Take Action: Pledge your support for the Justice for Students Agenda.

 Justice for Students Agenda

College students are at the forefront of political advocacy in New York State. From Buffalo to Brooklyn, students canvass, hold protests, register voters, and fight for the causes that impact their future. Students’ voices must be heard because the decisions elected leaders make today affect their tomorrow.

That’s why it’s time to make issues affecting students a top priority in Albany. They should not be denied opportunities due to unaffordable and inaccessible college degrees, the mental health crisis, and a lack of equal protection under the law.

Students are struggling, but College Democrats of New York’s Justice for Students Agenda can change that.

College Affordability and Accessibility

A college degree must be affordable and accessible to all New Yorkers regardless of their socio-economic status. The State’s flagship initiatives like the Accelerated Studies in Associate Programs (ASAP), the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the Excelsior Scholarship have a proven track record of alleviating the burdens of student debt and increasing graduation rates. Improving these programs will grant even more students access to an affordable college degree at New York’s public colleges and universities.

To make college more affordable and accessible for New Yorkers, New York State must:

  • Reform TAP to extend tuition assistance to more New Yorkers

    • Raise the cap for TAP awards to $6,000

    • Increase the minimum TAP award from $500 to $750

    • Elevate the program’s income cap from $80,000 to $95,000

    • Close the TAP gap

  • Expand ASAP funding so more CUNY students can participate in the program

  • Reduce the minimum course load requirement for the Excelsior Scholarship program so more low-income students qualify for tuition-free public college

Mental Health

One in five college students is diagnosed with a mental health disorder; it’s a crisis. Due to underfunded and understaffed counseling centers on college campuses, students are often unable to receive the care they need. On many campuses, it takes well over a week to schedule a counseling appointment; on many more campuses, students are limited to a certain number of meetings with counselors.

To improve mental health services on college campuses, New York State must:

  • Provide adequate funding so counseling centers can meet the needs of students

    • Prioritize funding for mental health services at community colleges, SUNYs and CUNYs

  • Create a funding source so colleges can hire more mental health counselors

  • Incentivize mental health professionals to work on campuses to tackle understaffing

Polling Places on Every Campus

While New York State spends tens of millions of dollars to improve the State’s democracy, college students must be enfranchised in the process. Off-campus polling places can be inaccessible to college students. Misinformation, inadequate transportation and confusion surrounding voter registration makes it difficult for students to exercise their right to vote in their campus communities.

To ensure polling places are accessible to college students, New York State must:

  • Put a polling place on every college campus

    • Prioritize campuses in rural communities where polling places are less accessible

  • Pass a resolution that protects the right of students to vote in their campus communities

Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

New York State needs to pass a constitutional amendment that guarantees equal rights under the law regardless of gender identity, sex, or disability. Without an ERA, the State cannot constitutionally guarantee equal pay for equal work, the LGBTQ+ community and individuals with disabilities will continue to face discrimination, and survivors of sexual violence will be less likely to receive the justice they deserve. Passing an ERA is the first step in changing that 

To equally protect millions of New Yorkers under the law, New York State must:

  • Pass the ERA to protect women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and individuals with disabilities

    • Be the first state in the country to enshrine equal protection into the law for disabled and LGBTQ+ individuals