Saturday, February 7 2009
Protest held over Gov. Paterson's tuition hike Olean Times Herald Saturday, February 7, 2009 ALFRED - Not everyone is a fan of Gov. David Paterson's idea to use tuition increases to offset state budget woes. Students, school officials and State Sen. Catharine Young protested this decision at Alfred State College's Student Gathering Place Friday. The State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees, facing budget cuts totaling over $210 million, has increased tuition for all SUNY schools. Tuition at Alfred State College has increased $310 and will increase another $310 next semester. Increasing tuition isn't what had students and others up in arms. Gov. Paterson proposed in December to keep 90 percent of the tuition increase and 80 percent next year to help offset state budget deficits. Students and others were protesting the fact that Gov. Paterson won't allow tuition revenue to be used for educational purposes. "I never want tuition raised but I understand sometimes it has to to keep the same quality of education," Adam Nash, president of Student Senate, said. "I say, why us? Why should students have to pay for Albany's problems? "They're jeopardizing our education and future. We are the future," Mr. Nash told the packed crowd at the school. "We're already being hit at home with a bad economy. Why should we be hit at school as well?" Mr. Nash said Gov. Paterson is there to serve the people. "I look around the room and realize we are the people and have a say about what happens," he said. "It's time to make our voices heard." The crowd came alive when Sen. Catharine Young took the microphone. She led them into chants of "Save SUNY," multiple times. "SUNY has seen unprecedented cuts, over $214 million in cuts. That's totally unacceptable," she told the crowd. She also told them that Gov. Paterson is proposing to decrease TAP funding, charge for music downloads and double the tax on beer, which really turned the crowd raucous. "It's time we take back our state government," Sen. Young said. "It's time we save SUNY. The way we're going to save SUNY is through you. You are the power of New York state. We are here to raise our voices and send a message to Gov. Paterson and Albany. Let them know we're going to save SUNY." Patricia Fogarty, chair of the Alfred's College Council, said the governor's proposal is unfair. "It's unfair. It's unfair to each of you," she said. "It's unfair to your mom and dad. It's unfair to this college." Student Mary Johnson echoed this sentiment. "It's unfair for our tuition money to be used as a way to bail out the economy," she said. "Our choice to advance our education is being turned into an education tax." Ms. Fogarty said the school has already lost $1.2 million to budget cuts. Everyone will suffer if Gov. Paterson's proposal happens and the school is forced to cut programs, she said. "The state is going to suffer. Every single citizen of New York state is going to suffer," she said. "Without these programs, we're hurt at the college, but you're hurt more, and so is every single citizen in the state of New York." Dr. John M. Anderson, president of the college, said the school will be hurt by the governor's proposal. "There is a financial crisis going on around the country, across the state and right here at Alfred. We've been working very hard to reduce the impact on students," he said. "(Gov. Paterson's proposal) is going to unfortunately impact you and the programs we deliver. We will try to minimize the impact to you, but it's going to be difficult." He vowed that school officials will stand side-by-side with students on this issue. "We're in this together," Dr. Anderson said. "I pledge that we will try every single way to preserve the academic integrity and services here at Alfred State College." All the speakers at the rally told people to contact their state representatives by phone, letter or e-mail. Mr. Nash gave the number to the crowd during the rally and laptops were provided so students could e-mail Gov. Paterson right from the rally. "By being here today you proved you do care and have a voice that can be heard," Mr. Nash said. "I say let's flood the governor's office with phone calls. It's time to make our voices heard."