Stay­ing home


While UB is a mag­net for down­state stu­dents, Stony Brook Univer­sity barely reg­is­ters with West­ern New York­ers. In 2016, just 57 stu­dents from Erie County were en­rolled at the cam­pus on the North Shore of Long Is­land. The other SUNY cen­ters, Bing­ham­ton Univer­sity and the Univer­sity at Al­bany, also at­tracted few West­ern New York stu­dents.

The num­ber of stu­dents from Erie and Ni­a­gara coun­ties who at­tend four-year SUNY schools statewide de­clined by nearly 18 per­cent be­tween 2006 and 2016. But the de­cline doesn’t mean it’s be­come more dif­fi­cult for lo­cal res­i­dents to get into UB, said Melvin. Ad­mis­sion rates for lo­cal stu­dents re­main com­pa­ra­ble to those for stu­dents from out­side of West­ern New York, he said. And The News anal­y­sis shows that the per­cent­age of all SUNY-go­ing stu­dents from Erie and Ni­a­gara coun­ties who at­tend UB has stayed con­stant at 46 per­cent.

The univer­sity has im­proved its pres­ence in the Buf­falo Public Schools in re­cent years, as well, Melvin said.

“We’re lis­ten­ing to the com­mu­nity that says, ‘We want more of our stu­dents at UB,’” he said. “When I ar­rived (in 2013), we were not vis­it­ing all of the Buf­falo public schools. Now we are.”

The re­sult: 90 Buf­falo dis­trict high school grad­u­ates are en­rolled at UB this fall, a 54 per­cent in­crease over three years ago, Melvin said.

Good for the class­room

But the big­gest hotspot for new UB stu­dents over the past decade has been Queens, roughly 400 miles from Buf­falo. In 2006, 569 un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents from the New York City bor­ough at­tended UB. The num­ber more than dou­bled to 1,267 stu­dents in 2016. Fre­do­nia and Buf­falo State from 2006 to 2016 both saw nearly a tripling of the num­ber of Queens stu­dents on cam­pus.

Queens res­i­dent Jenny Ababio chose UB be­cause she wants to be a phar­ma­cist and, back home, none of the City of New York Univer­sity col­leges has a phar­macy school. She trans­ferred into UB as a ju­nior, af­ter spend­ing two years at CUNY York Col­lege.

“I like it. It’s nice and quiet over here,” she said.

The de­mo­graphic shifts at UB have oc­curred largely un­no­ticed by cur­rent stu­dents.

But Gun­nar Haberl, a ju­nior from Elma who com­mutes to UB and is part of the univer­sity’s Stu­dent As­so­ci­a­tion, said the trend can ben­e­fit stu­dents from West­ern New York, who get ex­posed to dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives.

Haberl has seen it play out in some of his po­lit­i­cal sci­ence cour­ses, in dis­cus­sions about the up­state-down­state po­lit­i­cal di­vide. While West­ern New York­ers of­ten feel that down­state in­ter­ests out­weigh the pri­or­i­ties of up­state, “we have stu­dents in those dis­cus­sions that can tell you first­hand they didn’t see the money com­ing into their com­mu­ni­ties,” Haberl said. “It’s a pos­i­tive dy­namic in the class­room.”

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