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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Taking the Fight to the Capital

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Onthe morning of Tuesday, March 11, about 150 Stony Brook students boarded threebuses to travel to Albany for a rally against Governor George Pataki’sbudget proposals.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Theproposed education budget includes a $1,200 tuition hike for SUNY students,cuts to financial aid programs such as TAP and EOP, and a 15 percent cut to theoperating budgets of state universities.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Therally came after a statewide ‘?no-tuition hike,’ during whichstudents from all across the state marched toward Albany. Students from StonyBrook marched to the Nassau-Suffolk border on February 23rd.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘?Ithought the rally was great,’ said Helen Ho, one of the coordinators ofNYPIRG’s Stony Brook chapter. ‘?Students from all the SUNY and CUNYschools were represented and said no to the Governor’s proposals.’ Eventorganizers estimated that over 3,000 students attended the rally.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Manystudents attended the rally for personal reasons. ‘?I went to the rallybecause this issue is very close to me,’ said sophomore Anna Goldsznycer.’?I am part of EOP, I receive TAP aid, and there is no way I can afford anextra $1,200 for tuition.’

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Therally featured a host of speakers, including State Assembly Speaker SheldonSilver, Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee Ron Canestrari, formerAssemblyman Ed Sullivan; Barbara Bowen, President of the CUNY ProfessionalStaff Congress, and representatives from the Student Association of SUNY. Twostudents who marched across New York State in the two weeks leading up to therally, and Stony Brook student and NYPIRG member Becca Ahuja also spoke.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘?[Pataki]didn’t think we could do this, but we stepped up to the plate,’Ahuja said. ‘?Education is our right, our privilege, and we’re hereto let him know that.’ She then led the raucous in a chant of ‘?Educationis our right. Fight, fight, fight!’

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘?It’s senseless to try and build somethingfrom the roof down,’ Silver said. ‘?The governor has to make toughchoices, but there are tough choices, and there are wrong choices.’

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Canestrariproclaimed Silver ‘?a friend of education,’ and added his ownthoughts.

    ‘?[Thetuition hike] is unfair and unjust to students and we, as Democrats in theAssembly, will not let it stand.’

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Patakidid not attend the rally, but in a press conference held earlier that day, hetold reporters, ‘I certainly understand that no one would like to payhigher tuition. That’s why we worked very hard for seven years — the longesttime ever — to have no tuition increase at SUNY and CUNY.’

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Studentsattending the rally were invited by organizers to participate in ‘?LobbyDay,’ which will taking place on Sunday, March 31. At this event,students will have the opportunity to speak to State Assemblymen and expresstheir views on the Governor’s proposals. Students were also encouragedto call Pataki’s office and leave messages in opposition to the tuitionincrease.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘?Itis clear that we have friends in the Assembly and the Senate that will fightfor students,’ said Melissa Morahan, one of NYPIRG’s coordinatorsat Stony Brook. ‘?It is our job to continue the work we have started andlet the Governor know that we are not going away.’

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