February 17, 2012
Students from St. John's recently joined in a statewide
effort to raise awareness of the importance of New York State
financial aid by participating in the New York Student Aid Alliance
Advocacy Day in Albany, NY. The event was sponsored by the
Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU).
Students from St. John’s joined in advocacy efforts with over 1,000
college students, faculty and staff from 60 college campuses across
With the release of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed Executive
Budget, critical student aid programs such as: the Tuition
Assistance Program (TAP), Graduate TAP, the Science and Technology
Entry Programs (STEP/C-STEP) the Liberty Partnership Program and
Direct Institutional Aid, are all being negotiated as the annual
budget process commences before the April 1, 2012 budget
Brian Browne, Assistant Vice President for Government Relations,
organizes the annual trip to Albany and stated: “It is
important for our local legislators to hear firsthand of the
critical impact that New York State student aid programs and budget
decisions have on our students. Our students really are our best
advocates for the importance of funding vital student aid
After an early morning departure from the Queens Campus, a very
busy day at the state capital began at 11 a.m. with visits by
special guests and advocacy awareness programming for student
advocates. The students then headed off for a series of consecutive
legislative visits with members of the NYS Legislature – some
taking place in their legislative offices and some discussions
being held around the capitol building. Personal meetings were
arranged with St. John’s alums: NY State Senator Joseph Addabbo, NY
State Senator Jack Martins, NY State Senator Diane Savino and NYS
Assembly Members Francisco Moya and Ed Ra.
In addition, the student delegation met with NYS Senator Toby
Stavisky and NYS Senator Tony Avella. The members of the NYS
Assembly visited by the students included Assembly Members Phil
Goldfeder, Rory Lancman and Mike Miller.
highlight of the busy day was when the St. John’s delegation made
its way on to the floor of the ornate State Assembly Chamber to
watch the legislative session begin.
Greg Mitchell, a second year student from North Merrick, NY
majoring in Government and Politics, participated in Advocacy Day
and observed: “It was a great experience to meet with our
local representatives and St. John's graduates in Albany. We could
clearly see how they are fighting to keep New York State a good
environment for college students who attend school now as well as
those who are graduating and starting their careers.”
Alexander Marion, a fourth year Government and Politics major
from Syracuse added: "Student advocacy day is an important
experience. It affords you the opportunity to not only see, but
participate in the legislative process in a way most never get the
chance to do so. It is something I looked forward to each of my
years at St. John's and hope many more students choose to
participate in the future."
Another memorable part of the day was when the students were
addressed by a very recent graduate of St. John’s, Nick Roloson
(‘11C), who now serves as the Chief-of-Staff to New York State
Assembly Member Michael Miller.
“Just a few years ago, Nick participated in Advocacy Day as an
undergraduate and now he is sharing his personal and professional
experiences with a new wave of student leaders,” Browne
Four million New Yorkers have received state financial aid over
the past four decades. Annually, more than 330,000 students in New
York depend on state student aid programs to help them finance and
achieve their college education.
At St. John’s University almost 5,000 students receive some form
of a TAP award and the University receives other forms of state
student financial aid.
Students interested in learning more about important issues
impacting higher education in New York may visit: nystudentaidalliance.org
Interested media that would like to speak with Brian Browne or
learn more about New York Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day can
contact Dominic Scianna, Assistant Vice President for Media
Relations, St. John’s University, by calling (718) 990-6185 or
e-mail inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.