HAMMOND- On Nov. 10th, students across the state will join together at the state capitol for the Rally for Higher Education in hopes of getting their voices heard by state representatives.
Students have felt the aftermath of the continuing budget cuts. Colleges around the state have responded by increasing fees, canceling classes, cutting student programs and laying off professors.
With elections looming around the corner, voters will help determine whether Republicans or Democrats will run the House and the Senate. The party in power in each house runs the committees, the most powerful organizations in Congress. Committee members control which bills come to a vote. The bills that committees approve can directly affect students and higher education.
“Jindal is only allowed to cut education and healthcare, and it is better for the state for the education to lack than it is for massive healthcare cuts and people to get sick and die,” said Southeastern student Andrew Sylvest. “The only way to fix that mess is to repeal the Stelley Plan and change the laws where budget can be cut across the board instead of just healthcare and education.”
The Stelly Plan temporarily reinstates higher income tax to boost education funding.
Due to slow graduation rates across the state, one issue surrounding the upcoming elections for higher education is the talk of closing eight of the current 14 public universities: Nicholls State University, McNeese State University, Southern University at New Orleans, LSU at Alexandria, LSU at Shreveport, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Grambling State University and Northwestern State University. With these smaller universities closed, other larger universities could change into two-year trade schools.
Jayda R. Elbert, student at Southeastern, does not understand why Governor Bobby Jindal insists on cutting budgets for higher education but still raises tuition.
“Jindal constantly complains that we have terrible graduation rates but he does not implement any system to help our youth in education or any other way for that matter,” said Elbert. “He needs to help Louisiana to find a way to make our money stretch instead of taking it from programs that are needed.”
One Southeastern professor, who does not want to be identified, said he thinks that it is great that students and faculty are seeing directly how this is affecting their lives by going to rally at the capitol.
“Universities are going to have to do more with less,” he said. “BP tried to short cut to save and look what happened. Are we willing to do that with our people?”
Sylvest doesn’t believe it will affect education regardless of who controls the House.
“They are all so worried about the economy and trying to get elected and re-elected that education has been forgotten until unemployment numbers get better and people are happier about the economy,” he said.
Southeastern student, Christopher McKinley will be attending the rally in Baton Rouge.
“Higher education should have always been a top priority especially in our state and with the current statistics it should be the last place we choose to cut. Let’s get it together Louisiana,” said McKinley.