Pataki's SUNY Shock

Fed Up With Cuts and Hikes, Students Prep to March on Albany

She has an ally in the committee and its chairman, Charles Barron of Brooklyn, who said Pataki is "unjustly balancing the government's budget on the backs of working students and families." Barron himself is a CUNY graduate, and has a son, Jawanza, currently at Medgar Evers, but he says that the issue would be a personal one regardless, because "for people of color, whether we achieve or not is based on education." In a City Council session filled with angry students and professors, his committee passed a non-binding resolution that opposed the tuition increase and aid cuts; the full council will consider it on February 12.

In the meantime, student leaders across the state, with help from the New York Public Interest Research Group, are organizing dozens of media-friendly protests. Miriam Kramer, NYPIRG's higher-education project coordinator, says they include larger rallies planned for February 26 at City Hall and March 11 in Albany that she hopes will spur lawmakers to beat back "a triple whammy for New York's college students and their families."

Cail Casserly, a NYPIRG volunteer and Hunter sophomore, will participate in a 17-day protest hike by hundreds of SUNY and CUNY students to Albany (see www.notuitionhike.org) that is scheduled to hit most of the campuses along the way. She'll be the only student who will walk the entire southern route, starting from Stony Brook on February 23 (a second route begins in Buffalo on the 25th), winding through the city, and up into Albany—a total of 245 miles. There she will join what organizers hope will be thousands more on March 11, many of whom will be battling for their chance just to stay in school. Casserly promises: "We're going to fight until we get what we need, and we're not going to back down at all."

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