SUNY Potsdam students, community react to college’s restructuring

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 4:20 PM EDT
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - Reaction to the SUNY Potsdam restructuring announcement was swift among students and the surrounding community.

“I saw there was a big cut in a lot of programs. Not ecstatic about it, you know? I like the diversity we have,” said SUNY Potsdam sophomore Zane Stevens.

SUNY Potsdam junior Seren Deleon doesn’t want to leave the campus but plans to look at other colleges. She’s worried more cuts could come, although the college didn’t allude to that.

“Abandoning a place you spend so much time at and caring about because of things you can’t control no matter how much you try to help and how much faith you have, it’s just awful,” she said.

Meanwhile, other students we spoke with who are not affected by the cuts believe this new strategy will allow SUNY Potsdam to concentrate on its strengths, and bring more kids to campus.

Off-campus, the message quickly made its way around the community.

“As a village board and administration, we stand with our SUNY Potsdam. It’s the oldest SUNY school in the system and we’re proud to have it in our village. We will make sure Albany knows how important SUNY Potsdam is to our municipality and region,” said Potsdam Village Administrator Greg Thompson.

At Jernabi Coffeehouse - a worker is keeping an optimistic attitude.

“I think that it’s a heartbreaking change to be happening, but so much good has come from the school and so much good does still live within the school, that it’ll find its way regardless of what happens to it and where it goes,” said Keri Wehmeyer, a barista.

State Senator Dan Stec says he’s distressed by the Potsdam cuts and questions how New York state is spending its money.

“My thoughts are with the community and all those impacted by it. But I’m particularly frustrated by the fact that state government is refusing to take action to ensure SUNY Potsdam can succeed in its mission statement,” he said in a prepared statement. “Our state government is currently spending at a rate that’s higher than Florida and Texas combined, and 50 percent more per capita than California. That level of spending is unsustainable and instead of spending on the items that matter most to New Yorkers’ quality of life, shocking sums of money are going to the wrong programs.

He continued: “Rather than provide schools like SUNY Potsdam with the full financial resources it needs, the governor and Democrat leaders have instead dumped $1 billion in managing New York City’s self-created migrant crisis, a crisis which Mayor Eric Adams is now looking to foist off on the North Country Because of issues like this, our colleges and communities are forced to make do with less. Frankly, the SUNY Potsdam community deserves better.”