Attending rally can make a difference in higher ed funding

Last February, over 150 students — including 35 from UK — attended the annual Rally for Higher Education in the Capitol building, the Kernel reported at the time.

The number of UK students may seem small, but it was a big jump from 2006’s rally, when just five UK students showed up.

Now, with a rocky state budget threatening higher education funding more than in recent memory, the annual rally protesting rising tuition carries more importance. This means more students than ever before need to join Student Government representatives at the rally.

If students want to see a change in high tuition raises, they’re going to have to believe that they themselves can effect that change and travel to the Capitol tomorrow to make their voices heard.

Tomorrow’s rally is a prime opportunity for students to make a personal step in defending their rights and priorities. Of course, tomorrow is not the only chance students have to protest cuts in higher education funding. Keeping up such efforts by writing and calling local legislators is always an important measure to take on and something that must be done if students’ concerns are going to be taken seriously.

Politicians have hinted at the potential power a collective student voice can provide.

“Seeing all of you here today representing your schools and your student bodies shows me that you don’t like that your tuition has increased 145 percent in the last 10 years.” This was said by former Gov. Ernie Fletcher at 2007’s rally. Fletcher did not propose fully funding UK’s top-20 plan in his budgetary address in 2006, but the General Assembly increased the university’s funding anyway, softening the tuition increase somewhat.

Because Gov. Steve Beshear is calling for colleges to make budget cuts this year does not mean it is set in stone. There is still a lot of time from now to when the legislative session ends in April. Like before, funding can be increased for state universities, and the tuition increases might not be so drastic.

And like before, students have much invested in this debate and must make their voices heard if they want anyone to listen.

Students looking for a way to attend the rally can travel with SG. Some representatives will travel to the rally on a bus that will leave the Student Center at 12:30 p.m. and stay in Frankfort until about 3:30 p.m. SG President Nick Phelps said excuses will be available for students who would have to miss class and need to verify that they are going to the rally. Students can sign up for a ride in the SG office in room 120 of the Student Center, or e-mail SG at

[email protected].