By Fatima Futa
On Tuesday March 15, 2011, the faculty union funded a trip to Albany, NY to the Legislative Building to put an end to the CUNY (City University of New York) and SUNY (State University of New York) budget cuts. I really thought not only was it a positive outlook, but it was a good way to get our voices heard as knowledgeable college students. I knew it was an event I had to be a part of. Students that took part in this trip had to be at NYCCT at 6:00 a.m. sharp, but of course we didn’t leave at that time because we had to wait for stragglers.
The bus reached Albany at 10:38 a.m. The students went into a Junior High School where all of the CUNY and SUNY colleges met and signed up to receive their folders, which let us know what group we were a part of and what activities we would be doing for the day. After we entered the auditorium where we had a continental breakfast and mingled for a while, it was time for us to get to business. We sat in the school auditorium where we were listening to speakers like Natalie Baker talk about the purpose of this exciting trip to Albany. We then proceeded outside where we marched with our banners and signs, shouting, “No budget cuts!” Although I thought the idea was insane, I really had fun marching. What was so appealing to me was the way we as students came together and stood up for our rights. Our spirit and enthusiasm captivated so many people who stood and watched as they were on their way to work, school, or walking their dogs. There were even people looking out their office window. I was completely thrilled.
We finally reached the Legislative Building where all students — and I mean “All Students” — had to undergo what I call the X-Ray metal detector procedure. That process took over an hour which was only okay because our group had to meet with Assemblyman Nick Curry, who happened to have been in a meeting at the time, so instead we met with his assistant Tanuja Mohaton. She was very helpful in answering all our questions we had for the Assemblyman. Mrs. Mohaton let us know a little about Mr. Curry, like when he came to the United States, what year he got his GED, and what college (Brooklyn College) he attended. Mrs. Mohaton also let us know the issues Mr. Curry was involved in, like the Local Initiative Program, the extension of the ‘millionaire tax’, and TAP. She also stated that he has an office in Brooklyn, NY, and if there is anything we needed or wanted to know, we could stop by.
It was now lunch time, but our lunch that was supplied for us was back on the bus. Instead of going back to the bus, we decided to crash SUNY’s catered lunch which was awesome. They were so nice; they didn’t even care; I guess there was more than enough. We had pizza, every kind of cookie you can think of, and soda and water beverages. After getting our bellies filled we went into the chambers. The chamber is this big room where all of the councils meet to discuss business about the State of New York. The room was so warm and beautiful; there were red suede seats, balconies trimmed in gold, and a Solari Departure Board. The only thing about this board was that it wasn’t used for departures LOL (Laughing Out Loud); it was used for events that took place in the state of New York. Now how awesome is that. I’ve seen the Chambers on television, but never in a million years would I have thought I would be in the very same room. What seemed to amaze me even more about the chamber is the red velvet carpet and how the councils had their paper work stacked so neatly. My group and I took so many pictures. We then proceeded back outside to picket some more. Then we played a beat and rapped our message, we danced and took more pictures. It was then time to leave and go home. We left Albany at 4:00 p. m. and arrived in Brooklyn at NYCCT at 7:00 p. m.
At first I wasn’t going to attend this trip, number one, because I’m not a morning person, so waking up that early made me say “no.” But then I thought about it. How could I not be a part of something that may affect my future? I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go to Albany and have an amazing time, but most importantly, I’m happy we as students came together to try and make a difference by getting our voices heard. This was an experience I will never forget.