More than 200 Metro State students joined a few hundred more Colorado college students to take their message of concern about funding cuts in higher education to lawmakers at the Colorado State Capitol on March 3.
“We’re here today to let our legislators know that higher education is the future of this state,” said Andrew Bateman, Metro State’s Student Government Assembly president, to loud cheers from students. “We need a sustainable solution to education so that we don’t have to come back here every year.”
Students from Colorado State University, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Community College of Denver and the University of Colorado Denver joined Bateman and took turns at the podium on the Capitol steps and told of the hardships cuts in education had caused them and many of their friends. View footage of the rally.
Organizers said other schools represented at the rally included Adams State College, Pikes Peak Community College, Front Range Community College, University of Colorado at Boulder and Fort Lewis College.
Students are up at arms about cuts to higher education amid state budget shortfalls.
Colorado State Representative and an affiliate political science faculty member at Metro State, Karen Middleton, said she was glad to see students coming to the Capitol to show legislators how they feel about the cuts.
“We need to figure out a way to support higher education,” Middleton said. “It’s good for the state, good for our students, good for the economy and good for our future.”
When Middleton took the podium to address the students she said, “I got the message that you guys are a little pissed off today, am I right?” Loud roars followed.
“I’ve taught at Colorado schools and I’ve talked to a lot of students who say what the heck is this political science stuff and why do we need it,” Middleton said. “Well, you’re living it, my friend. So I say to get off the couch, show up and tell people what you think. We need you every single day to work together to make this happen. If we don’t stand up for higher education funding today we’re essentially doing our future a disservice.”
Bateman agreed and told the students that their efforts “cannot end today. I want you to commit one time a week to come to this building until November, write your representatives and tell them your stories and your friends’ stories and that they need to invest in higher education today.”
Roy and Randall Stillwell, brothers from Broomfield and both Metro State students, said they attended the rally because they had heard about the budget cuts and wanted to show their support for funding.
“It’s a big problem,” Roy said. “College costs a lot of money now and our parents don’t have a lot of money. Our parents didn’t go to college so we’re the first generation to go to college and we think education needs to stay affordable.”
After the rally, Bateman said Metro State had a lot at stake in the budget crunch. “We’re supposed to be the college of affordability, the college of opportunity for the state of Colorado. But if things continue to go the way they’re going, we might not continue to be the affordable school and I hope that never happens.”
Bateman admitted it “would be tough” to protect higher education funding for the rest of the 2010 legislative session but he said he’s hopeful a solution will come and that “students need to fight for it when it happens.”
He did say he’s was “thrilled” and “couldn’t be happier” with the turnout and the rally.
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