***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Contact: Donavan Borington, Legislative Director
Date: January 5, 2016
New York, NY -January 5, 2017, Hercules E. Reid, USS Vice Chair for Legislative Affairs and Student at the New York City College of Technology issued the following statement to all CUNY students. The statement was in response to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's First-in-the-Nation Program proposal to provide free tuition to roughly 940,000 New York State residents who make less than $125,000 annually and attend all SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges full-time.
"This is certainly unexpected, after many students pleaded to the CUNY Administration and Board of Trustees last October to freeze tuition. It is unfortunate that the CUNY Board of Trustees voted for a budget two months ago that included another round of tuition increases over multiple years. So the Governor's proposal is a complete 180 on the position of the CUNY Board and the position the Governor has held in the past. It is surprising and exciting to see this initiative come to light. We are happy that Governor Cuomo is seeking to turn the tide on decades of state divestment from public higher education. Saying that, we plan to continue our efforts to organize and inform students about the importance of remaining vigilant and vocal and civically engaged on issues surrounding funding for public higher education. This legislative session will be an important session for higher education, and I think Governor Cuomo's proposal is a good start.
We would also like to say thank you to Senator Bernie Sanders for being at the forefront of the fight for free higher education. Tuition-free colleges are an important part of the equation when we talk about economic drivers of upward mobility. We must take into account that there are many non-tuition related expenses such as cost of living, food, and transportation that also deter students from pursuing a very-much-needed college education. The crisis of lack of education needs to be tackled from multiple angles. It is important to note that undocumented students, who currently receive no tuition assistance from the state, are not part of Governor Cuomo's proposal. We need a plan that takes all New Yorkers into consideration.
The specifics of the program have not been released. We are looking forward to reviewing all the details associated with the Governor’s proposal as they become available.”
The University Student Senate (USS) of the City University of New York (CUNY) is the official representative governance organization of the 500,000 students at CUNY. Founded in 1972, USS is responsible for preserving the accessibility, affordability, and excellence of higher education within the City of New York. Website: www.cunyuss.org
USS is a Steering member of the CUNY Rising Alliance.