The Radical Student Union, led by Jes Rybak, held a teach-in on the third floor of the SAC on Wednesday in order to peacefully protest Governor Cuomo’s and Stony Brook’s new budgets while presenting a disturbing lesson about the 2011 budget.
Rybak distributed literature that summarized the problems with the federal, state, and SUNY budgets. The list ranged from an increased athletics fee to military investments by SUNY.
Rybak recounted an experience she had two years ago with the Freedom Of Information Act in which she tried to figure out exactly where her tuition money was going. Instead of getting answers, she found a complex web of financing that involves the mixing of public and private money. The information she did receive she described as “vague.”
Rybak is opposed to the increase in fees, but at the very least wants them properly explained. A lack of transparency seems to be a theme in complaints from student groups.
The GSO, an organization that represents graduate students, released a statement condemning the process by which the administration increased fees. They offered assistance and requested transparency since the fees were proposed, but only now, eight months later, are they able to speak with the administration in the form of a town hall meeting.
The focus of the conversation was Stony Brook’s budget, but the RSU even had issues at the federal level. For example, Obama’s budget proposal calls for a regressive tax on oil and less money for Pell Grants.
The meeting was filled with calm, intellectual discussion––so much so that another student could sleep on a nearby couch with a jacket over his head. But that time next week, things might not be so relaxed.
On March 2nd, the RSU will play host to the second annual rally featuring student and union leaders from around campus. Last year they filled three busses with protesters on their way to be seen by President Stanley. This year, that number is being described as a conservative estimate for attendance. With more speakers than ever expected to show up, it could be many more.