The SUNY Student Assembly has devised a plan for reform based on discussions from its semiannual conference held this past October and feedback from an online survey of State University of New York students throughout the state.
Approved unanimously by the executive committee, the Assembly's legislative agenda focuses on reform efforts that include a rational tuition plan and restoration of state aid.
Over the past three years, SUNY has weathered $1.1 billion in budget cuts, representing a third of the total that New York State invests in the SUNY system. "Some campuses are hanging on by a thread and another round of cuts is coming that is going to be even worse," said SUNY Student Assembly President Julie Gondar, a senior at the University at Albany.
At the heart of the group's plans for reform is fair tuition for students. The Assembly has proposed the implementation of a Rational Tuition Policy, which would require a maximum tuition increase of 5.5 percent: 1.5 times the 20-year average of the Higher Education Price Index.
"Tuition increases [for SUNY] were never less than 11 percent, and this increase makes it harder for families to plan," Gondar said. "[Our] reforms will allow students and their families to better plan for the costs of higher education and provide campuses with predictable revenues."
The Assembly has also proposed several reforms that focus on state aid. One proposal seeks to increase the maximum award for the Tuition Assistance Program so that it remains greater than the cost of SUNY tuition. The Assembly also proposed that Bundy Aid, state aid provided to private universities, be repealed. New York State has given these universities a collective $54 million in aid, and, according to a press release, the Student Assembly feels that these funds should be reallocated to the state schools.
The SUNY Student Assembly is also fighting to get back $90 million in state aid that was once provided to community colleges. The Assembly has requested that this aid be restored and plans to ensure that funding for community colleges will be developed.
On March 15, a SUNYpalooza rally will be held in Albany, N.Y. Geneseo's Student Association will be sponsoring an advocacy trip for Geneseo students on March 1.
The SUNY Student Assembly believes it is important that the 465,000 students in the SUNY system make themselves heard. For more information, contact Kyle Hill, director of Government Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.