College students put their words into action on Student Advocacy Day in Albany, which took place on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
Approximately 850 students from 55 different college campuses from across New York State gathered to voice their opinions and concerns about higher education funds to state legislators.
The goal of the event was to allow students to take part in the legislative process concerning higher education, specifically to address New York State Governor David Patterson’s proposed budget plan. His plan included a $50 million reduction in the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which included a $75 million decrease in all TAP awards and the removal of TAP for graduate students.
In addition, this plan contained a reduction in the Direct Institutional ‘Bundy” Aid, meaning that private colleges and universities, like UR, will receive aid that is usually given to students for additional financial aid. In addition, the plan calls for a decrease in funding for the Higher Educational Opportunity Program, signifying that fewer students would be allowed to enroll in the program for this coming academic year.
These budget cuts personally resonated with freshman Andrew Cutillo, who represented UR in Albany.
‘Tuesday is my busiest class day but I put all of that aside,” Cutillo said.
Associate Director of Government Relations Amy Happ, who organized UR’s participation in the event, was pleased with the outcome.
‘Overall it was very successful,” Happ said. ‘Given the time commitment of the day, it is difficult for … students [who] have busy schedules.”
Cutillo felt that it was important for him and students in general to attend Student Advocacy Day in order to keep the important issues of higher education on the forefront of the state legislators’ agenda.
‘If we had not been there it would have not brought so much attention to [the issues],” Cutillo said. ‘I think by bringing attention to [cuts in higher education funding] and highlighting a personal aspect to it, it really just emphasized a point a whole lot more than a simple letter would have.”
Berkowitz is a member of the class of 2012.