Among the hundreds of peaceful demonstrators at Wednesday’s Capitol Camp-in were students, parents and graduates of the state’s senior and community public colleges. They included Caitlin Kempf and Steve Moss, both students at Adirondack Community College.
“It was supposed to be my senior year, but because of SUNY, I’m back at my sophomore year,” Kempf said. She transferred this year from the University at Albany to Adirondack because her tuition at UAlbany rose by $2,000 last year.
“Adirondack Community College is $2,000 a semester,” she said.
The day of action was organized by a coalition that included Citizen Action New York; the Alliance for Quality Education; and Save Our SUNY. Protestors hugged the walls as state troopers reminded them to keep open a path to the steps. The activists packed the fourth-floor landing at the entrance to the Senate Chambers, shouting slogans, issuing calls for the retention of the so-called “Millionaire’s Tax,” and waving signs, but remaining calm.
Peg Rapp, a former United Federation of Teachers member and a former instructor at SUNY’s Empire State College, said she came to support public higher education because her son, Aurelio Rapp-Jimenez, wants to attend CUNY but realizes he may not be admitted now that CUNY has a waiting list.
Fellow protestor Sandra Turner, a retired child psychiatrist, recalled that Hunter College had been her last best hope for a college education.
Said Turner, “My parents could never have paid for me to go to college, and when I went to Hunter, it was free.”