Yesterday (Wednesday), students and educators in the hundreds at UAlbany participated in the statewide SUNY Walkout/Teach-In to protest tuition hikes and education cuts. The protest began at 1 PM; a little after 2, UAlbany President George Philip agreed to let the students and teachers into University Hall for an open forum on the issues (media were excluded).
The protesters listed five demands: Repeal the tuition hike ($300/year for the next five years); have SUNY administration advocate for students, not corporate interests; secure adequate state funding; institute a transparent and participatory budget process; and implement “responsible and reasonable administration pay as a part of our shared sacrifices in difficult fiscal times.” To underscore the fifth point, protesters displayed the salaries of top SUNY administrators, some of which reach well into the mid to upper six figures.
“Basically, students are going to be paying more for less; there have already been five departments on our campus that have been cut,” said Jackie Hayes, a graduate student in the Latin American Studies department and one of the event organizers. “I also teach a 300-level class of 75 students, and I have no TAs. I’m only making $13,000 a year and taking on more and more work as the budgets get cut further; I’m not able to pay the attention to my students that they deserve. . . . As someone who wants to be an educator, it doesn’t feel good at the end of the day.”