SUNY: Nothing is Free

Cady Kuzmich, News Editor

Cady-300x287How many dishes will you have to wash to pay your rent this month? How many hours’ worth of pruney chemical-stained fingers must you endure to afford tuition? These are the questions you ask yourself as your soapy hands dunk below the grimy waters, scrubbing someone’s semi-chewed leftovers off a plate. Suddenly, you’re reminded of your mother’s voice, “Don’t be wasteful. Scrape your plate!” You remember the disappointment in her eyes and want to make it up to her. You shove every last morsel in your chipmunk cheeks and choke down the last bit of meatloaf or spinach or whatever it is that kids don’t like.

We’re taught at a young age not to be wasteful. Yet, it seems the lesson hasn’t stuck with us. We’ve become excessive in more ways than one; from food to social networking and drug use. This excess, while curbed by our mothers, is encouraged by society and by our own university.

Just a couple weeks ago during Red Dragon Week, the quad filled up with wacky waving inflatable tube men, face painters, cartoonists and free burritos. An all-out shebang to really welcome the freshman class. Welcome them to what, exactly?

Did we choose Oneonta for kicks and giggles, face paint and glitter? Did the pond shaped like New York State sway your college decision? Or did you choose Oneonta because you wanted to get the biggest bang for your buck? After all, nothing is free, not even wacky waving inflatable tube men.

College is supposed to be a place to gain useful skills and insight. It should be a glimpse into what lies ahead. After two years here, I’ve learned that nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, we are thrown carnivals and guided into pleasant denial. The recession will be over once we graduate, right? Day after day, we waste away our youth sitting in poorly lit classrooms staring at smart boards as our professors fumble over their slides and the guy in the back row plays on his iPhone.  We are being coddled to the point of numbness. Think back to the classes you took last semester. The semester before that. How memorable were they? How much did you pay for them? Now think back to your favorite book or a one-on-one conversation with a professor or professional in your field. Which made more of an impact? The answer may make you question why you’re burying yourself in debt at a school that thinks balloon men and burritos are good educational investments. Take a minute to think of the price put on institutionalized education. Now think about how much it costs to get a library card from Huntington Library just down the street. Tell me you don’t feel queasy.

Controversy over SUNY’s lavish spending recently hit New Paltz where SUNY executive David Lavellee collected his annual salary of $316,000 while taking a six-month leave according to Jeremiah Horrigan’s article in the Times-Herald Record. Keep in mind, Lavellee is collecting this pay while adjuncts are fighting to get paid $3,000 per course.  As many of you know, SUNY Oneonta just recently added several administrators. Have you wondered what impact this will have on your college experience? Would you look up from your phone if your major or a favorite adjunct got cut in order to pay the salaries of these new administrators?

Maybe the cost of Red Dragon Week didn’t add up to much in the grand scheme of things and maybe all the administrators are taking pay cuts to ensure the students aren’t losing out, but isn’t it worth asking? When so many of us come home with pockets turned inside out, it feels like a slap in the face to see such frivolous spending.

Whether you’re taking out loans, borrowing from your parents or working your way through on your own, we all know that college isn’t getting any cheaper. predicts that in ten years, a year at SUNY Oneonta will cost students roughly $40,000. Prices are steadily rising, making the price of our state university more and more comparable to its private neighbors. I’ve heard professors joke that soon we’ll no longer be the State University of New York but rather the Private University of New York (PUNY) Oneonta. Has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?


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