Hundreds of students call for lower tuition, debt forgiveness
Philly Inquirer— They carried banners, beat drums and shouted slogans. They snaked down Broad Street yesterday, from their dorms and dining halls to the Hyatt at the Bellevue, where Gov. Corbett keeps his local office.
They were students from Temple University, Penn, Drexel and other schools, and they’re mad as hell and aren’t taking Corbett’s budget cuts anymore. Hundreds participated, part of Occupy Education’s National Day of Action rebellion against rising college tuition.
“People everywhere need to realize that the quality of and access to education is diminishing,” said Ethan Jury, a Temple senior and a coordinator of Philly’s branch of the protest. “These budget cuts aren’t just student concerns. They’re part of a larger interest.”
Jury and his fellow protesters rallied against Corbett’s proposed budget, which would cut about $250 million (or 25 percent) in funding from state-related schools like Temple and Penn State.
For Temple, that amounts to a $43 million decrease in its state subsidy. University officials told the Temple News that the cuts would boost tuition by about $1,170 for both in-state and out-of-state students
“Education is not a product but a requirement for a free and decent life,” said Sean Monahan, a Temple graduate student who addressed the school’s pre-march rally. “A school is a civic institution that should be free and open to all.”
Monahan’s ideal system of higher education is one that bases admission standards more on merit than on money.
“I don’t want a system where an average student like George W. Bush can fly through Yale because of his daddy,” he said, “while kids from North and West Philly can’t even dream of school because of the circumstances of their birth.”
Monahan joined Jury, as well as other students, faculty and staff members from Temple, on the trek to Corbett’s office, where they linked up with their counterparts from the other schools, and called for transparent financial practices, a forgiveness of all student debt and other demands. Along the way, the group had picked up various supporters, some well beyond their college years, some still in high school.
The group then headed back north to the School District of Philadelphia’s office near Broad and Spring Garden streets.
There, the protesters rallied against the district’s recent decision to turn four struggling schools over to charter organizations.