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For Immediate Release
December 4, 2023

UUP Fredonia members to march to oppose anticipated program cuts

Members of United University Professions, America’s largest higher education union, will gather with students and allies for a silent march at SUNY Fredonia tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec. 5) to oppose anticipated program cuts at the campus.

UUP members will also urge SUNY to fund the campus fairly using $163 million in new direct state funding for SUNY.

The lunchtime event coincides with rising concerns about a potential announcement from SUNY that programs will be cut at SUNY Fredonia.

At 12 p.m. noon, members and marchers will gather on campus in front of Fenton Hall, which houses the campus president’s office. They will then march silently across campus to send the message that cuts are not necessary and that significant reductions in programming amount to an assault on the union labor that runs the SUNY system.

SUNY Fredonia, which has reported a $17 million deficit, is one of 18 campuses facing projected multimillion-dollar deficits heading into 2024.

“It’s imperative that campuses like SUNY Fredonia receive equitable funding, so they are able to serve the diverse educational needs of students across the state,” said UUP statewide President Fred Kowal. 

UUP, through its strong advocacy, was instrumental in securing the $163 million, a record investment in SUNY by Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature in the 2023-2024 state budget.

SUNY could have erased deficits at Fredonia the other campuses had it distributed that state aid to campuses based on need. Instead, SUNY’s four university centers received the lion’s share of those funds.

SUNY’s remaining campuses, many of them smaller comprehensive and technical colleges—located in economically depressed rural, upstate communities—split the rest, according to data in the enacted 2023-2024 state budget.

SUNY Fredonia received $2.8 million. SUNY Potsdam, which is cutting 10 degree programs to reduce a $9 million deficit, got $2.5 million.

Kowal also noted that UUP’s members see the cuts at SUNY Potsdam—and potentially at other SUNY campuses—as an attack on the union workers who do the work of educating students at the campuses.

“Making matters worse is that there is a limited and contradictory pattern of communication from SUNY to our union’s members,” Kowal reports. “And to be blunt, they see these steps as continuing the destructive work started under former Gov. Cuomo to defund SUNY.”

Massive Great Recession-era cuts, combined with more than a decade of austerity budgets forced upon SUNY under the Cuomo administration, are mainly to blame for the deficits.

When adjusted for inflation, direct state funding to SUNY was slashed by $7.8 billion since 2008-09—a 39 percent decline. Under Cuomo, students were forced to shoulder the majority of SUNY’s funding through tuition and fees. When Cuomo resigned, students were paying $2 for every dollar the state provided.

“With record funding for SUNY provided by Gov. Hochul and the Legislature, I am frustrated and disappointed that SUNY chose to allocate those monies the way it did,” Kowal said “If SUNY had allocated the $163 million as UUP had argued for—to eliminate multimillion-dollar deficits at 19 SUNY campuses—it would have allowed those campuses to plan for a future without the pressure of an artificial crisis,” Kowal said.

Kowal is urging the SUNY Board of Trustees to reject the Cuomo-era policy of primarily funding SUNY through tuition and student fees and work together to build a “stronger, more accessible and more diverse SUNY for all New Yorkers.”

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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