Students Take Action on Relevant Issues

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.

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