Letter to the editor: Educational Opportunity Program cuts not the way to reduce overall budget
An article published recently in The Spectrum that warns of a reduction to the students admitted to the Educational Opportunity Program by approximately half has left me concerned and frustrated. I understand that SUNY must operate within the funds it is allocated in the State’s budget, but I question the decision making process that concluded EOP should face such a dramatic reduction in funding.
Will the bloated salaries of administrators be facing equally as dramatic reductions? Was that option even on the table? Forty-three of the top 50 public earners in New York work for SUNY or CUNY and have six-figure salaries with 18 of those very employees working here at UB, as The Spectrum reported in February. President Tripathi had a state salary of $431,970 in 2017 alone. Vice President A. Scott Weber made $316,200. Head football coach Lance Leipold has a yearly compensation of at least $400,000. At the state level, SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson makes $560,000. These numbers don’t include the compensation administrators also receive from the SUNY Research Fund or from their respective university foundations.
Why are our public universities paying administrators such gratuitous salaries while debate in Albany regarding budget cuts is limited to either raising tuition or cutting programs? I understand that budget cuts are a reality of institutions dependant on state funding. I understand that salaries must be competitive in order to attract qualified individuals to those positions. However, I reject the implicit argument that these salaries are beyond reproach, and I take issue with the targeting of a program like EOP as the first place to reduce spending. If the SUNY system isn’t actively putting resources towards underserved New Yorker’s ability to access higher education, we are betraying the ideal of education as a right and instead are further entrenching the economic barriers that make it a privilege.
Moreover, the idea that budget cuts can only be handled with cuts to programs like EOP or increases in tuition is a rotten ultimatum which leaves us all with the short end of the stick. Sooner or later, it could be your program cut or all of our tuitions raised. We must begin to understand that these cuts and tuition raises are directly tied to maintaining the inflated salaries of the administrators running our universities. We must understand that when programs like EOP are seen as expendable, it is based on the assumption that education is a privilege and not a right. We must question the structures which hand us these faulty ultimatums in the first place.
I strongly condemn SUNY’s choice to cut funding to the Educational Opportunity Program, and I challenge my peers to do the same.
Junior environmental studies and political science major
Fossil Free UB core team member