price you pay: University at Albany student Gabrielle
by John Whipple
study shows New York public university system becoming more
costly while state support declines
she finish her studies at the University at Albany, Gabrielle
Smith wants to teach university English as it was never taught
think Edgar Allen Poe is so cool and, in general, an overlooked
author,” said Smith. “He is easy to understand and easy to
read, but instead, professors pick books they would enjoy
and ones they understand. I think I can make English fun.”
But Smith may not have the chance to teach if trends in New
York state higher education continue as reported in a study
released last week by the New York Public Interest Research
The report shows that the average cost of attending New York
state’s four-year public universities and community colleges
nearly doubled between 1990 and 2000. Yet state support for
higher- education funding declined by 22 percent.
education is absolutely essential for individuals who want
to get a job to make ends meet,” said Miriam Kramer, NYPIRG’s
higher education coordinator. “We have an increase in cost
and decline in state support, which then lends itself to a
shift in the burden. Public higher education is a good that
New York should be investing in.”
NYPIRG’s report shows that the cost of attending New York’s
four-year public colleges is higher than the national average;
our four-year public schools are the nation’s 14th most
expensive, while two-year community colleges are the 5th most
costly in the country. In contrast, the costs of four-year
public schools in California, Florida and Texas ranked 43rd,
45th and 36th respectively. Along with the report, NYPIRG
sent a letter to Gov. George Pataki and elected officials
urging them to reverse these trends.
governor has held a line on SUNY tuition for seven years,
including this year when facing a major economic challenge,”
said Ken Brown, spokesman for the state division of budget.
“New York holds the most generous tuition assistance program
in the country.”
While tuition at State University of New York schools has
been maintained at $3,400 since its $750 increase in 1995,
NYPIRG’s report more directly addresses the rising cost in
fees. Using statistics from the U.S. Department of Education,
the report stated that rising fees, growing by an average
of $90 a year, account for the highest cost increase to students
and their parents.
For example, fees at the University at Albany in 1995 totaled
$556; by 2001 they had more than doubled, to $1,250. According
to NYPIRG’s study, the fees at SUNY Maritime College, located
in the Bronx, are the most costly at $1,555.
NYPIRG’s report was released amid speculation that the state
Legislature may reconvene in November to balance the state’s
reported $8 billion budget deficit. The group fears that a
tuition increase may be considered to aide the state’s fiscal
Critics have said that these fees, which cannot be paid for
with money from New York’s Tuition Assistance Program, coupled
with a possible tuition hike, may deter some students from
extra money of a tuition increase will be the straw that breaks
the camel’s back,” said Assemblyman Ed Sullivan (D-Manhattan),
chairman of the Assembly’s education committee. “Students
will put it [attending] off for a year and they’ll never come
Sullivan said a tuition increase that denies students the
opportunity to attend college is lost opportunity for investment
in the state of New York.
is an investment and it comes back four, five, six times,”
Sullivan said. “That investment comes back in increased tax
revenues due to increased income from going to college.”
to the Web site of the Higher Education Services Corporation,
the state agency administering TAP, New York’s investment
in tuition assistance has fluctuated, but mostly declined
since 1996. The number of students receiving TAP steadily
declined by 11 percent, with 25,390 fewer students receiving
aid in 2000 than in 1996. The total amount of money spent
on TAP also declined during that period by 16.2 percent.
interests of college students and higher education must be
protected in any budget negotiations,” said Charlene Piper,
Brooklyn College student and chairwoman of NYPIRG’s board
of directors. “We urge legislators to take higher education
off any chopping block and take no measures that would undermine
the already fragile affordability that exists at New York’s
While Brown said Gov. Pataki intends to keep higher education
costs down as budget negotiations move forward, it is “too
early to speculate” on a SUNY tuition increase.
Smith, the sixth of seven daughters attending college on the
salaries of a former New York City fireman and a secretary,
fears that any tuition increase may prevent her from becoming
a college professor. She currently works 35 hours a week as
assistant manager at Orange Julius while speeding through
her studies in UAlbany’s combined bachelor’s/master’s English
have received TAP and financial aid,” said Smith, “but everything
else I pay. I took the job because it has down time so I can
read. I stay up late and wake up early to get my work done.
I don’t have any choice; work can’t interfere with my studies.”
land is our land: protesters in front of the governors
by Leif Zurmuhlen
Nation Under Ray
protestors support Oneida woman’s effort to save her home
from federally appointed tribal-court leader
sounds of Native American chanting and drum beating could
be heard in front of the governor’s mansion in Albany last
Friday, as demonstrators gathered to show their support for
Danielle Schenandoah Patterson, an Oneida women who faces
eviction and the demolition of her home.
here today because I’m shocked this is going on right here
in New York state,” said Bhawin Suchak, a teacher at the Albany
With signs and banners held high, close to 50 protestors lined
Eagle Street, as Diane Schenandoah, Patterson’s sister, spoke
out against what she calls “acts of terrorism in the name
of beautification” against the Oneida people.
The Oneida Nation Government, under the leadership of Arthur
Ray Halbritter, ordered Patterson’s trailer to be torn down
because, they said, it has deteriorated beyond repair. Art
Pierce, the nation’s public safety commissioner, called Patterson’s
trailer a fire trap because it had no foundation, a leaking
roof, broken windows and rotting floors. The Oneida tribal
court backed the inspection and ordered Patterson to leave
her home by Sept. 15.
As a result, hundreds of people have come out to the land,
located 45 miles east of Syracuse, to act as a human barricade
preventing Patterson’s mobile home from being destroyed.
