Assemblymember Epstein to introduce SUNY Student Assembly Empowerment Act; bill would end decades-long cycle of underfunding SUNY student advocacy
For Immediate Release: April 19, 2021
Assemblymember Epstein, a fierce champion and advocate for higher education investment in New York State, is introducing a bill in the New York State Assembly to establish a $1 fee to support the elected student voices of SUNY students. This bill would ameliorate the inequity that the Student Assembly has faced for decades as it has historically received an average of only $57,000 annually to represent students from SUNY's 64 campuses.
"I’m proud to be working with the SUNY Student Assembly to advance legislation that would empower this important body to do the work of advocating on behalf of students. This is a simple, low-cost model for funding a vital voice for students. I look forward to collaborating with Senator Jackson and members of the SUNY Student Assembly to ensure that the resources are available to help students thrive in their academic careers and beyond,” said Assemblymember Epstein.
SUNY Student Assembly President and Student Trustee Brad Hershenson stated that, "The students of SUNY are deeply grateful to Assemblymember Epstein for his visionary leadership in authoring legislation to support our mission of bringing forward student voices - which is needed now more than ever - and ending the cycle of underfunding our statewide organization."
Senator Robert Jackson, the prominent SUNY New Paltz graduate, has introduced the same legislation in the New York State Senate. For almost two decades SUNY students have been fighting for financial stability that has never been granted. Elected student leaders have long proposed a minor fee to be assessed by SUNY to each student dating back to the year 2002. Other system-wide and state-wide student government organizations (CUNY University Student Senate and California State Student Association) operate with similar models supporting their activities with adequate resources through a $1.45 and $2.00 fee respectively.
With a model similar to national and state peers, sufficient and adequate funding would allow the SUNY Student Assembly to better advocate and lobby for the interests of the SUNY student body. Establishing a permanent and steady funding stream will allow the elected student leaders to raise their voices in support of investment into public higher education and to guide programs and offer resources to students and student government associations within SUNY.
About the SUNY Student Assembly
The Student Assembly of the State University of New York (SUNY SA) is the recognized student government organization representing the nearly 1.4 million students of the State University of New York. Comprised of student leaders elected by their peers from across SUNY’s 64 campuses, SUNY SA is committed to empowering students throughout the state, and ensuring the representation of its members on the state and national level, as well as throughout the SUNY system.