By Dana Reese
SC News Editor
Students, faculty, politicians, and community members gathered on the steps of Stroud Hall on Tuesday March 20 to protest Governor Corbett’s proposed budget cuts.
The rally, organized by APSCUF, started out with the organization’s ESU president, Dr. Nancy VanArsdale, and the call for a system that put “students first.” The crowd cheered on throughout the rally, holding up yellow and orange neon signs: “Keep 1989 funding in the past,” and “Keep state universities back to the future.”
State representatives Mario Scavello, Rosemary Brown, and Mike Carroll addressed the audience, letting the growing crowd of ESU residents know their stances on the proposed budget cuts.
“The best investment we can make is an education,” Rep. Scavello said. “I can tell you this: This budget will not pass with these cuts.” The next two state representatives came to the Stroud stairs with similar messages.
“My support is not there for this budget,” said Rep. Brown. “Keep studying, and we’ll keep doing our job to make sure that we don’t support this budget.
“We have to win this fight. We have to find the money, and it’s a responsibility that we as legislators and that the Governor has—let’s go,” said Rep. Brown.
Students and faculty began to address the crowd, from varying departments and interests. Rich Hennessy, Student Senate President, showed up at the rally after a morning in Harrisburg.
“Little does the governor know, he called to action a group of warriors. That’s who we are,” Hennessy said. “So we need to let the governor know that we’re here for our university, and we’re here to take a stand.”
Dr. Benn took the microphone soon after and began by leading a chant of “no more cuts,” turning the crowds attention to the 29 shirts hanging on ropes just over their heads.
“Turn around and look at those shirts. Each one of those shirts represents a faculty person who was not hired this year because of budget cuts. Each of those shirts represents someone who could be a presence in the classroom, someone who can help you shape your future, someone who could give the knowledge, the wisdom and the modeling you need to go forward and lead in Pennsylvania—and in the nation.
“It happened last year; it’s happening this year—we let them get away with it, and it’s going to happen every year…Do you see the importance of not voting for anyone who supports these budget cuts?”
As well as faculty and state representatives, students stood up and reached out to the gathering crowd. Shannon Christmann, a senior from theatre department, spoke about her troubles in attending college and those of the students around her. “How much more do we have to lose before something changes?”
The theme of the rally became not only prevention, but change in the ways decisions are being made. A table was set up off of the sidewalk with postcards for students and community members to send to state representatives in opposition to Governor Corbett’s proposal. As well, there was a signup sheet for transportation to Harrisburg on Wednesday, March 28th to protest the cuts in Harrisburg. APSCUF was sponsoring the buses to the state capitol as well as the rally.
“The governor is not joking. He wasn’t joking last year, he’s not joking this year, and he won’t joke next year. The governor has no feelings for public higher education. We need to send him a message, and we’re sending him a message,” said Professor Hauth, from the athletic training department.
“When I was a student here, the state supported the education of the students here by over 60% of your education. Now with this budget cut, it is going to be under 20,” said Dr. Emert of the computer science department. “I think you guys are getting a raw deal.”