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Students take to the Capitol for higher-ed protests

By Laura Bonawits, Contributing Writer

Hundreds of residents crowded outside the Capitol Monday morning, prepared with signs and chants to prove to Gov. Corbett that his proposed 50 percent funding cuts to the 14 state-owned and four state-affiliated universities won’t go down without a fight.

Around 500-600 students, faculty and alumni braced the cold to show their outrage. Students attending the schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education could face a $2,200 tuition hike in the next year, The Patriot-News reported.

“If this budget goes through, there’s no way I will be able to afford school,” said Daran Carlin-Weber, Sayre, a sophomore at Edinboro University. “I’ll go home and work at KFC.

Photo: Paul Chaplin, The Patriot-News
The cut to education is the most substantial proposed by any other governor this year, The Pottstown Mercury reported. Sharp tuition increases and harsh job loss may result in turn of the cuts, state system official said.

State funding makes up one-third of the operating budget at the state schools, according to State System Chancellor John Cavanaugh, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.  Clarion University President Karen Whitney noted that fraction alone could cost 176 full-time positions or doing away with the business college.

Students shared their piece of mind with Corbett through their rally signs, with messages like “Fine, I’ll Just Be A Stripper” and “Raise Corporate Taxes, Not Class Sizes,” The Mercury story reported.

Kevin Harley, Corbett’s spokesman, told the Post-Gazette that the governor is aiming to salvage the economy and future job market. “What he’s trying to do is create an economic environment where they don’t have to move to another state to have jobs,” he said.

Though some students on their final months of college won’t be affected by the potential tuition climbs, they expressed concern for future students, The Patriot-News highlighted. “My education, it’s turned me into who I am,” said Peter Roquemore, Camp Hill, a senior who fears his younger siblings won’t have the opportunity to share the same experience. “The opportunities I’ve had are phenomenal.”

After meeting with commissioners Monday morning, Gov. Corbett reiterated that a cut to education is not something he wants to do, but simply does not have the money to supply. “I dislike telling people we have to cut,” he said. “We have to cut. They are hard cuts … but we have to start.”

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