Students Travel to Albany for “Higher Ed Lobby Day”
Representatives from throughout the SUNY system advocate for higher funding. /Garrison Marschner
Several WCC students became lobbyists on Wednesday, Feb. 28, when they traveled to Albany to meet with their state representatives.
This was SUNY Higher Education Lobby Day and WCC students, as well as hundreds of students from various other SUNY schools all gathered at the capitol to meet with their representatives and lobby for the funding of their respective institutions. The amount of funding to the school directly affects students as well as staff because the amount of funding a school gets determines factors such as tuition rates, student services, as well as staff’s salary and benefits. State funding also determines such things as how much financial aid is available as well as how much money the WCC foundation has to give for scholarships.
While Student Lobby Day is a annual occurrence, WCC had a specific agenda this year—getting a new funding method passed. Traditionally, SUNY community colleges receive volume-based funding: the amount of funding is based on the number of students enrolled for that school year. The proposed shift would be to “a predictable and stable base aid funding model coupled with investment in high-demand programs.” This of course would make budgeting for the schools a bit easier because there wouldn’t be as many variables and fluctuations in the amount of money the school has.
The idea behind student lobbying is putting a human face to what can sometimes be just numbers to politicians
“The lobby day is important because of the impact it has on the representatives,” said Performing Arts Curriculum Chair Rosemarie Serrano, who organized and led the WCC students. “Part of it is developing a close relationship so that they have a face to go with the name.”
It is also a good opportunity for politically minded students to get some experience.
“Whenever your tackling an issue from your school side and approaching through administration about anything, you have to realize there’s a waterfall down so sometimes it’s good to stand at the top and see what your school is facing from an executive level,” said Kelsey Young, WCC student and Secretary of the SGA.
One such issue from an executive level that will greatly affect this years state budget is a massive deficit. New York state will be facing a deficit of over 4 billion dollars this year. So naturally, Albany will have to make some spending cuts in order to compensate. Student lobby day is one method to attempt to protect cuts from education spending. The deficit was one issue brought up by the office of Terrence Murphy. The WCC group met with his Deputy Chief Mandy Fallon instead as the Senator was not available at the time. Notably, Terrence Murphy is a WCC alumni.