An Important Message from the GSO President

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to report on my student advocacy within GSO and other university-wide bodies, and urge you to join the dialogue and make your voice heard!

Some other student organizations have called for joining a rally this Wednesday, March 2nd, at 12:50 in the SAC Plaza. I will be there and ask you all to join me to voice our desire to oppose budget cuts to SUNY, search for alternatives to the proposed model of perpetual tuition increases and establish more transparent mechanisms regarding fees and its relation to the management of our campus budget.

In light of NY Governor Cuomo’s disastrous budget proposal for 2011-2012, the GSO Senate drafted and passed a resolution at our February meeting denouncing the proposed budget and rejecting the notion that ‘there is no alternative.’ This is the link to the full resolution, and includes numerous alternatives to the state’s fiscal woes. I have been asked what else can be done regarding this issue. The Defend Our Education Coalition has put together a survey about tuition increases. Recently the New York Student Assembly released a recent survey, but it’s believed by many that it is not representative of SUNY students.  You can participate in this effort by filling it out here: formkey=dHF6VjdubnNITEgtUW9sajdZM3N2MkE6MQ#gid=0

We’d like to see more than the 489 respondents that the SUNY-wide Student Assembly survey, used to justify support of perpetual tuition increases. You can also visit the action center of SUNY Under Siege, a coalition of organizations at SUNY-Albany that has put together a webpage with information that we can use to lobby the legislature and SUNY administration. If interested, we could emulate some of their actions:

Earlier this month, Provost Kaler announced a proposed comprehensive fee increase of over $100/semester for graduate students. The straightforward idea I want to transmit to you is that this decision has not been taken already! It is just a proposal that can’t become legal without taking into account our opinions as students!

As you may recall, I reported last semester on the progress we had made in working with the administration to include student representation in the decision-making process of fees and their management. Although the administration recognized our demands and promised transparency, they have not delivered and have been unwilling to fully disclose the use of our fees. The GSO Executive Council has recently circulated a statement in which we simultaneously denounce the fee increases and the administration’s posturing during this time.

The University Senate has also passed a statement condemning Cuomo’s budget proposal, but endorses perpetual tuition increases. It lacks the foresight to recognize any alternatives to the budget crisis, and merely echoes the mantra that raising student tuition is the only solution. I raised this issue at the last meeting of the Arts & Science Senate, and plan to introduce a statement that this body can adopt at its next meeting, in which we reject the idea of perpetual tuition increases and introduce alternatives.

March 2 will mark the National Day of Action to Defend Public Higher Education. We must counter the discourse that describes higher education as a commodity that is to be bought and sold. We should teach our legislators and administrators how to acknowledge the inherent social value of a public higher education system that serves as a pillar of any democratic society. Again, I urge you to join your student colleagues across the nation and on this campus in defending the ‘public’ in public education next March 2nd during campus life-time at SAC’s lobby.

See you in the rally!
Students first!

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