Students should speak out against budget cuts

TBy Andy Pomroy

the University is not a school for those who couldn’t make it into a private college or some below-average school that is a drain on state resources. University students attend the premiere university in the region and one of the top three public research universities in the nation. Our graduates expand Minnesota’s economy and, by leveraging research dollars from around the globe, we bring more money into the state. We improve the quality of life in Minnesota by educating its people, adding cultural experiences and providing a forum for the exchange of knowledge and ideas. However, in the same week we officially welcome our new president, we also fear losing 15 percent of our state funding.

The state budget deficit facing Minnesota is set to wreak havoc on Minnesota’s quality of life and higher education. The University is a top target in Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s budget proposal released last week. Pawlenty proposed cutting our state budget by $185 million, or 15 percent of its current amount.

This would be the largest state cut ever to the University, and it comes off of two years in a row where, because of a lack of state support, the University raised tuition by double-digit percentages. In a time when all other Minnesotans were receiving tax cuts, we students received tax increases through the tuition tax. Students, one of the poorest populations in the state, have been hit with a direct $1,500 increase in cost of living, not to mention the out-of-control housing market students face.

The University has been fulfilling its side of the bargain with the state; it provides us with state support and we provide the state with a public benefit. The University has increased enrollment, graduated more people in more fields, taken steps to improve graduation rates, dealt with numerous controversies appropriately and worked to improve the state’s economic base.

Now is not the time for the state to cut the University’s budget. The University is needed now more than ever to help bring Minnesota out of this economic decline. When people lose their jobs they are more likely to want to expand their educations, but if they cannot afford it they will be forced to remain on government subsidies, further hindering our economic recovery. Minnesota has always remained above the national average in quality of life partly because of our strong commitment to accessible higher education.

To fight back against these proposed cuts, students from all four University campuses are going to the Capitol on March 6 to meet with legislators and testify to House and Senate committees on students’ needs and the benefits of investing in the University. If you want to be a part of this event, please RSVP to the Minnesota Student Association at [email protected] or (612) 625-9992.

If you don’t contact your legislators about this budget cut, it will be a reality and we will face another double-digit tuition increase.

Andy Pomroy is a University junior studying political science. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]