USG agrees to join in on SUNY Walk Out Friday

Franklin Hagler, Staff Writer

This Friday, March 4, SUNY Buffalo State will be taking part in a walk out of all classes event starting at noon, meeting in the Quad outside of the Student Union.

SUNY Walk Out is an idea spawned from SUNY New Paltz in an attempt to stop the annual raise of tuition. Buffalo State will be partnering with the 64 other campuses under SUNY in an attempt to raise awareness of the growing crisis.

Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new budget plan and endorsed SUNY 2020, a plan that includes tuition hikes that could reach $300 annually. SUNY 2020 is a program installed by New York state in an attempt to improve enrollment and development in college communities, all while keeping education affordable.

These “rational tuition” hikes are limited by this program. Previously, tuition hikes were under the discretion of the universities themselves, in one instance raising it $950 in one semester in 2003.

The current average cost of school for in-state residents staying on campus is at $9,139. At private colleges the average cost raises to over $30,000 for room and board. The possibility of tuition raising up to $1,200 over a four year period is not sustainable or fiscally possible to most students.

“I believe that we should stand together in solidarity with the other universities and walk out on Friday because this will finally send them a message that we are not standing for it and we are doing this in unison. Maybe walking out of classes will finally get some people to take notice,” United Students Government Executive Vice President Emily Leminger said.

This is not the first step that Buffalo State has taken in attempt to get the attentions of those in Albany. In collaboration with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), students and senators took a trip to the capitol this past week to get face to face with officials about the tuition crisis.

“Stand Up With SUNY” is another campaign set up to continue the states attempt to grow programming in the state. The goal is to grow the list of graduating students from 93,000 to 150,000 by 2020.

“The thought of tuition raising $300 a year is scary,” said Casey Konieczka, a senior Buffalo State student. “That’s how much a class is right now, and most people can’t afford that. I graduate next semester, but who knows what this will mean because I want to go to graduate school. Lord knows how much that hike will be.”

Another recent bill put before state legislature was vetoed in December which would have guaranteed state funding with a specific pledged amount each year. In response, Cuomo’s budget spokesman said he believes the bill will be passed before the new budget gets approved by April 1.

Currently, state aid is not at the levels that will keep tuition prices stagnant and although SUNY 2020 helps, it only pushes the problem back for the next graduating class. To stay involved and bring a call to action, go to the Student Union Quad for the SUNY Walk Out this Friday or visit the “Stand Up With SUNY” website to sign the petition.

The last thing to come out of this week’s USG meeting was the passing of “Bill Number Six” which was the proposed raise in the minimum GPA levels of senate members. Due to heavy debate over the previous meeting, it was decided that a secret ballot vote would take place.

In a near unanimous vote, the bill passed and will take effect June 1, 2016. This means the minimum GPA for a senator is now 2.25, up from a 2.0. Current senators and potential members will have until the fall semester to raise or maintain their personal GPA to the meet new requirement.

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