Newly elected Undergraduate Student Government President Mark Maloof today issued his first press release and took a firm and critical stance against President Stanley’s support for NYSUNY2020, the bill seeking to fundamentally reshape the largest state public universities, including Stony Brook.

“After careful review of both the oral and written NYSUNY 2020 proposals made to Governor Andrew Cuomo by Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley, and of the NYSUNY 2020 bill proposed in the state legislature, I am announcing that I cannot give my full support to the plan as it stands now,” he wrote in the release.

The bill was introduced by Governor Cuomo in the last few weeks, and has the support of the state senate, SUNY officials and university presidents, including Stony Brook president Samuel Stanley. It would grant greater autonomy to the SUNY system’s four university centers at Stony Brook, Albany, Buffalo and Binghamton to set their own tuition rates and enter into public/private partnerships, one of the more controversial provisions. Also included in the governor’s plan is a one-time $35 million challenge grant that each of the four universities can receive to fund specific projects on campus. (Read about Stony Brook’s submitted proposal in Think).

Stony Brook’s plan, which was presented to the Governor and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher last week, calls for an approximately 8% tuition hike every year for the next five years. Critics of the plan say the proposed increases will unfairly affect students from low-income families, even if a significant percent of the generated revenue goes into scholarship funds, as President Stanley has proposed.

But there’s a measurable, albeit shaky, consensus forming around the idea that some tuition increases are needed to both keep SUNY academically competitive with other public universities and cope with almost half a decade of crippling budget cuts from Albany. The in-state tuition rates that New Yorkers pay is one of the lowest in the country. And even the out-of-state rate for a student from Pennsylvania is lower than what that student would pay for Penn State’s tuition.

Where opinions vary is how to go about raising tuition. Maloof seems to be a part of that consensus, and offered his own plan.

“I would feel more comfortable with tuition rates growing at a slower rate for a longer period of time,” he said, without mentioning specific figures. “This would give families an easier time to manage the expenses their child will incur while still allowing for SUNY campuses to plan sufficiently for the future.”

He also calls for provisions that would guarantee revenue generated from tuition increases remains at the respective universities, a stipulation that Governor Cuomo says he supports but is nonetheless absent from the current bill. And Maloof echoed President Stanley in calling for the state to put an end to four consecutive years of budget cuts totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The full press release is below.

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STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT GOVERNMENT PRESIDENT MARK MALOOF: “NYSUNY 2020 is a step in the right direction but just not there yet.”

Stony Brook, NY – Stony Brook University Undergraduate Student Government President Mark Maloof released the following statement today.

“After careful review of both the oral and written NYSUNY 2020 proposals made to Governor Andrew Cuomo by Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley, and of the NYSUNY 2020 bill proposed in the state legislature, I am announcing that I cannot give my full support to the plan as it stands now.

I understand the need for a tuition increase, but I question the plans for implementation and how much of an increase is necessary. The university President and the Governor seem concerned about students being able to reasonably plan for their tuition needs over all four years. I share in their concern; however, I think a different approach would be better for the students. I would feel more comfortable with tuition rates growing at a slower rate for a longer period of time. This would give families an easier time to manage the expenses their child will incur while still allowing for SUNY campuses to plan sufficiently for the future.

These are hard economic times; we, as a state and as a university, have some difficult decisions to make regarding our spending, but I do not believe that the brunt of these economic woes should fall on the students. I find a tuition increase of eight percent each year for the next five years to be excessive and not in the best interests of the students. Additionally, the bill should outline that any tuition increase should return strictly to the students for the purpose of their education and that the SUNY system should not be given less money from the state in lieu of a tuition increase.

I sincerely hope that the university presidents, SUNY Chancellor Zimpher, Governor Cuomo, and the members of the state legislature take these concerns into consideration as they move forward with NYSUNY 2020.”

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