Students lobby against SUNY budget cuts in Albany

On Tuesday, students from Geneseo and other SUNY and CUNY schools spoke with state legislators about how the proposed budget could hurt the schools and students.

Student Association Vice President senior Dean McGee said the idea to send Geneseo students to Albany came out of SUNY Day, a Feb. 24 event where representatives from SUNY institutions advocate for their schools and make requests for legislative initiative grants.

McGee attended the event with President Christopher Dahl, SA President senior Danielle Forrest and Assistant Vice President for Budget and Governmental Relations Jim Milroy.

"I'd like other students to have the same opportunity [I did]," said McGee, who helped organize Tuesday's trip. Student senators proposed organizing a trip to Albany that, according to McGee, earned "a lot of enthusiasm" in SA meetings and responses to What'sUp e-mails that advertised the idea.

The date was established partly by the student vice president at SUNY Plattsburgh, who contacted Geneseo and other schools to coordinate lobbying efforts. Tuesday was also the joint luncheon for legislative delegates who graduated from SUNY and CUNY institutions.

On Monday, students attending the trip met with Milroy, who said he served as "a resource to answer specific budget questions." In that meeting, Milroy detailed the nature of the cuts and explained that the tuition increase will not offset funding shortfalls.

The trip was funded by SA, which reserves a portion of its annual finances for budget advocacy. Students met with representatives and were also encouraged to speak to legislators from their hometown districts.

"The trip was a fantastic opportunity for Geneseo to get on the road and exhibit our SUNY pride," said senior Rebecca Coons. "We were able to get feedback on what other political leaders are feeling about the huge SUNY cuts and give them the personal factor, as being their constituents who are suffering from these cuts personally."

"The trip definitely helped me realize how much a difference students can actually make by either sending a letter or meeting personally with their representative," said sophomore Doug Sinski.

Lawmakers are supposed to pass a budget before the new fiscal year begins on April 1.