During the last calendar year, students’ education has been placed on the back-burner. Due to our fiscal crisis, the SUNY student body has been used as an ATM. During its fall conference, the SUNY Student Assembly endorsed a rational tuition policy. During the spring 2009 semester, it agitated for the proper use of our tuition dollars. Members lobbied on behalf of the student body and emphasized fiscal responsibility. However, the Assembly’s voice was drowned out.
The New York State Legislature ignored the concerns of students in favor of paying down state debt. Gov. David Paterson, who is lauded as a progressive, levied a consumption tax upon SUNY students. 438,000 SUNY students and alumni were effectively ignored.
Simply put, the same thing that prevented us from effectively agitating against this crisis is preventing us from addressing the smorgasbord of campus issues: a lack of unification.
Some students claim that student governmental institutions are bureaucratic and convoluted, and that student politics are self-aggrandizing. But while skepticism toward government is acceptable, the aforementioned skepticism is unwarranted.
During my time in student government, I have worked with many people. I have worked with individuals who have been acutely aware of S.A.’s purpose and have fulfilled it with utmost clarity. As your vice president, I have been troubled by the rhetoric of many students. I write to address their concerns.
S.A. was founded in 1965 amidst student crisis. Prior to the counterculture movement, students felt a desire to be heard; they understood that unification was key. In order to assert self-determination, they needed to garner administrative attention. It was out of this knowledge that S.A. was born. It was not born out of ideal circumstances, but out of a desire for students to cogently address student need and preserve student rights.
We have had the occasional off-year, and we have elected weak and corrupt administrations. However, our administration understands S.A.’s purpose.
Simply put, S.A. exists to preserve student rights. We exist to assure that you can shape your own Oswego State experience and that you are heard. By and large, our college officials want to hear your voice. We have student representation built into almost every faculty committee.
We are witnessing a vicious monopolization of power at the state level. We must work with faculty to prevent this monopolization from invading our campus. I vehemently disagree with the assertion that our administrators do not care about student concern. I have worked with many of them and I am certain they want to cooperate with students. However, I know that if we do not continue to work with them, they will not have an accurate barometer by which to measure student concern.
I acknowledge that S.A. has fallen short on several initiatives, and we accept responsibility. However, through introspection, we realize that without student support we will falter. Student opinion drives everything. The best way to understand your opinion is through face-to-face contact. We encourage you to discuss your concerns. We encourage you to talk with your senators. We will not achieve change in policy, or any form of campus progress, unless we create legitimate student movements. Change happens when students push for it, through a unified message. We have instituted major change in the past. We want to continue to do so. In order for us to tackle issues effectively, we need a renewal of student voice.
I encourage you to use your voice advantageously. I am firm in my view of government for the people. The well-being of the students is my guiding principle. In many respects, I have seen progress during my four years here. I want to continue to move forward. I ask you to get involved in an organization or in your student government. We should exercise our voice firmly, and make sure that we do all that we can to preserve student rights, both for our benefit, and the benefit of our posterity.