That there will be no State University of New York tuition increase for the 1997-1998 academic year is, no doubt, good news not just for students, but for those principled citizens who feel an investment like education should not be sacrificed for short-term financial gain or special interests.
It is still imperative, however, that we not forget whose campaign promise it was to cut higher education, restrict affordability and, in turn, accessibility.
Gov. Pataki, the architect of the unpredictable tuition increase, has set the wheels of misfortune in motion.
Students do not know what the rate of tuition will be until shortly before the academic year begins. Nor can they anticipate whether there is to be a mid-semester increase in tuition. Worst of all, as in the case of the University at Buffalo, university officials have begun planning to cut programs like music, limit degree tracks in selective departments and consolidate what have traditionally been recognized as distinctive disciplines into centers or institutes, disregarding the work of scientists who struggled for years to prove that disciplines within the social sciences were individual, and merited their own degree track.
This is selfish and cowardly. Times have been tough before. The difference is that people didn't take the easy way out. Principle came first. One's sense of principle is the first and last thing we are left with in this world. The challenge comes in holding on to it.
No matter what interest group you are associated with in New York State or what political party you are affiliated with, a well-rounded education is worth the investment. Education produces. It results in a skilled work force. That will jump-start the economy, not limiting choices.
I don't blame university officials for being confused by Pataki's waffling on not only whether there is to be an increase, but what the increase will be. I do hope the tide can be turned. If it weren't for legislators like Assemblymen Sam Hoyt and Edward Sullivan, who can honestly say they've remained true to themselves during the higher education debates, SUNY would stand for nothing.
I hope the university officials I respect so much find the courage to do the right thing. If not for themselves, for the students they have not yet met and will never meet because their programs have been limited or altogether abolished.
KIMBERLY CONIDI University Council Representative
University at Buffalo