UK SGA, other student governments advocate for higher ed in Frankfort

Jansen Hammock, a UK political science freshman, gives a speech at the Rally for Higher Education in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort, Ky., on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. 

Rick Childress

FRANKFORT, Ky.— Hundreds of student government officials from state-funded universities from across the state gathered in the State Capitol Building on Tuesday to make a case for the continued funding of higher education. 

“We all come from different universities but we are all moving towards the same goal,” said Jansen Hammock, a UK political science freshman, before a crowd of folding chairs and college students in the Capitol Rotunda. “That (goal) is to make a better state, a better commonwealth for Kentucky and a better nation.”

The Rally for Higher Education is an annual gathering of student government officials from across Kentucky where college students can speak directly with state legislators about the challenges and issues currently being faced by the state’s college students. 

Michael Hamilton, the UK Student Government Association president, told the Kernel after the rally that UK’s SGA officers would be meeting with Lexington-area senators and representatives to share student success stories and make a case for continued state funding of higher education.    

“Money is a huge factor in making college accesible to students,” Hamilton said. “Days like today let us share our stories with legislators and different members here in Frankfort to put a face to the name and face to the cause.”

Last year, state legislators approved a government operating budget that cut about $16 million from UK’s overall budget. UK ended up only losing half that amount of state funding as performance funding boosts added back between $8 and $10 million.

UK will not have to worry about losing more funding until 2020 as the Kentucky constitution stipulates that the government passes a new budget every two years. 

The rally began with several student speakers, from almost every state-funded university, taking to a podium in the rotunda. Each student talked of the difference that access to higher education has made in their lives.

Hammock, who hails from London, Ky., was UK’s speaker. He encouraged the students in attendance to not waste the opportunity to make a strong case before legislators. He told those in attendance that they are advocating for Kentucky college students.

“As I look at all of you here today, I’m reminded that we are the future,” Hammock said. “The future of this nation, we’re the future of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In order to build that future we make sure that we are making the investment, that we as a people, as a generation of Kentuckians are willing to step forward and make that difference and make that change.”

Hamilton said that he hopes Tuesday’s rally and subsequent meeting with lawmakers will help the legislature remember the college student in their constituencies. 

“When it comes time to vote on a bill,” Hamilton said, “they can think back on a story that we shared with them about how UK has made an impact on a student’s life and has helped them better themselves, better their families and better their communities.”