On March 4, 2002 the New York PubliInterest Research Group (NYPIRG) took atrip with a number of Stony Brook students to Albany, in order to lobby againstbudget cuts to Senators and Assemblymen and women. The cuts proposed by GovernorPataki will be affecting many students across New York and many students righthere at Stony Brook. Some students who attended were concerned with whetheror not they would be able to attend college next semester.
Financial aid helps so many students, and the proposed cuts will be heavilyfelt. The Governor has proposed that the state withhold one-third of all Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grants, and only release those funds when a studentgraduates. The Governor seems to think that this will stand as an incentivefor students to graduate and will enhance student ‘performance.’
The fact is that in order to receive TAP a student must maintain a ‘C’average, which is an incentive, in and of itself, for success. The proposed cuts affect a great number of students on this campus. A large number of studentshave already been negatively affected by the cuts that were made to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).
Governor Pataki has proposed that EOP be cut $235,000 this year. This is after already cutting the program by $2.7 million last year. EOP serves as a mechanism for economically disadvantaged students to earn an education, and with thesecuts such resources as free EOP tutoring will no longer be available.
We also need to urge the legislature to restore last year’s $13.8 million that was lost in the’bare-bones’ budget cuts to these programs along with the cuts suffered this year. There have also been $4 million in cuts to childcare programs that assist parents who attend college.
We personally spoke to Assemblywoman Joan L. Millman from the 52nd District about the matter at hand. She believes that financial aid is money well spent.When approached with the question of her opinion on the Governor’s proposal she accused him of ‘balancing his budget on the backs of the people’ who are most in need of assistance—students.
We attempted to meet with State Senator Gentile of the 23rd District but he was unfortunately unable to make our appointment. We did, however, speak to his legislative director, Timothy C. Kirchgraber, who assured us that Senator Gentile would never vote against education, which appears to me to be what the Governorhas always done.
One of the most popular justifications used by Assemblymen and women and Senatorswho are in favor of the cuts was the Sept. 11 tragedy. I am sure no one is tryingto disregard the unfortunate event that took many lives in New York City. However, cutting education is simply not the solution. This generation is the future.
Students are urged to write letters to their government officials about theirconcerns of the proposed cuts.Students should also try to incorporate into theletter how they will personally be affected if the proposed cuts go through.Your government officials are supposed to work for you, so you should make themdo so. Let us also keep in mind that Governor Pataki is up for reelection thisyear. Please go out and vote against cutting education.