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Students protest proposed cuts to higher education

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ATLANTA --- State officials have their choice of two messages from student groups that converged on the Capitol on Monday to protest possible cuts to higher education.

Ashley Mixon (right) and Bethany Pate, both from Gordon College in Barnesville, Ga., hold homemade signs at a rally in downtown Atlanta to protest possible cuts to higher education. 
  David Tulis/Morris News Service
David Tulis/Morris News Service
Ashley Mixon (right) and Bethany Pate, both from Gordon College in Barnesville, Ga., hold homemade signs at a rally in downtown Atlanta to protest possible cuts to higher education.

One group, wearing business suits and speaking in soft tones, called for a modest rise in tuition and small cuts in spending to help address the state's budget shortfall.

"There's going to be cuts. We're in a declining economy. We recognize that," said nursing student Lindsay McLear, the president of the student body at the Medical College of Georgia. "We want to make sure that the cuts are proportionate."

One place to economize, the Athens native said, could be MCG's expansion, which has campuses in her hometown in addition to Albany and Savannah.

"Maybe putting off the program for a year would help save funds," she said.

The other group, calling themselves Georgia Students for Public Higher Education, included about 500 students clad in jeans and chanting into bullhorns and holding homemade signs with slogans such as "raise hell, not tuition." They opposed any tuition increases or cuts to academic programs, calling instead for an increase in income taxes for those earning more than $400,000.

"Raising taxes is better in some respects," said Stuy Lewis, a student at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah. "If we raise taxes, then everybody pays -- people who are going to school and people who are not going to school. The goal would be to get as many people a higher education as we possibly can."

The groups did agree in their opposition to cuts to academic programs, increases in student fees and their support of a $1-per-pack increase in cigarette taxes.

McLear and the other suit-wearing students, the heads of the student governments at about half the 35 public colleges in Georgia, met with House Speaker David Ralston and aides to Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Legislators were in recess Monday and Perdue was in Washington, so the students' only way of delivering their message was through the many reporters present and a petition organizers say had 30,000 signatures.

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msgret92 03/16/10 - 06:42 am
Taxpayers are responsible for

Taxpayers are responsible for K-12 education not college education. We need cuts in the education process and students/families to take some responsibility for their advancement. Sin/behavioral taxes are not the answer, soon we will run out of unaccepted behavior. What will be next, fast food? What will this do to the economy around college campuses?

corgimom 03/16/10 - 06:51 pm
How nice that college

How nice that college students think that taxpayers should subsidize their education. Wait till the shoe is on the other foot.

Bondga 03/18/10 - 11:02 am
Please don’t generalize

Please don’t generalize college students as if we all agree with this. I am a college student and I am appalled at what I hear daily. The cries for socialism amongst my peers are astounding. They yearn for “equality” and believe that everyone else should pay at their benefit. They may say that an increase in taxes will affect them, yet, most collage students, if employed, make very little. Thus, the tax income they generate is negligible compared to that of the working class. I do believe that a little Gov subsidization by taxation is acceptable, but only to a certain extent. How can one expect others to pay for the cost of their education when they are not the ones benefiting from such? Perhaps if the cost came directly from the students’ pocket they would be more inclined to make higher grades. The good for the minority cannot come at the cost of the majority, for this is morally incorrect.

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