Nine students traveled to Albany for Budget Advocacy Day on Thursday March 26 to lobby state senators and assemblymen for a higher budget at Geneseo, increasing Tuition Assistance Program funding and the rational tuition plan.
“We advocate for a higher budget for Geneseo, things like increasing the TAP funding. Right now the cap is at [$5,165] and tuition is obviously a lot higher,” Student Association Vice President junior Paul Michael said. “So the college could put money into that; the issue is that that’s money that could be going to other programs and to hire more permanent staff and stuff like that.”
Students also discussed the Rational Tuition Plan, which increases tuition by $300 per year. The plan was enacted in May 2011 and lasts for five years. In addition, students talked about the Maintenance of Effort Pledge, which dictates that the state has to give State University of New York schools as much money as it did the previous year.
“The thing is if they give us the same amount, professors’ salaries go up or maintenance makes things cost more, something they need costs more––it means the money is coming out of our increases in tuition,” he said. “So we’re actually seeing less of an increase in service and more of an increase in tuition.”
Student Association Director of Public Relations junior Nicolette Lukacs noted the im portance of this event because it gives students the opportunity to talk directly to their senators and assemblymen. She expressed hopes to see student involvement grow in the future.
Lukacs added that extensive work goes into planning the event, such as scheduling buses, discussing the issues at hand with Vice President for Administration and Finance James Milroy and advertising to students.
“Not only do we advertise to the students, we want the students to be informed, so we held a meeting discussing what our agenda is,” Lukacs said.
Because of this, the trip to Albany hasn’t happened each year as hoped. SA hosted a discussion about these topics last year in the Integrated Science Center rather than making the trip to Albany.
According to Lukacs and Michael, this year’s experience only further influenced the SA executive board’s desire to attend annually, with Lukacs hoping to fill an entire 50-person bus. She noted that the trip requires a $5 refundable deposit to guarantee a spot on the bus.
“These senators and assemblymen have people telling them their opinions all the time, but that fact that us students showed up and talked to them one-on-one with personal stories did have an impact,” Lukacs said.
Michael echoed her sentiments, stressing the importance of the Budget Advocacy Day program.
“I think they’re used to this sort of thing, kind of normalizing student advocacy and having them see student faces was important,” Michael said. “Did we change the budget? I don’t know, but I think we kept the thought in their head that students care and I think it’s a program we should expand in the future.”