Students rally for tuition freeze
Article By Nathan Pisano
Photo by David Hallett
Students across the state are fed up with rising tuition costs.
On February 12, students from colleges and universities all over Oregon gathered at the steps of the Oregon State Capitol to rally for increased funding for schools, and to prevent tuition costs from rising above current rates.
“We have to take a stand. To take measures to increase funding for our institutions,” Mario Parker-Milligan, the Legislative Director of the Oregon Student Association, said.
“We are rallying as a tactic,” Parker-Milligan said. “To let the Oregon Legislature understand that students are aware, engaged, and paying attention.
“We will not take any more tuition increases.”
In order to freeze tuition for the next two years, funding of $755 million for universities and $560 million for community colleges would be required.
Before the rally, the Oregon Legislature was prepared to offer $100 million less to universities, and approximately $60 million less to community colleges than the amount needed to maintain current tuition rates.
Students will find out the legislature’s decision when this year’s legislative session is over.
“The event was sponsored and led by the Oregon Student Association,” Amber Hastings, an organizer with the Oregon Student Association, said.
Nearly 500 students from around the state gathered at the Oregon State Capitol for the event.
The event included a number of guest speakers, including Taylor Marrow, a history instructor at Chemeketa.
There were periodic chants from the crowd along the lines of: “Ain’t no power like the power of a student cause the power of a student don’t stop” and “No taxes, no fees; education should be free”.
The University of Oregon’s band played at the rally alongside their mascot.
“It got pretty loud. I was inside and I could hear (the students),” Kira Martin, a member of the Chemeketa student government, said.
Martin, along with other members of Chemeketa’s student government, spent much of the day inside the capitol building leading small groups meeting with legislators, trying to convince them to increase funding for higher education.
Among them were Chemeketa student government members Kira Martin, Dustin Treece, Patrick Withers, Xochitl Guiterrez, and Kevin Angulo.
In total, members of the Chemeketa contingent met with more than twenty legislators, including Paul Evans.
Evans, a Communications instructor at Chemeketa. Who is currently on leave after recently being elected to the Oregon House of Representatives.
“He was happy to see students from Chemeketa there,” Dustin Treece said.
“We were lobbying for ten hours,” Treece said. “It went well.
“We had many supporters; however, according to the legislators, allocating the appropriate funding is difficult.”
Members of Chemeketa’s executive team remain optimistic.
“We’re actually hopeful that the Legislature is going to give us enough money so that we don’t have to raise tuition,” Andrew Bone, the college’s executive dean, said.
“That’s our hope, and that’s what we’re working on with the Legislature.”
For more information, or if you would like to get involved, contact Dustin Treece at email@example.com.