Students protest U’s budget cuts

A petition will be given to state and University officials.

University of Minnesota students gathered outside of Williamson Hall on Wednesday, the first day tuition was due, to protest budget cuts and tuition hikes that will likely be a result of the stateâÄôs budget deficit. The protest was organized by the UniversityâÄôs Socialist Alternative group. About 25 people showed up for the protest, which lasted 45 minutes. Protesters had signs that said âÄúEducation is a RightâÄù and âÄúBail out Universities, not Wall Street.âÄù Group member and University student Kevin Curran said the protest was intended to build a broader student coalition to fight the budget cuts. The protesters had a petition for people to sign that they intend to give to the state Legislature, the Board of Regents and University President Bob Bruininks . The group also plans to attend Support the U Day on Feb. 25, with hopes of raising awareness. Curran said they want to âÄúreally rile people upâÄù on what he said is usually a passive event where people are in good spirits. âÄúWe want to show people that we need to make a statement, and we need to stand up to get our voices heard otherwise the Legislature will have no reason to help us out,âÄù Curran said. Bruininks stated at FridayâÄôs Board of Regents meeting that tuition will only be increased after cost reductions have been maximized. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he wants all state colleges to establish a tuition cap. This would likely result in more University programs being cut in order to meet the stateâÄôs budget. If PawlentyâÄôs budget recommendation is adopted, it would mark the first time in University history that revenue from tuition would exceed the amount of state support. Curran said it is the studentsâÄô job to show Pawlenty that they should be a priority in the state. âÄúIn a time when jobs are hard enough to come by with a college education, you canâÄôt be alienating individuals from higher education,âÄù he said. âÄúTo support our economy we need people who are ready to go into the work force and get jobs.âÄù Graduate student Pat Baehler is part of the group Emaciated Gopher , which is trying to make the University a better place for graduate students. Baehler said the University shouldnâÄôt have to bear the brunt of the budget cuts. She said she was shocked by the decision to close the Graduate School without any notice. âÄúItâÄôs OK to cut taxes on businesses, but itâÄôs not OK to give any more money to the people that are going to be running those businesses in a few years?âÄù she asked. Sophomore biology and nursing student Debo Teriba said he saw the protest when he was walking and decided to take part in it. Teriba said he is against raising tuition because he has a 1-year-old daughter that he has to provide for in addition to paying for school. Teriba said raising tuition could dissuade people from applying to school who cannot afford to pay for it. âÄúKids in low-income communities, who are very smart and they want to try to apply to the âÄòU,âÄô and they realize that they donâÄôt have enough money to pay for it, and they canâÄôt get loans for it,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs not fair.âÄù