On Tuesday, March 31, New Paltz students organized in protest against the renewal of the SUNY system’s “Rational Tuition Increase,” a state legislative initiative of increasing SUNY tuition by $300 each year for five consecutive years. The initiative is meant to combat unpredictable price hikes students have faced in the past and make up for decreases in state-aid to SUNY over the previous decade.
We at The New Paltz Oracle commend the demonstrators for voicing their opposition to a legislative initiative that has and may perhaps continue to affect them, however we question their preceptive scope regarding the future implications of their demands.
Should there be a tuition-freeze like the protestors have demanded, it would be a short term benefit to a select few at best. The tuition increase are not some sort of arbitrary tax on students, rather a increase to address rising costs which tuition covers. If the rational tuition increase is repealed, current students will not suffer the increased cost, yes, but down the line some years, when the need for the funds become dire, students will face a substantial tuition increase hike. Knowing this, is it truly justified to oppose the rational tuition increase when it equally distributes the cost among all students at the college?
While we understand that it is frustrating and difficult to face an ever-growing tuition increase while enrolled in SUNY, it is a reality we must accept and whose purpose we must realize as SUNY students. Directing animosity toward SUNY New Paltz administration or any singular college administration is a fruitless endeavor — the colleges are only cogs in the greater SUNY machine, ones that must abide by state laws and the system’s initiative. Taking the protest to New Paltz President Donald Christian’s doorstep makes sense in a symbolic gesture to the SUNY system but asking that he accept demands and that the college oppose a system-wide initiative seems a bit trite.
Over time, the cost of everything — whether it be a gallon of milk or our college tuition bills — is bound to increase due to inflation. We live in a world today where the unfortunate reality is that we are going to have to pay more for things than our relatives once had to pay for in the past. This includes college tuition.
That does not take away from the fact that there are indeed problems within our educational system — a great amount of state funding has been lost. With things getting more expensive and state aid decreasing, the only choice that SUNY feasibly has is to raise tuition a few hundred dollars each academic year to make up for the shortfalls.
On the same token, we at The Oracle believe that an increase in state aid may bring the potential for abolishing tuition hikes in the future.
But until then, we will have to pay for the differences whether it be all of us now or a few of us in the future.
Editorials represent the views of the majority of the editorial board. Columns, op-eds and letters, excluding editorials, are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The New Paltz Oracle, its staff members, the campus and university or the Town or Village of New Paltz.