SGA to fight budget cuts

“Don’t balance the budget on our backs!” is the rallying cry that students from public universities across the Commonwealth will be taking to Frankfort Feb. 20. The students will gather in the rotunda for “Listen Up, Legislators,” where they will voice their opposition to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s proposed budget cuts that administration say would result in higher tuition and fees in Kentucky’s public universities.

Northern Kentucky University students participate as the next step of the SGA “iCare” campaign, an effort organized by SGA to curtail the $8.2 million cut to the university’s state allocation. Not only will NKU students participate in the protest, but they may also meet with legislators from the Northern Kentucky region in person Feb. 18.

“We are (headed to) Frankfort to convey the message that we have needs and not wants,” SGA President Alyse Bender said. “We are looking for (the legislators) to hear the voices and concerns of NKU students.”

She also said organizers hope to make a visual impact on the Legislature.

University President James Votruba said he remains optimistic that efforts to lessen these budget cuts will be fruitful.

“We are still relatively early in the legislative process. I am getting assurances from both House and Senate leaders that the budget picture will improve over the next several weeks,” Votruba said. “I hope this is the case because NKU has come too far to go backwards and there is too much at stake for both our students and our region.”

Nevertheless, he maintains that tuition increases are inevitable.

While all NKU students are invited to partake, Bender said a select few will be going ahead of the rally to speak with lawmakers from Northern Kentucky.

Bender said that she plans to present four reasons to legislators to oppose cutting NKU’s budget.

She cites the increase in applications for admission and interest. Since 2005, NKU has received 44 percent more applications, according to Melissa Gorbandt, director of admissions outreach.

Bender also said budget cuts would suspend NKU’s expansion and limit the number of full-time faculty members.

She gave the negative impact the cuts will have on Vision 2015, a strategic plan to improve living conditions in Northern Kentucky, as a third reason.

She also said the negative impact would spread to the surrounding community’s businesses.

“NKU has recently developed a business plan that illustrates through investing in the university … the university will invest in the community,” she said.

University President James Votruba said he remains optimistic about the cuts.

“We are still relatively early in the legislative process. I am getting assurances from both House and senate leader that the budget picture will improve over the next several weeks,” Votruba said.

Katie Stine, R-Campbell and Pendleton counties, indicated she hopes the students visiting the legislature will learn through the firsthand experience.

“(The visit) will hopefully dispel some mystery about the process bills must go through before becoming law and how many groups have had input in the legislation,” Stine said.

While students from all of Kentucky’s public universities will also work apart as they focus on their particular institutions. Bender said she expects the question of why NKU deserves funding over other public colleges in Kentucky. The Commonwealth funds eight four-year universities, as well as the 16 community colleges in the Kentucky Community ‘ Technical College System.

“The only thing we can hope for is that they see the value of NKU,” Bender said.

In addition, Bender said, “The Northern Kentucky legislators have worked diligently to make sure our cuts are minimal, but cuts are inevitable. The most reasonable things we can ask for at this time are the least amount of cuts possible.”

Bender went on to share the motivation for continuing the effort.

“You never receive anything in life without an effort,” she said.

While SGA is battling to keep the budget cuts minimal at the legislature, Bender said that the governing body has no role in seeking funding from other sources.

“It is not SGA’s job to fund the University. Our job is to represent the students,” she explained.

Bender said she hopes to have 50 students attend the rally. The University is providing transportation, lunch, and a t-shirt to any student willing to attend. Students can also receive an excuse from class from the Dean of Students.

Fro students not able to attend but who want to express any concerns about the budge cuts, Bender advises that the students contact their legisltors by calling 1-800-372-7181 or look up e-mail information at