Proposed cuts spark campus protests
WEST CHESTER, Pa. - March 22, 2011 (WPVI) -- Students and faculty at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned colleges and universities demonstrated Tuesday against proposed cuts to Pennsylvania's higher education system.
At West Chester University, some demonstrators also filled out postcards to send to state lawmakers.
"The budget for education is already so small that to cut it seems completely unnecessary, completely wrong," said West Chester senior Frank Schierloh.
Governor Tom Corbett's proposed budget slashes funding to the 14 state-owned universities, including West Chester and Cheney University, by at least 50 percent.
In a statement, the governor's office said "this is a strong start to putting a new emphasis on student-oriented education while giving long-overdue relief for over-burdened taxpayers."
The union which organized Tuesday's rallies, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), says its members have agreed to a one-year wage freeze to help the budgetary cause.
"We know these are hard times, and we know that sacrifice has to be made, and we are willing to make that sacrifice because we believe in the state system," said union president Clifford Johnston.
"West Chester is an affordable university and we want to keep it that way," said West Chester professor Tammy Jones.
The union says if the legislature doesn't restore funding close to current levels there will be hefty tuition increases as well as cuts in programs. Some students tell Action News they have already experienced that.
"My major was already cut. I am one of the last people in my major. I'm double-majoring in Latin and German," said freshman Hannah Peters.
But not everyone on the West Chester campus is opposed to the governor's budget.
"I'm very concerned about the tuition increases. But I'm also concerned about the economic status of our state right now," said junior Matt Hissey.
Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University are all state-related schools. They also face 50-percent funding cuts. But their faculties are not members of APSCUF and did not take part in Tuesday's rally in West Chester.
pennsylvania, education, economy, college, west chester, chester county, gov. tom corbett, local/state, cathy gandolfo
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