OVER 500 PARTICIPATE IN RALLIES STATEWIDE: Over 500 faculty, staff and students turned out for the “Higher Education Funding” rallies at Castleton, Johnson, Lyndon and Vermont Tech on October 20th! At least 500 signed petitions in support of “Better Funding for the State Colleges and we had great media coverage.
KEEP UP THE MOMENTUM: Linda Olson, President of the VSC Faculty Federation has stressed the point that this was only a first step in the fight for better higher education funding. Although the state legislature is in recess, it will resume in January. “By grabbing their attention now,” Linda says, tuition and funding will at least “be put on the forefront come the first of the year.” VSC Faculty Federation and VSC United Professionals members will be working with student leaders to make this happen!
Keep up the momentum by joining the United Professions Committee On Political Education (COPE) program!
Joining is easy, go to http://vt.aft.org
Media Coverage of the Events:
http://campus.lyndonstate.edu/news7/archives/archive.html (choose Newscast from Thursday 10/20)
Quotes from the Rallies
Linda Olson, VSCFF President, said “We’ve been losing state support since 1980 and its students who are paying the price, both literally and figuratively.” We want our legislators to know this is an important issue to Vermonters. “By grabbing their attention now, tuition costs will be on the forefront come the first of the year. Linda encouraged students at the rally to speak with local representatives and senators, plead their cases, share their stories, and take a more personal approach.
Ashley Bride, mother and student working two jobs. “I have come across many parents who have put their dreams on hold because of the financial burden of college,” said Bride. “It saddens me to know that there will be more after me.”
Victoria Phillips, student, expressed her distress over sending her loan payments out of state now because VSAC could not help her.
Roy Fedders, student, talked about the burdens of balancing dreams with financial reality. “I would like to be financially secure.” However, the financial security I dream of “may take years to attain even after graduation. When I leave here, I will be $60,000 in debt.”
JSC SGA President James Dempsey noted that, “An investment in the Colleges is really an investment in our future.” “Our legislators need to understand that funding levels are unacceptable.” “One way to turn this around is to start a movement to get legislators to pay attention.” “Nothing will be done until we stand together!”
JSC Student Liz Beatty-Owens said, “I have followed all the rules, but will be carrying more than $20,000 in student debt when I graduate. This is while working two part-time jobs and while attending College. “Getting a College degree is a social good, not a privilege.” Liz praised the College community, our VSCUP and VSCFF members as well as students “for coming to together because we have power in numbers.”
Tyron Shaw, VSCFF member at Johnson said it is “not appropriate” that “Vermont stands lowest in the country.” Vermont public higher education relies “more than any other state on the amount of tuition to pay for higher education expenses.” “Contact your legislator to them this is NOT okay.” “Huge kudos to the union and to Elizabeth, James, and Ira for cooking this up; you guys ROCKED!”
Harper Gay, aid to Senator Bernie Sanders, told the Johnson crowd that Bernie has fought against cuts, noting the importance of Pell grants for students and TRIO support for students. Harper noted that student debt loads for average student graduates exceeds $24,000. Bernie will be visiting with faculty and students on the Johnson campus this next Wednesday, October 24!
Angela Ryan, VSCUP member in the Academic Support Center, said she used to spend more time assisting student concerns about adjusting to college life. “My job has shifted greatly during recent years; It has been more of where are we going to find the money for school.” Many choose to go someplace else out-of-state or to just stop because students see that it’s just not financially feasible for them to go on.”
Timothy Sturm, VSCFF chapter chair, referred to the fact that the state’s contribution to the State Colleges operating budget has fallen from some 46 percent to less than 19 percent over 30 years. “It’s been a slow erosion, but the potential is calamitous for our Colleges and our students.”
Jennifer Adams, student, said “I planned to attend graduate school, but that may no longer be financially possible.” “College is expensive for me, but I also have two children I have to save for their college education while I save for mine.” “There are people who can’t even graduate because they can’t afford it!”
Nick Russo, student. “Out of 719 students who filled out an exit interview survey, 250 of them indicated that financial concerns were among their primary reasons for leaving Lyndon State College.” Why isn’t the legislature providing more help?
Senator Joe Benning (R – Caledonia & LSC graduate), said “Through the years the legislature has not considered this a top priority, that’s only going to change if we get more people to the legislature that want to make it a top priority….. It is not in Vermont’s best interests to be last on that list.”
Although Vermont Tech did not have rally speakers and instead held discussions with students about the need for better funding for the Colleges, Vermont Tech got a significant portion of the signed petitions. Student leaders were especially awesome in working with our members to get signed petitions supporting better funding for the Colleges.