CUNY and SUNY Students Protest Outside Gov’s Office

Student leaders and legislators protest outside Cuomo’s 3rd Avenue office./ Maya Schubert

 The University Student Senate and SUNY Student Assembly held a joint rally outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office on Mar, 9 to protest tuition hikes. The student leaders, as well as several local officials and a few protesters, demanded further investment in the education system. 

   Currently, Cuomo’s executive budget is geared to raise tuition every year by $200. USS and SSA, which represents over 1.3 million students in the SUNY system, said that tuition should be frozen and/or decreased.

   “Raising tuition during the middle of a pandemic is clearly not the right choice,” said SSA president Brad Hershenson. “Given the billions of dollars in federal aid coming to New York now is the time to lower tuition at both CUNY and SUNY. We can finally stop balancing the budgets on the backs of our own students.”

   Supporters at the rally held signs that read “SUNY stands for Investment,” “Fund our Futures,” and “New Deal 4 CUNY.” A number of local legislators expressed their support for the students and for the New Deal for CUNY, a bill that would make CUNY free by 2022.

   “We’d like the governor to hear us,” New York State Assemblyman Harvey Epstein said. “CUNY is the pathway to our future.”

   USS and SSA revealed Cuomo’s “Higher Education Report Card” on a large poster, awarding the governor an F in Tuition Policy and TAP gap, an A- in EOP funding, and an Incomplete in Mental Health Services, Graduate Student Support, Disability Services and Community College Aid. 

Student leaders and legislators protest outside Cuomo’s 3rd Avenue office./ Maya Schubert

   “If there’s not equity for all, there’s not equality,” said Juvanie Piquant, USS Chairperson, adding, “If you don’t fund CUNY, you will be voted out.”

   Piquant and Hershenson said that the semester was not over yet, and Cuomo could invest in CUNY now to amend his report card. This flak certainly hasn’t caught the governor at a good time, as he is currently under impeachment investigations for sexual misconduct.