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The Latest SUNY Hoax

Today the Buffalo News ran a story with the improbable headline, “SUNY Students Support Tuition Increases.”

Here’s the lede: A student delegation representing the state’s 465,000 public college students is attacking Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed budget, not because he’s raising tuition, but because he isn’t.

And later in the story: Members of the SUNY Assembly, which represents all 64 SUNY campuses, used an online survey to gather feedback from students across the state, then went on record recently in favor of what they call a rational tuition policy, proposed as recently as two weeks ago by Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher.

Unfortunately, our daily paper appears to be the victim of a hoax.

According to Kyle J. Hill, Interim Director of Communications for the SUNY Student Assembly, here’s how this comprehensive statewide survey went down: “It’s pretty basic. We don’t have a lot of resources. We just used Survey Monkey. We sent it out to all the student government presidents, and from there they sent it to their students.”

How many replies did they get back, total? 489, according to Hill. And they weren’t all in favor of jacking up tuition—but let’s just say they were. That would represent one-tenth of one percent of the 465,000 public college students in New York.


“We were hoping more people would take the survey, but the timing when we sent it out wasn’t most convenient for most students. But we’re in regular contact with student government presidents,” Hill said.

“We also had a lengthy discussion at our conference in Binghamton—which included all the schools. Or, at least all the schools were invited. But it was most of the schools. And there we discussed the rational tuition plan. Our organization has been in favor of the rational tuition plan since October, 2008. And we re-endorsed that plan three weeks ago in Rochester at our executive committee meeting. So it wasn’t just the survey.”

In the News article, Julie Gondar, president of the SUNY Student Assembly, says this: “We feel keeping tuition at the current level is simply not sustainable, and does not support access and affordability in the long term.”

Gondar’s presidential post also makes her the sole student representative on the SUNY Board of Trustees. She was elected to her position in a process that involves a couple hundred voting members of the various student governments from the 64 campuses in the system.

  • Jordan D

    As a SUNY at Buffalo grad student, I can tell you that at least one student government (the GSA) is not in favor of this. The Student Assembly is a joke, staffed by bunch of undergraduate (no offense) brown-nosers, itching for jobs in Higher Education Administration.

  • Peter A Reese

    Sounds like the Student Assembly is a puppet creation of the SUNY Trustees. I don’t know of anyone who has ever heard of it. Really surprising that they would slavishly support SUNY policies isn’t it? Looks like Julie Gondar is wired for one of those high paid administrative jobs at SUNY Buffalo.

  • Bob

    Hoax? The students created the student assembly. The undergraduate students elect the leaders. Disappointed that they think for themselves? It is the graduate student association that has been drinking the kool aid. They (almost all) aspire to SUNY Faculty positions.

    The bottom line is that Buck has absolutely nothing to back up his claim of a “hoax”. Headlines like that sell papers though. (At least for papers that are sold)

  • Jim Holstun

    Hiya, “Bob”! Tell me something–does your faith in the legitimacy of the survey quaver a little bit when you find it rests on a .1% return rate, and a service called “Survey Monkey”?

  • Yes, hoax.

    Definition of HOAX
    : an act intended to trick or dupe : imposture
    : something accepted or established by fraud or fabrication

    verb \ˈhōks\
    Definition of HOAX
    transitive verb
    : to trick into believing or accepting as genuine something false and often preposterous

    adj \pri-ˈpäs-t(ə-)rəs\
    Definition of PREPOSTEROUS
    : contrary to nature, reason, or common sense : absurd

    The SUNY Student Assembly did a survey of 489 students, or one-tenth of one percent of SUNY undergrads (.1%). To use that data to support anything is preposterous. Who’s teaching these students to make arguments like this? The Department of Statistics?

    The fact that they were able to get this message printed in a major daily newspaper might be a pretty awesome college prank, except for the fact that some people will actually read the Buffalo News headline and believe it.

  • Peter A Reese

    Dear Bob:

    Fact Check Time. The Student Assembly is a creation of the Trustees of SUNY, established per their Guidelines.


  • Chop from the Top

    The UAlbany students have it right. Before I pay anymore taxes I want a salary cap for SUNY administrators. The highest paid people in the state are SUNY employees, Kaloyeros – $755,000, Zimpher – $490,000 (up over $600,000 when all bennies are added in), Kinsella (Vising HS professor) – $489,250, Onesti Professor&Chrmn M Gft – $481,644. – 443 people in SUNY earning over $200,000 a year.

    No tax caps with out salary caps.

  • Peter A Reese


    Kaloyeros ain’t even close to the highest paid. Stay tuned for more revelations in an Artvoice near you. BTW, Kaloyeros may be worth the money because he actually is productive and brings in dough. The other drones are unknown and unaccomplished.

  • Jake Sechowski

    This is all pretty funny, because administrators, trustees, assemblymembers, senators, and the governor shouldn’t give a crap about what any of us think. SUNY is simply not sustainable under the current funding model. I’m not sure why Jim Holstun and others can’t get that through their thick heads. The LAST thing students want to endure is program cuts, larger class sizes, etc. So if it means paying a little bit more to maintain or even improve quality, then let’s do it.

  • Jim Holstun

    Jim Holstun’s thick hed sez: “Jake, get money from rich people. Do tax thing. Give money back working people they stole from. Do now. Threaten rich with riots ‘n nastiness til cough up dough.”

    Tax the Rich, Jake. Make them squeal. Get it?

  • Jonathan Wellinton-Fidrych III

    Mr. Holstun:

    As a representative of the extremely wealthy, you should know we resent your Islamo-Facistic-Marxist proposals to tax those of us who have accummulated riches due to our own labors. We are the ones who do all the heavy lifting in WNY and without our leadership Buffalo would never be the same. Your attitude has been noted!