine Cho for chaperoning the students on that long day’s bus trips!)
Our lawmakers were very impressed with our students, who spoke extremely well, sharing hopes that the state will give greater funding to community colleges so that tuition and student fees may be lowered. One shared that that although he and many other students he knows were admitted to four-year colleges, they can’t afford them, so they came to Nassau Community College. They shared their experiences working several jobs trying to pay tuition and fees at NCC. One student asked for state funding to repair buildings and make the College accessible to those with disabilities. Another student, a political science major, noted that she had difficulty scheduling courses in her major because there aren’t faculty to teach the needed courses. The importance of student clubs, and funding for them, was also emphasized; one student noted that S.O.L. provides a “home,” a place where people fully understand his experiences. Students expressed frustration with funding cuts to student clubs.
Financial Aid Advisor Doreen Davis urged legislators to modify the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) so that it covers fees as well as tuition and asked that both its family income limit and the New York Excelsior Scholarship’s family income limit be raised. Several faculty pointed out that over the past 20 years, as New York State reduced its funding of public colleges, tuition increased, and, as a result, enrollment dropped, especially at community colleges across the state.
Have you sent an email to your state senator and assemblymember in support of NYSUT’s New Deal for Higher Education, yet? Click here. You may also want to check out the NYSUT action link on our Call to Action page! NYSUT is asking for a $4.7 billion investment in SUNY, CUNY, and community colleges. NYSUT seeks $439.3 million in operating support and $100 million in student support at SUNY community colleges. You can read more at http://nysut.cc/newdeal4highered.