Students ‘die’ to protest budget cuts

Published by adviser, Author: Erica Kurvach - Rocket Contributor, Date: May 4, 2012
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The Student Government Association (SGA) held a flash-mob to spread the word about the proposed budget cuts to higher education at 12:15 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. on May 1 in the quad.

In March, Governor Tom Corbett proposed a 20 percent cut to public higher education, including the 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities. Dr. Patrick Burkhart, the new president for the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) and a full professor in the geography, geology, and the environment department, spoke at the event.

“I’m trying to energize students to get involved in political activism to reduce the costs of higher education,” Burkhart said.

Burkhart wants students to stop threats that will lower the overall quality of the university. Some of the threats he mentioned are academic services, classes, and even food services.

“Write to the governors and representatives. We want no more cuts,” Burkhart said. “Study like your future depends upon it.”

At 12:15 p.m., students “dropped dead” and stayed “dead” until 12:30 p.m. Other students and faculty members held up poster signs and chanted along.

Michael McCarter, a junior history secondary education major, and SGA senator for North Hall, protested against Corbett’s budget cuts.

“There is less pie to go around,” McCarter said. “We’re trying to protect the school and end the cause.”

Mason Calhoun, a junior exercise science major,  also protested.

“I’m excited about this flash mob,” Calhoun said. “I think a lot more people should be involved. Unfortunately, students are negligent.”

Calhoun believes that students think they can’t make a difference or they are too busy with schoolwork.

“With something big like this event, they should be out here,” Calhoun said. “I don’t think they know how much this can affect students and graduate students.”

Brittney McClure, a freshman exercise science major, went to the rally in March and came to the protest on Tuesday.

”It’s an important event,” McClure said. “So why not make a statement? If I could talk to Corbett, I would ask him, ‘Why did he cut education?’”

SGA and APSCUF had informational pamphlets and postcards addressed to the governor to give to students and faculty.

“Stop the rock slide,” McCarter said. “Voice your concerns. Vote that you don’t want a decrease in funding. Arts and music are the first to go. Extra-curricular activities are to go too.”

APSCUF is part of the “Back to the Future” campaign to keep the 1989 funding in the past and bring state universities “back into the future.”  The idea is to get rid of 1989 funding where “there is no future for accessible, affordable, quality public higher education in Pennsylvania.”

Burkhart became the president of the APSCUF on May 1. The former president was Jace Condravy, who worked for nine years as APSCUF president.

“Public education offers a lot to so many people,” Burkhart said. “It is far more accessible than private institutions. It’s worth fighting for.”

Burkhart has been a professor for 20 years and 15 years at SRU.

“If I were to talk to Corbett, I would say, ‘Please stop cutting public funding to the university,’” Burkhart said.

Burkhart is the faculty advisor for the Geography, Geology, and the Environment club, Phi Sigma Sigma, and the Sea Kayaking club.

“My wife says that I need to slow down, and I am,” Burkhart said.

SGA promoted about the protest through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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