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SUNY & CUNY Walkouts to Protest “Trillion Dollar Debt”

November 21, 2011

NEW YORK - Starting around noon today, students at SUNY and CUNY are expected to walkout of class and stage protests in front of administration headquarters in Manhattan and Albany. At Hunter College, Christina Chaise with Students for a Free CUNY says it's wrong that she has to pay more for a lower-quality education. She says she tried to find out where the money from last year's tuition increase went, but has had no luck getting that information from administrators.

"I don't know why last year there were tuition hikes, while presidents got raises. They have housing allowances and they have chauffeurs, while there are students in the school who are homeless and can't even afford transportation."

In Albany, protesters plan to push a symbolic rock to the SUNY administration building. Organizers say the rock is meant to symbolize the trillion dollars in loan debt they say students have now racked-up nationwide.

Sharmin Hossain with New York Students Rising, Albany, is angry with Gov. Cuomo's hard line on the "millionaire's tax." Cuomo says it needs to end this year to keep the state competitive. Hossain says that leaves working-class students to shoulder more of the burden to support a higher education system that has less to offer each year.

"They're actually being asked to pay more for a job that they might not necessarily get when they graduate. People are mad at our administration and at our government - the people who are supposed to be on our side."

Chaise says New York Students Rising and its affiliates are pushing for repeal of Gov. Cuomo's Challenge Grant tuition program (NYSUNY2020), which she says needs to be replaced by a progressive tax that includes the wealthiest 1 percent of New Yorkers.

"When I look at the amount of money that we can generate from taxing people who make six-figure salaries, they can't use the excuse that there's no money to fund CUNY or to fund other public programs and institutions that are for the good of our society."

More information is available on Facebook at

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY