ASC students rally against budget cut

(04-09-2009)

About 100 Adams State students and staff members gathered on campus today to express outrage toward a recent proposal by the Colorado Joint Budget Committee to cut the state higher education budget by $300 million - about half.

"We need students like you to be in college, and we need it to be affordable," event coordinator Robin Pryor told the crowd. She is vice president for external affairs of the Adams State student government.

Adams students voice their anger at a proposed $300 million cut to Colorado public higher education.

Adams students voice their anger at a proposed $300 million cut to Colorado public higher education.

"We need to let lawmakers in Denver know that we at ASC are not going to just sit on the sidelines and do nothing. We are upset. They need to know how this affects every one of us." She urged students to contact their state legislators and tell them, "We're not happy."

Adams State President David Svaldi shared the latest news from Denver: that Senate President Peter Groff had directed the group to restore the higher education budget and find other areas to cut.

"We hope the $300 million is going to be restored to higher education." Svaldi said the college has already cut $571,000 from the current fiscal year budget, and had been prepared to cut about $1.5 million from fiscal year 2009-10.

He explained the proposed cut would equate to $8 million for Adams State - over 60 percent of the college's general fund income. State general funding primarily supports academic programs and faculty salaries.

"A lot of students are alarmed," said freshman theatre major Sierra Sterling, from Crestone. "A lot are on financial aid and are first generation students. We know it's really important to graduate college. Having that possibility threatened is scary."

Deidra Pourer, a freshman who lives at home in Alamosa, said she currently pays for college through financial aid and grants. "I don't know if I'd be able to come back next year if these cuts caused a big tuition increase."

Svaldi told the group, "We're going to do our very best to keep the cost of education affordable for you here." He said returning undergraduate Colorado resident students could expect a tuition increase next year between 7 and 9 percent - not in the double digits, as speculated in the press.

"The best way for you to help ensure that this doesn't continue to happen every time there's an economic downturn is to demand that Colorado join the 21st century and have a 21st century plan for education," he said.

Pryor told her fellow students: "This is a very special campus. I'll bet every one of you can walk across campus and meet five friends. There is amazing outreach from our teachers and administrators. They support us every step of the way."

Kaitlyn Perham, a freshman theatre major from Greeley who carried a protest sign at the rally, concurred: "Adams State is amazing. It's one of the best schools ever. Our professors know our names, the classes are small. We would lose a lot of great professors and have large classes if these cuts went through."

By Julie Waechter