March 14, 2012

Hundreds turn out to support higher ed

Author: Darryl McGrath
Source: NYSUT Communications
students rally at the empire state plaza

Photo by El-Wise Noisette

NYSUT's higher education advocates made their voices heard throughout downtown Albany Wednesday as 500 students and faculty from the state's public colleges and universities marched, rallied and met with lawmakers to press for state funding for SUNY, CUNY and the community colleges.

The higher education advocates were part of a strong, highly visible day-long effort on behalf of public education at all levels that was organized by NYSUT, the New York Public Interest Research Group, the Alliance for Quality Education and a coalition of other student organizations.

The CUNY and SUNY contingent marched down State Street in a column three wide and several blocks deep, led by NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta; Phil Smith, president of United University Professions; Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress; Steve London, PSC first vice president; and Eileen Landy, UUP secretary.

Among the faculty who turned out was Adam Tripp, an adjunct at Bronx Community College.

"I was here last year; I was here last week," Tripp said, referring to a similar student-unionist advocacy day a year ago, as well as the recent NYSUT Higher Education Advocacy Day. "The work's not done. Right now, we need smaller classes; we need more funding for facilities."

New York's public colleges and universities have lost $1.7 billion in funding since 2008.

Pallotta spoke about the hardships at SUNY, CUNY and the community colleges at a news conference Wednesday, and also at a rally of students on the Capitol staircase outside the governor's office.

"You should not be denied an excellent opportunity for success," he told the cheering crowd. "Demand it, fight for it, don't give it up!"