SUNY Hike Protest Trek Grows

Copyright 2003 Daily News, L.P.
Daily News (New York)
February 26, 2003, Wednesday

Braving gusty winds and ignoring the thick layer of ice and snow coating their campus, Queens College students picked up the torch yesterday in a statewide march against tuition hikes.

The march, the third leg of the No Tuition Hike, is a 561-mile protest trek that began at Stony Brook University on Long Island this week.

It is designed to pressure Gov. Pataki into dropping his proposed 35% tuition increase for state universities, which will likely affect the City University system as well. Tuition boosts at CUNY's 11 senior colleges and six community colleges traditionally follow State University of New York increases.

"We're barely making it as it is," said Queens College junior Amy Kolacz, 19, of Woodhaven. "If this goes through, I'll be a part-time student and work full-time."

Kolacz joined the placard-carrying student group that protested on the Queens College quad yesterday morning, then set out on an 11-mile march to New York City Technical College in downtown Brooklyn.

If the changes go into effect, students will be forced to come up with an additional $1,200 per year on top of the present $3,400 cost.

"[Students] are taking a disproportionate hit," said Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Jamaica Estates), who joined the student protest yesterday. "I understand these are hard times, but . . . this is going to have a devastating impact."

Gennaro, who teaches political science and environmental public policy at Queens College, has sponsored a resolution to spare CUNY schools from a tuition increase.

The students plan to bring their complaints to City Hall tomorrow afternoon, then continue on to Albany for a large-scale rally March 11 with students who are making a simultaneous march from Buffalo.