Students fight for more funding at the capitol


Students from Northern Kentucky University, University of Louisville, University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University, among others, gathered at the capitol building in Frankfort, Ky. to fight for more state funding at the Rally for Higher Education Feb. 7. Approximately 100 NKU students attended the rally, where university SGA presidents spoke about why more funding is important for their education. NKU SGA stressed the importance of calling legislators directly.

It was brisk and seasonable the morning of Feb. 7, and around 100 Northern Kentucky University students took this time to gather outside the Student Union building. Each waited patiently to sign up, grab a box lunch and pile into the waiting buses for the forthcoming 90-mile journey that would take them to the State Capitol Building in Frankfort, Ky.
They traveled to meet and collaborate with college students from around the state in a collective effort to proclaim in one unified voice that the legislators of Kentucky, their legislators, should invest in the state’s educational future, instead of reducing funding year after year.
The Student Government Association of NKU, along with the SGAs of several other colleges such as the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University, promoted the event as the “Rally for Higher Education.”
As NKU students arrived at the capitol building, they were met by Boone/Kenton County Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington, who, with her fist proudly raised high, encouraged student protesters to “go in there and give ‘em hell!”
The main atrium of the capitol building filled with a sea of red, blue, yellow, green and maroon, each student wearing a T-shirt analogous to their respective school colors.
The number of rally participants was so great that some were asked to move upstairs and observe from the balconies overhead, as security was fearful that the combined weight could prove to be too much for the atrium floor and create a collapse. The turnout for the rally was so large that the structural integrity of the area was called into question.
The president of each SGA chapter took turns speaking to the group. Some focused on how the budget cuts were affecting their institutions, others focused on the future aspects of better education in Kentucky, but overall the theme was clear. Students have a voice and a desire to be heard, and only through contacting their legislators on a consistent basis will that voice ever be noticed.
“Twelve budget cuts in 12 years is not something we should be willing to accept,” said the University of Louisville’s SGA President Kurtis Frizzell. “It is not something that we should write off as a by-product of poor economic times.”
Frizzell went on to explain that the University of Louisville has been called upon to present itself as one of Kentucky’s, and therefore the nation’s, premier research institutes. This is a high demand, considering UofL’s budget has seen many reductions in the past couple of years.
“We need to recognize that our legislators are doing a great deal,” Frizzell said. “But they should be reminded, in a big way, how important education is, not only to the commonwealth, but to our nation as well.”
“We live in times where we can no longer speak about taxes without it being perceived as an attack on one’s citizenship,” Kentucky Rep. Kelly Flood said. “And this is what’s gotten us into the mess we’re in. We can’t even recognize we need to take care of educating everybody.”
NKU SGA President Dustin Robinson emphasized contacting your respective legislators, even going so far as to demonstrate to the crowd how quick and easy it was to do so. Dustin pulled out his cell phone, dialed the hotline at 1-800-372-3181, and asked the receptionist to relay his concerns to his representative, completing the call in just under two minutes.
“I am extremely pleased with the turnout … everyone was really energetic and we had a lot of people show up,” Robinson said. “Overall I think it was a really successful, incredible experience.”
NKU President James C. Votruba greeted the returning students with a congratulations and a short speech, concluding that if it were up to him every student who took the time to be involved with the welfare of their university should receive all A’s. This was an offer made in jest, but one that many students admitted they wish was true.
The battle for state funding is a constant one, and many considerations will be addressed before any progress can be attained. But many see education, especially higher education, as the source for the commonwealth’s growth and success.
“Last year Kentucky was ranked 34th in the national education rankings, and this year we are 14th,” said Eastern Kentucky University SGA President Rachel Mollozzi. “Now is not the time to move backwards. We have to keep moving forwards.”