Staff Editorial: Let SUNY raise tuition in extraordinary crisis

In a budget proposal announced on Feb. 1, Gov. Andrew Cuomo promised New Yorkers that he wouldn't raise State University of New York tuition – a pronouncement inspiring cheers from voters, but rendering disappointment for many students.

The Lamron enthusiastically calls for SUNY tuition increases that will help our college survive the unrelenting diminishment of state funds to the public university system.

We've said it before: cuts have to be made somewhere given the massive budget deficit our state is facing. The SUNY budget has been cut by just over a billion dollars in the last three years, however, and if Cuomo's proposal manifests in the 2011-2012 budget, it will bring another $131.4 million in cuts.

Under ordinary circumstances, students at public universities would never call for their tuition to be raised. But let's review: Geneseo is currently working against a $7.2 million deficit and recently deactivated three of its treasured programs. Students have literally watched pieces of their college – the home space of entire sub-communities within Geneseo – shut down. These are not ordinary circumstances.

The SUNY Student Assembly knows this. "SUNY students think [Cuomo's promise] is unwise," said the assembly's president, University of Albany senior Julie Gondar. "We feel keeping tuition at the current level is simply not sustainable, and does not support access and affordability in the long term."

SUNY students themselves are asking for a tuition increase. SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher is asking for the power to create a rational tuition policy. President Christopher Dahl and other SUNY presidents are asking for the ability to raise tuition. Does Cuomo hear us?

If Cuomo is going to maintain this position, we had better give him reason to pause. That is why The Lamron strongly encourages all students who are able to make the trip to travel to Albany on March 1 as part of our Student Association's organized advocacy trip.

Go and demand that Cuomo and the state legislature give SUNY the ability to enact rational tuition policies. If New York State is going to continue to decrease the amount of money it provides to our public university system, we should at least be given the chance to try to save it with our private dollars.

During his proposal, Cuomo invoked critics of his K-12 cuts that claim these school districts cannot "tighten their belt" any more. In response to this straw man, Cuomo, in a just subtly condescending manner, responded, "Let me make some suggestions."

We hope he's got some suggestions for us and that he's ready to look into the eyes of the Geneseo communicative disorders and sciences, studio art and computer science majors after he informs them they won't even have the opportunity to offer money out of their own pockets to try to salvage their programs.