Students rally for higher education funding

Published 9:36 am Friday, March 2, 2012

Despite the threat of rain early in the early hours of the morning, students of colleges all across Alabama came together on Thursday at the steps of the state Legislature in Montgomery, uniting under the cause of more funding for higher learning.

An annual event, Higher Education Day gives students a chance to show the members of Alabama’s state legislature their opinions on the need for more focus on higher education and play an active role in representing their various schools.

Students arrived by bus wearing the colors of Troy University, Alabama, Auburn, UAB, Montevallo and many others, waving signs with slogans about the importance of funding education and chanting fight songs as they marched down the street.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I thought it was great,” Laura Fletcher, junior human services major at Troy University said. “It seemed like a larger crowd than we had last year and I hope that it keeps growing. It’s important for the legislators to know we do more in school than just hang out and focusing on higher education can help us in the future. The more funding we have the more progress the state of Alabama can make.”

After the march, students crowded around the stage to welcome Director of Higher Education Gordon Stone, who explained the effort to return Alabama’s education fund to a balanced 1/3-2/3 split between the grade and collegiate programs, a balance that has shifted over the years and limited the amount of money for colleges.

Stone also took time to remind students of the importance of their involvement in state affairs.

“We’ve been working a long time so that students realize they need to talk to their legislators,” he said. “We had a great turnout to day and the parade was unbelievable, it was like it would never end. Students are the future leaders and they are learning that higher education is important.”

The rally included short speeches on the importance of funding education from a variety of Alabama officials, including Gov. Robert Bentley, Lt.  Gov. Kay Ivey and several state senators.

“This was a great opportunity for students to voice their opinions to legislators,” Brandon Stoudenmier, a junior Biology major from Troy University, said. “It really makes a lasting impression on them to see so many of us out here and it helps make things better for everyone in the state. The turnout was tremendous it really showed how much students support their schools and believe in their education.”