The Undergraduate Student Government Senate approved a resolution to support a renewed plan for predictable tuition costs for State University of New York schools by a vote of 16-1-0 at its meeting on Thursday, Feb. 19.
“It’s to ensure that one: we as students can plan our college education with our families, and two: so our university knows how much money they are going to take in so they can plan accordingly,” USG Vice President of Academic Affairs Steven Adelson said.
Under the SUNY 2020 legislation, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in 2011, SUNY and CUNY schools were able to increase tuition for in-state students by $300 a year for five years. Therefore, the control on in-state tuition will expire after the next academic year.
Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said at a meeting with media representative on Wednesday that the legislation ended dramatic and unpredictable spikes in tuition costs.
“I think [SUNY 2020] has had some advantages for students and their families in that it’s made things predictable,” Stanley said. “You know what your cost is going to be every year. Before we had SUNY 2020, it was tuition roulette. Some years there would be massive tuition increases—20, 30 percent a year. Other years there would be nothing.”
Stony Brook’s 2011 application for the SUNY 2020 program also stated that Stony Brook would raise tuition 10 percent for out-of-state students.
Adelson said that the money raised from tuition increases under SUNY 2020 were used to hire new faculty, to increase graduate student stipends and to start the Academic Success and Tutoring Center.
USG’s resolution calls on Cuomo and the state legislature to renew the “rational tuition plan.” The resolution also calls on Stanley, the University Senate and the student governments of all SUNY schools to support the renewal.
“The conversations are happening in the state legislature now and this is really going to give us the push that they need to really consider this,” Adelson said.
The senate also approved a repeal of Black Womyn’s Association’s removal from line budget status by a vote of 14-3-0. At last week’s senate meeting, the association was removed from line budget status for not holding an event funded by the Student Activity Fee last semester as required by USG’s financial bylaws.
The association’s president, Bianca Baofo, and vice president, Janelle March, claimed that they could not use funds from the Student Activity Fee for an event because of issues with their secretary’s account on Campusvine, the online system used to budget club events.
When USG Treasurer Kathryn Michaud said that every club was required to check that its Campusvine accounts were working at the Leadership Conference in September, Baofo countered that while they were able to log onto their Campusvine accounts, Campusvine would not let them submit a voucher for the event.
“We would not have know it was not working unless we made a voucher,” Baofo said.
At the end of the debate, Sen. Meghan Walsh said that the senate should remember that the Black Womyn’s Association representatives were “students first.”
“I don’t know about you guys, but if I was the president of a club, but it would very important to me, but it would not be the first thing on my agenda,” Walsh said. “So if a voucher wasn’t going through, and I had a test, I would definitely study for my test before I even showed up to the USG office. I would just like to point out that they made an attempt.”
Now that the Black Womyn’s Association’s line budget status has been restored, the association will now have to send a budget application to the senate budget committee. The funds for that budget will have to be appropriated through a separate act, Michaud said.
The senate also approved the Health and Nutrition Club’s request for line budget status and the Martial Arts Association’s application for a Special Services Council budget of $474.50, as well as officially acknowledging the Stony Brook chapter of Camp Kesem, an organization that puts together a one-week summer camp for children who have parents who have or have had cancer.