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Oct 30, 2009

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UUPers, Plattsburgh students rally to protest SUNY budget cuts


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Beneath the gloom of overcast skies that blanketed the SUNY Plattsburgh campus, a large gathering of students and faculty members huddled together—not to keep the heavy rain from soaking through to their skin, but in a mass protest against the governor’s unprecedented cuts to the state university system.

More than a dozen UUPers joined hundreds of Plattsburgh students at the rally, waving signs and chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, SUNY cuts have got to go” and “What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like” as they rallied in the soaking rain.

They refused to let the rain dampen their spirits. Instead, it deepened their resolve.

“I am a product of public school and it was free then,” said UUP member James Armstrong of the anthropology department. “Why should students and parents be the ones to suffer? It is unwise and unfair to balance the state budget on the backs of students.”

Plattsburgh, reeling in the wake of Gov. David Paterson’s Oct. 6 cuts to SUNY, has laid out a proposal to eliminate 66 faculty and staff jobs over the next two years to help wipe out a $3.8 million deficit and prepare for further state cuts.

Plattsburgh Chapter President Dave Curry called that plan unacceptable.

“Sixty-six jobs is untenable,” Curry said. “It would destroy the educational process here at Plattsburgh.”

Following the chants and speeches, dozens of students stayed behind to burn symbolic $100 bills—bills that sported the face of Gov. Paterson.

“The symbolism is about the governor taking SUNY money as if it’s nothing and spending it frivolously,” said Student Association President Lindsay Lyons, a junior. “We want to show him that our money is worth a lot to us and it shouldn’t be burned.”

 


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