Town Hall Meeting Discusses The State of Higher Education

April 6, 2011 Updated Apr 6, 2011 at 11:40 PM EDT

By Lou Chilelli

April 6, 2011 Updated Apr 6, 2011 at 11:40 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) -- The progress of UB 2020 is not sitting well with some groups here in western New York. Concerns about tuition increases and a lack of accountability have student groups questioning the plan. Students, faculty and staff organizations from the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College held a town hall type meeting Wednesday night. They are unhappy with the funding cuts for education in this year's state budget. They are also worried that the proposed UB 2020 plan will have a negative impact on future students.

"These tuition increases and these cuts are making all of us who are not privy the kind of economic resources that Wall Street has, dependant on loans, dependant on squabbling trying to work and trying to survive," said Buffalo State College student Cliff Cawthon. The Defend Our Education Coalition sponsored the meeting. They say they what to see state tuition rates stay at an affordable level.

Chris Buckman is a member of the Graduate Student Employees Union. "The purpose of the State University is to allow all citizens of New York, who want to get higher education to be able to afford to go to school. It's about accessibility. But, if this UB 2020 legislation goes through, tuition will actually double or more for undergraduates here at UB by 2020," he explained.

Many here understand the university's desire to expand and the regions need for the influx of investment. But, they don't want the system to loose sight of it's mission of education. "Building takes years. But, bringing in new tenure track faculty...bringing in people who are innovative thinkers and great instructors..we can see the results of those sorts of actions tomorrow," added Caydon Mak, a member of the Defend Our Education Coalition. Those at the meeting don't want to see state lawmakers give up the current level of oversight they have over the SUNY system.