Hundreds Of Students Protest Proposed SUNY Cuts
Hundreds of SUNY Fredonia students protested the proposed cut of 13 campus programs Thursday.
The protest came together quickly, just a day after University President Stephen Kolison announced the cuts. The protest was organized by Alex Fisher, a political science and writing major, and several other students.
Benjamin Evans, a major in writing and animation, called the cuts “a ridiculous way to handle saving SUNY Fredonia. This is a liberal arts school, and slashing the arts budget, getting rid of programs, is not the right way to deal with it. We suffered from our enrollment going down after our funds were cut. We need more funds from the SUNY system so we can recover from this.”
He added, “I’m really happy with how many people are here. People from every department are here, not just the ones being cut.”
Political science major Michael Williams called Kolisons’s announcement “pretty crazy. The fact Kolison left and didn’t stay for questions after he announced his cuts.” He added, “They end up cutting those very same degrees they bragged about for the whole presentation. It makes no sense to anyone if you hype up all these degrees in education and liberal arts and then you cut them 30 minutes later.”
Protesters gathered in the Fenton Hall lobby around noon and reportedly tried to visit Kolison’s office, but he was not there. They then marched around campus, stopping at Maytum Hall to chant slogans in front of the provost’s office. Then they went to the university President’s House on Central Avenue for a few minutes before returning to campus. Kolison did not make an appearance there, either.
University Police shadowed the whole demonstration, and an officer parked in Kolison’s driveway when the protesters showed up. The officers did not interfere with the protest. The Fredonia Police Department also sent a unit over to watch it, from the driveway of the Presbyterian Church across Central Avenue.
As the protest snaked around, groups of students kept joining in, drawing hearty cheers. Drivers occasionally honked in support, also garnering cheers.
Chants included “No to cuts” and “Save our majors.” There was also “Calm down, Kolison, calm down” and “Empathy, my ass” — referencing statements the president made Wednesday while announcing the cuts.
There was also “SUNY, SUNY, give us money, Buffalo has enough.” That’s in reference to the state’s decision to focus funding hikes on “flagship” campuses such as Buffalo’s.
The OBSERVER is no expert at crowd estimation — but there had to be at least 200 students in the protest, far outnumbering the 74 whose majors were cut.