TSU rallies to combat

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 27, 2001

higher education cuts


Staff Writer

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One Troy State University student sarcastically offered "thanks" to Gov. Don Siegelman ­ "our education governor" for the financial woes that may be experienced by institutions of higher learning.

On Monday morning, students, faculty, staff and university supporters crowded into the Adams Center to rally for higher education. So many actually attended that there were not enough chairs to accommodate the crowd that streamed in just before 9 a.m.

Many of those at the rally were wearing "I Love TSU Arts" pins to show their support of the programs that will be cut if TSU is forced to deal with a 18 percent proration. If severe cuts do become necessary, Troy State University leaders have said they will have to cancel all dramatic and musical theater productions and discontinue all choral groups, in addition to many other cuts and raising tuition by 40 percent.

Ironically, Troy State was celebrating its birthday and past accomplishments while worrying about the future.

On the 114th Founder’s Day, Jim Vickrey, co-chairman of the TSU chapter of the Higher Education Partnership, talked about how "large" the problem of proration really is.

"Higher education is sick and tired of being treated as the whipping boy and we’re not going to take it any more," Vickrey said.

Troy State’s Student Government Association president Heather Hines thanked everyone for coming because "the fact you are here proves you care."

But, caring does not stop on campus, she said, adding everyone present needs to spread the word about what is pending.

"We have to stop this," Hines said of significant cuts to TSU’s budget.

Although she admitted K-12 is important, she said higher education can not "bear the burden" created by state leaders.

"Today is a wakeup call for proration on this campus," said Dave Barron, director of University Relations.

"This is not a time to be passive. You the students need to be involved."

Signs being carried by students stated things like "Proration is NOT the Answer," "State Property Tax, Not Tuition" and "Higher Ed is Your Future" indicated they know what is at stake.

He also encouraged students, faculty, staff, parents and supporters of the institution to contact state leaders and let them know of their concerns.

"I thought proration was a hit and run accident," Barron said. "What we’re talking about is a train wreck and there’s a gas truck stalled on the tracks."

Chancellor Jack Hawkins called proration "an indictment on all of us" and said everyone has to fight to maintain innocence.

During a recent trip to Montgomery, Hawkins heard a representative say he had not heard from any constituents regarding the matter of proration and those being hit have to make their voices heard.

"We have to communicate with the elected people we put in office," Hawkins told the crowd.

Hawkins said he does not want to see K-12 adversely affected by proration; rather everyone should "share the burden" without one shoulders more than the other.

"This window of opportunity is fleeting," Hawkins said, adding "Bad things happen with good people do nothing."

Students leaving the rally were searching for copies of the list of phone numbers handed out because of their desire to do their part.

Others were talking about heading to Montgomery today ­ the deadline set by Montgomery Circuit Judge Tracey McCooey for the Alabama Legislature to find a solution. In response to a lawsuit filed by the Alabama Association of School Boards, McCooey said the state can not prorate funds to K-12 because it is an essential function of state government.