With Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear’s proposed 15 percent cut to the Commonwealth’s public education budget, universities around the state are scrambling to campaign against the reduction.
This includes Northern Kentucky University, where the Student Government Association announced at its Feb. 4 meeting plans for two rallies, one at NKU and one in Frankfort, to convince legislators not to decrease school funding.
“We can make a difference,” SGA President Alyse Bender said. “If we take that 15 percent down to 13 percent, that’s still a win.”
She said that the first of the two rallies, tentatively scheduled for Feb. 18 in the University Center at noon, is simply an attempt to get students pumped up for the main rally in Frankfort two days later.
There, students from Kentucky’s seven public colleges will gather to lobby their legislators to oppose Beshear’s education cuts. The universities’ presidents will also visit, including NKU president James Votruba.
Bender said that she’s hoping for 100 people at the main rally.
“I’d hate for President Votruba to get down there and have nobody there from NKU,” Bender said at the meeting.
Students who go with SGA will also receive free food, something that Sen. Beth Bleha said might attract some students to the trip.
The rallies come a week after launching iCare, where SGA members attempted to educate students on NKU’s needs. Bender said iCare, in which 53 people participated Feb. 4, also encouraged students, faculty and staff to call their legislators in Frankfort, urging them against the funding cuts.
Sarah Enzweiler, a senior education major, sent an e-mail to her representatives in Frankfort during the iCare program. She said her major motivated her to protest the budget cuts.
“Teaching is something I hold dear to my heart,” she said, noting that she doesn’t want to see Frankfort defund education.
Seth Thompson, a theatrical arts freshman, said that his financial situation motivated him to call his senator.
“I live and die by my (Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship) money,” he said. Though the military is paying for his education, the KEES money pays for his books. He added that many, however, might have to drop out without the money.
Sen. Mike Tobergta said that such reasons are typical of those participating.
“They understand the severity of the issue,” he said, adding that yesterday students filled up the Highland Heights’ representatives’ mailboxes.