By Erin J. Mansfield
Stony Brook students rallied outside of the SAC on Wednesday, November 19, during Campus Lifetime to protest the SUNY budget cuts.
Over 100 students were in attendance; less than one percent of undergraduates were outraged enough to stand out in the cold to have their voices heard, but that did not deter the ones who came for the cause.
The protest was organized by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and the United University Professors (UUP). Representatives from both organizations spoke out against SUNY budget cuts and encouraged students to be outraged by the financial situation of the university.
Stony Brook University’s tuition is scheduled to increase by $310 in the spring of 2009 for in-state students.
John Schmidt, President of the West Campus UUP, mentioned that, “SUNY has a ‘rainy day fund’ of just over one billion dollars,” a sum of money which he thinks, given the $1.5 billion cut that needs to be made, would make a major impact if spent on the university.
USG representatives handed out letter templates to protestors. All students were encouraged to write letters to their governor, senators and assemblymen; friends and family were also encouraged to take part. If they chose not to write their own letters, they could simply sign the templates and mail, fax or email them.
“I want these letters to haunt them [lawmakers] in their sleep,” said USG President Jeffrey Akita about the letter-writing campaign.
Speakers stressed the idea that lawmakers do not care whether or not the students suffer due to the budget cuts because so few students become outraged enough to speak out against the issues or vote against their leaders.
The budget cuts will only compound in the coming years, resulting in higher tuition, lower standards of education and even more struggles for students who want to graduate on time. Representatives said that, because of this colossal drop in the quality of SUNY, many students might find that the only solution is to transfer to private institutions.
“My biggest concern is the quality of classes,” said USG Senator Daniel Graber after the protest. “Fortunately, I can afford another $300 next semester, but I can’t afford to have a sub-par education.”
Note: To all students who still want to have their voices heard, visit www.uupinfo.org or www.stonybrookusg.org to sign a letter to Governor Paterson. He can’t read, so be sure to send letters to your assemblyman and senator, too.