Yesterday, student senators headed a letter-writing campaign aiming to petition Gov. Paterson for no further budget cuts, a rational tuition policy, and more operational flexibility for the SUNY system.
Senators sent an initial shipment of approximately 1,200 signatures addressed personally to the governor on Nov. 11. The petition was intended to be received before a special session of the legislature on Nov. 18. Additional petitions collected on the College Green during all college free hour yesterday were sent later that afternoon.
"We wanted as many students as possible to take this as their own project," said Student Sen. Ben DeGeorge, who helped organize the campaign.
Some students expressed concern that senators were unfairly obtaining signatures without students' understanding of what the petition was asking.
"It's just a matter of reading the petition," responded DeGeorge. He added that the points made by the half-page petition are the same that the administration and the SUNY system are lobbying for.
Senior Fiona Murray is not a student senator but volunteered to help recruit signatures.
"This is something that affects everyone," she said, expressing hope that yesterday's efforts would create visibility for the issue.
"I think it's great that there are students taking a direct initiative to decrease the budget cuts," said senior Chelsea Frankel. "The SUNY education system is incredibly important."
Others, such as junior Robyn Reynolds, were more skeptical.
"I think it's stupid that the only way Gov. Paterson can determine which [budget items] are more important is the weight of the manila envelope he receives," she said, adding that she hoped the governor would exercise an informed method of assessing where to make cuts.
The current 2008-2009 budget cuts have accumulated to $2,423,707.