Students e-mail budget concerns to reps

Students concerned over the recent state budget cuts and their potential impact on college tuition have an opportunity to tell their legislators during an e-mail campaign by Student Government.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, Monday and Tuesday, laptops will be set up in the Classroom Building for students to send an e-mail to Kentucky legislators. The campaign started yesterday, and SG Director of Constituency Services Tyler Fleck said there has been a great turnout.

“More than 200 people have already signed up,” Fleck said. “We hope to get 1,000 students and I think that is a feasible goal.”

Fleck said he expects a high number of students to participate because the budget cuts could affect UK students with tuition hikes, the reduction of Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship money and a loss of programs at UK.

The e-mail is sent out so it appears as a personal message to legislators, Fleck said, not just as a mass e-mail from students. This will hopefully show legislators how many students are concerned, he said.

“It’s important that legislators hear students’ concerns so they realize this is real,” Fleck said. “It’s showing that we know what’s going on and we care.”

The campaign has pre-written letters, and students are asked to type in their name, county, address and telephone number to send it. Fleck said it is set up to be time-efficient for students.

“It’s not a burden at all,” he said. “It literally takes 10 seconds. Students can walk up, type in the information and be on their way to class.”

Members of the Panhellenic Council helped staff the campaign site yesterday and encouraged students to sign up. Panhellenic President Julie Meador, an integrated strategic communications junior, said Panhellenic was looking for a way to express their concern about the budget cuts. When she contacted SG for some ideas, she said she knew she wanted to help with the campaign.

“We wanted to get involved because we care about our university, and we want students to have as many opportunities as possible,” Meador said. “We need to make sure we can succeed as a university.”

Over 100 people signed up in two hours, Meador said. Some students voiced concerns not only about their own tuition, but also the financial problems for future UK students.

“One student told me she worried about her sister losing her KEES money,” Meador said. “She wanted to sign up so hopefully that wouldn’t happen.”

The letters are respectful and there are different versions, Fleck said, but they all contain the same points.

“They all say ‘I depend on my education and I care about what happens to it,’ ” Fleck said. “The main theme is ‘don’t give up on me.’ We’re asking legislators to not just push us to the curb.”

SG also encourages students to write their own letters or call their legislators if they do not make it by the Classroom Building.