To the editor:
I am writing to respond to a recent Pipe Dream article that covered last Wednesday’s forum on discrimination. During the event, one student was quoted as saying NYSUNY 2020’s tuition policy is discriminatory; however, the new tuition policy enacted by our state will actually increase access to Binghamton University for students who are from financially disadvantaged families and who are historically underrepresented in higher education. As stated in the NYSUNY 2020 legislation: “This law will maintain affordability by establishing tuition credits, which will require SUNY and CUNY to apply a credit against the tuition charged to a student. The amount of the applicable tuition credit will be based on the level of a student’s tuition assistance program (TAP) award.” As I have discussed at length with many groups and shown in this year’s faculty hiring results, NYSUNY 2020 allows us to hire more faculty, lower our student to faculty ratio, increase course offerings, admit more students, and thus increase access to Binghamton University.
The article also discussed a student concern about cutbacks in the Clifford Clark Fellowship program. The Clark Fellowship program, which currently supports 57 graduate students at Binghamton University, is not being cut back. Due to the high retention rate of students in the program, we must reduce the number of new Clark Fellows this year in order to return to the number of students (approximately 48) that the program is designed and budgeted to support. It is important to note that the Clark program is just one of many similar programs at Binghamton University through which we provide financial, advising and academic support to more than 800 students from disadvantaged backgrounds. These programs include our Educational Opportunity Program, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program, the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program, the Bridges to the Doctorate program, and the McNair Scholars Program. These programs are among the reasons that the success rates of students from underrepresented backgrounds are so high at Binghamton University; for example, students in our EOP program graduate at the highest rate of any SUNY EOP program.
Lastly, a concern was raised about investing in programs that do not have diverse student populations. In fact, Binghamton University is actively engaged in ways to increase diversity through the scholarship and advising programs mentioned above, and our work has resulted in diversity that exceeds peer institutions such as the University of Delaware, University of Virginia, University of Connecticut, University of Michigan and the University of Colorado. I know that we can never do enough to reduce racism and discrimination, but more will be done while I serve at Binghamton as we focus attention on diversity and inclusiveness. Binghamton University has been and will continue to be committed to helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are historically underrepresented in higher education.
President, Binghamton University