Clarion, Pa.- On a cold, rainy Monday morning in Clarion, students from Clarion University, along with those from the other 13 state schools, ventured towards the state capitol to lead an organized rally for more state funding for higher education.
Pennsylvania has been without a state budget for nearly eight months, leaving students struggling to receive the financial aid they need and professors dismayed in their search for long-term contracts. The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) organized the “United We Stand, Underfunded We Fail” budget rally that brought nearly 300 protestors to Harrisburg on Monday, Feb. 8.
Some students and faculty members have felt the need to address the issue that is affecting colleges across the state. With the help of government officials, politically active students opted to protest, rally and congregate with a group of people who could empathize and share their passion. The #fundorfail movement on social media and its energy is also being generated from the enthusiasm of PASSHE school students.
Ready to combat the long-term effects of the absence of a state budget, these students chose to represent their peers, as well as their own, interests in Clarion University, which has felt the effects of the budget impasse for months that has resulted in a lack in funding to delays on state grants for students’ financial aid packages.
In Harrisburg, students from many different universities across Pennsylvania took the opportunity to speak their mind and question their state government and its progress on the issue of funding for higher education.
Before the speeches and pennants filled the capitol building, the group of students met with Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R – 21, Oil City) to discuss their goals and what they would like to see happen in terms of funding for students. Later in the day, Clarion students joined other fellow students, faculty and politicians to voice their opinions and show their concerns on the capitol steps and inside the building.
Communication major Stephanie Kulikowski described her experience as one that “was amazing and rewarding.
Hopefully, Gov. Wolf and more took note of our presence, and we get a higher budget to help fund our state schools,” said Kulikowski.
“We as a state-owned university rely on state funding to keep tuition and fees low,” said senior communication major and Student Senate President Jarrett Boxley, who attended the rally. “Of course, by having adequate state funding, that would equal lower costs at a Pennsylvania state university like Clarion, and that would of course equal less student debt.”
Fellow student activist Brana Hill, who also majors in communication, spoke to the crowd at Harrisburg last Monday as she took the podium and urged her peers not to stay silent on issues that were important to them.
“It was amazing to be among all the students working towards a cause that supports all of us and has a huge effect on the past, present and future of the PASSHE school districts,” said Hill.
APSCUF thanked the students and professors who attended the rally and advocated for PASSHE school funding and a compromise to the state budget situation that has become the longest state budget impasse in Pennsylvania history by a large margin.