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SUNY Purchase Students Protest Tuition Hikes

PURCHASE, N.Y. -- SUNY Purchase students held a mock funeral this afternoon for the New York State college system. The students are protesting tuition hikes, which would increase tuition at state schools by $300 every year for the next five years.

Students stood near the clock tower outside of the library where a mock headstone and mock casket were set up to “mourn” the “death” of the SUNY system.

“I think that it is insane that we live in one of the wealthiest countries and we have to pay for tuition,” said SUNY Purchase freshman Geovanna Borden. “Education should be a right. It’s essential to have it to get a job. Our education system just seems backwards.”

The protest was organized by the SUNY Purchase chapters of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and New York Students Rising (NYSR), as well as the college’s sociology club. NYPIRG Project Coordinator Alex Wojcik said that the protest was meant to “mourn” the death of affordability of higher education in the state

“It’s becoming more difficult for students to get financial aid,” Wojcik said. “State funding to education has decreased by a billion dollars over the last four years. This is a dire circumstance.”

NYSR Member Eric Bjorkman said that the purpose of the protest was to create a stronger voice amongst students. Bjorkman is one of many who plan to go up to Albany on March 14 to protest the tuition hikes.

“All over the world people are taking issues larger than themselves into their own hands,” Bjorkman said. “We are creating a platform to empower their voices to get them out there and be heard.”

SUNY Purchase Senior Matt Sekellick said that the SUNY system is “strangling” students with the tuition hikes. Sekellick, who serves as chair of the SUNY Purchase Student Senate, said that many students can’t afford higher education, which he said they have a right to have.

“People who are cynical about this protest are not helping,” Sekellick said. “They are part of the problem.”

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