Schenandoah said that the protesters are out in full force
because the housing ordinance is just another ploy by Halbritter
to further his beautification project, where homes are inspected,
condemned and demolished under the guise of health and safety,
even though some of these homes were just built in 1990.
Halbritter’s leadership, she added, was imposed upon the Oneida
people against their will by the Federal Department of the
Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1987. She said that
his appointment didn’t follow suit with traditional ancestral
laws and customs of the Haudenosaunee, the Iroquois Six Nations
wields power only through federal recognition,” said Patterson.
“The Iroquois Six Nations [Oneida, Onondoga, Mohawk, Seneca,
Tuscorora and Cayuga] have continuously notified the BIA that
Halbritter does not represent the Oneida people, as he does
not follow our elective nor traditional forms and there is
no process through which the people can remove him from this
appointed federal position.”
Therefore, she added, he is not their legitimate tribal leader.
But since the BIA appointed Halbritter, a Harvard graduate
who owns and operates Turning Stone Resort and Casino, he
has control over the laws of the Oneida land. Halbritter did
not return numerous calls for this story.
For years, Schenandoah said, the Oneida people have fought
to stop Halbritter, who is also her first cousin, from evicting
people from their homes. She also pointed out that Patterson,
her sister, is part of one of the last remaining families
residing on the sovereign territory. She said that the only
option offered to people once evicted is to pay rent to Halbritter
for homes outside of the community.
13 homes have been destroyed,” said Schenandoah. “The remaining
resisting families are continually harassed by a non-native
police force formed by Halbritter.”
Since 1995, she added, Halbritter has locked the traditional
longhouse, closed the community food bank and cut off hundreds
of Oneida from the tribal rolls, stripping them of their benefits
and taking away many tribal rights.
are disturbed by Halbritter insisting that out homes be destroyed,”
said Schenandoah. “These are our homes and the land upon which
our ancestors lived and died. We wish to remain here.”
recent mugging spree has some Albany residents worried, but
police say that they have everything under control
it’s strong-arm tactics, punches and choke holds, and in other
cases it’s a box cutter or a gun; either way, Albany residents
have been mugged more this year than in any of the past three
Albany Police predict the trend may level out by December,
but by their calculation, muggings in the city rose about
10 percent since last year.
In the beginning of September, during the first week of classes
for most local universities, two Saint Rose students were
held up at gunpoint in front of Brubacher Hall on the University
at Albany’s downtown Alumni Quad. Another student was attacked
on Quail Street and escaped, according to Detective James
Miller, spokesman for the Albany Police Department. Police
have since arrested three people in connection with the Quail
Street attack and another recent mugging in the parking lot
of the Water Works Pub on Central Avenue.
This is a tricky problem, Miller explained, since students
can be easy targets because of their lifestyles and the late
hours many of them keep.
majority of the robberies that are occurring are late at night,”
Miller said. “I don’t care where you live anymore, that’s
just not a safe practice. . . . But we’re not trying to get
them to stop going out—that’s college life, especially in
the Pine Hills section.”
The College of Saint Rose and UAlbany have both made attempts
to address safety issues since the attacks, but many have
said that the schools should be doing more.
Of more than 30 students polled on UAlbany’s uptown campus
last week, many of whom live downtown, none were aware of
A UAlbany residential assistant, who asked to remain anonymous,
said that she learned of the attacks only informally from
a university police officer and said that the school is not
doing enough to make students aware of the muggings.
know there were more [problems not reported],” she said. “I’d
have flyers posted, and I would have made Residential Life
hold section meetings to make the students aware of it.”
Miller and many storeowners on Lark Street agreed that the
police have made great progress in Center Square, where roughly
seven strong-arm and knifepoint robberies occurred in July
and August. Police initiated a special patrol that led to
the arrest and indictment of four Albany men. Miller said
that muggings leveled off in the area after their arrest.
majority of the time it’s someone committing multiple crimes,”
Miller said. “Once you arrest that person and kick them off
the street, you generally won’t see that occurring to any
kind of level to which you had before.”
But some Lark Street residents decided to take matters into
their own hands, and this past May, formed Neighbors For Safety.
Steve Minchin, one of the group’s founders, said he took action
after a surge in attacks in the spring.
Minchin said that in the first two weeks of May, he heard
of more crimes than in the past five years that he has lived
in Center Square.
Through awareness campaigns, posting flyers, and a “stoop
and watch” program where residents take shifts keeping an
eye out for suspicious activity, Minchin said the difference
we get more people involved, it seems we’re hearing about
fewer events,” Minchin said.
Minchin said similar efforts in other neighborhoods could
bring parallel results.
Some merchants noted that other problems are harder to address.
tend to see more drug-driven crowds hanging around,” said
Dennis Phayre, owner of Shades of Green, a restaurant on Lark
Street. “You see prostitutes soliciting right outside here.
. . . It doesn’t take that many people to really change the
character of the neighborhood.”
Phayre said he feared that drug activity out of nearby drug
houses would build to a breaking point. Sonny Dudley, owner
of Hot Dog Heaven, a Lark Street eatery, said that while he
is not as concerned about the recent spree of muggings, panhandlers
and alcoholics were scaring some people in the neighborhood.
Some have said that part of the problem is a general acceptance
among residents who begin to perceive muggings, drug activity
and prostitution as part of normal daily life.
are a lot of ‘normal’ activities going on that are going to
drive me and my young children and my wife out,” Phayre said.
According to Miller, community involvement is as important
as police intervention.
think it’s too typical,” Miller said, “to just say we’ll saturate
the city with police officers on every corner.”