We kicked off our advocacy early this year with a new team of over 45 student leaders excited to lead new initiatives ranging from international student issues to environmental sustainability. Over just one week in July, President Ostro attended individual meetings with prominent New York State representatives.
President Ostro traveled from his home in New York City to the office of Senator Toby Stavisky. Senator Stavisky has been a longtime advocate for the Student Assembly and is the Chairwoman of the Higher Education committee. He then stopped by Senator Robert Jackson’s office. Senator Jackson is a proud graduate of SUNY New Paltz and also the Chairman of the Cities Committee and a member of the Higher Education Committee. President Ostro then traveled upstate and attended a meeting with Senator Joe Robach. Senator Robach, who received his undergraduate and Masters in Public Administration from SUNY Brockport, is a member of the Higher Education Committee. Lastly, President Ostro met with Assemblywoman and member of the Higher Education Committee, Jamie Romeo.
President Ostro spoke with these respective offices about potential areas of collaboration with the Student Assembly over the next year. Areas of cooperation include several prominent student issues, ranging from tuition to supporting community colleges. We sincerely appreciate the Senators' and Assemblywoman's time and consideration.
The Student Assembly is expanding our advocacy efforts and increasing our impact on the student experience throughout SUNY. Taking meetings with state officials and stakeholders in higher education policy is essential to this effort and part of our broader strategic goals as an organization. As we move forward into the upcoming year, strategic partnerships with representatives are an invaluable part of our advocacy.
In past years, we have seen great success with our advocacy. One great example of the success of our advocacy is the legislative improvements that have been made to the community college funding model. The original formula was volume-based, taking into account only how many full-time equivalent students were enrolled on campus to determine funding. As student enrollment declined and costs remained fixed, community colleges throughout New York State were left underfunded and in need of support. After partnering with a handful of other higher education organizations to advocate for the whole of last year, we secured a major victory for SUNY community colleges. This year, community colleges are guaranteed at least 98% of the previous year's budget. Meetings like the ones that President Ostro took help build relationships with legislators to ensure successful advocacy.
Some other areas of our successful advocacy include expanding the Educational Opportunity Program and the Student Emergency Fund. Additionally, we have worked hard to increase the ensure that SUNY is environmentally sustainable and restore funding to Telecounseling. Throughout the upcoming year, the Student Assembly will continue to lobby for policy areas that elevate SUNY and its students.
We look forward to another exciting year of advocacy across New York State, and to increasing our role in the higher education issues that affect SUNY's 1.4 million students.
Written by Michael Stefanko, SUNY Student Assembly Director of Government Relations, School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell