Last Thursday Brooklyn College students and faculty gathered in the alumni room of the Student Center to discuss a trip to Albany on which they will demand a tuition freeze and discuss a myriad of other issues.
The student action meeting was called by The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) on campus to inform students about the resources available to them and also give one last day to sign up to lobby against the SUNY 2020 law.
According to a press release from Governor Cuomo’s office in 2011, The SUNY 2020 “enacts a rational tuition plan that allows each SUNY and CUNY ca mpus to raise tuition by $300 per year for five years, replacing an era of sudden tuition increases with a system that is predictable and empowers students and parents to plan for college expenses.”
A few years after the law took effect, a report released in November 2015 in the magazine of the American Association of University Professors revealed that the SUNY 2020 law wasn’t all that empowering and placed a burden on the students.
“Students are paying more – $1,500 more in just five years. Yet, with inflation, perstudent state support has been reduced,” said Alex Bornemisza, student at Buffalo State College and NYPIRG chairperson.
Now with the SUNY 2020 expiring this semester, students and other NYPIRG members will join in a statewide action on Thursday, February 25th and speak directly with elected officials.
“We believe we have the right to have accessible and affordable tuition,” said one of the interns for the higher education campaign during his presentation.
Several other campaigns are also being launched in the coming weeks under the umbrella of NYPIRG. Some of the other issues include hunger and homelessness, voter registration and environmental protection.
NYPIRG was founded in 1973 during the free speech and civil rights movement and has expanded to a significant source of lawyers, researchers, lobbyists, interns and organizers who all work to make statewide sustainable change. In the past, NYPIRG has registered more people to vote than any other non-
partisan group in the country. The group was also responsible for banning employers from using credit checks during the hiring process. This semester they are working on “putting people over profit” and political accountability – hence the trip to Albany.
During Thursday’s action meeting, students signed waivers to attend the day of lobbying and interns from each campaign got an opportunity to talk about what issues they will be tackling this semester.
Tyrone Gayle, an intern for the hunger and homelessness campaign, and a junior at the college, spoke with enthusiasm about his experiences despite the lack of pay. “Every single day you take for granted food and a home. I feel empowered and good about lending a helping hand when needed,” said Gayle.
This semester the hunger and homelessness campaign will be organizing a clothing drive and a food drive where students will have an opportunity to give to someone in need without leaving the campus.
Much like the 1970s when NYPIRG was founded, there are still many studentrelated issues to address.
Thursday’s action meeting was able to make space for each issue to literally have it’s own seat at the table.