Show Support for Higher Ed
students are mobilizing in various ways to promote increased state
support for higher education. They are also rallying against legislative
proposals that would impact aid programs at all Michigan universities
and target two schools – NMU and Wayne State – for significant cuts
ASNMU president Rebecca Thompson spoke in advance of a June 21 rally
in Lansing organized by the K-16 Coalition for Michigan 's Future
(pictured). She was serving in her new capacity as president of
the Association of Michigan Universities, the student government
organization representing about 300,000 students attending the state's
was a surreal experience," Thompson said, reflecting on the
experience. "The huge turnout shows that people are serious
about the necessity for adequate funding and that we will make our
voices heard. I encourage others to do the same by writing their
legislators and the governor."
crowd of more than 11,000 – reportedly double what organizers anticipated
– marched to the Capitol to deliver the loud and clear message that
the state must put "education first" and back that position
by investing appropriately.
have witnessed first-hand the struggles that our universities have
been confronted with since entering college just over four years
ago," said Thompson, in her speech to rally participants. "During
this time, nearly $300 million less is being spent to educate
a growing number of students at our universities. This
equates to nearly $1,100 less being spent on each student.
"What this really means is fewer programs, fewer course offerings,
increased class sizes, and reduced services for students, among
other negative implications. The most recently proposed higher education
budget continues a very troubling trend as the state continues to
disinvest in higher education. … Our ability to grow out of this
economic downturn and prosper in the future depends on an educated
and viable workforce."
NMU student, Jenna Briggs of Bay City, has cultivated a grassroots
effort called U.P. Students United. The group's motivation extends
beyond proposed cuts to NMU. It is trying to project a unified voice
against reduced funding for financial aid programs that impact all
colleges and universities – particularly those like NMU that
enroll many need-based students. The programs in potential jeopardy
are work study, the part-time independent student program and Michigan
Educational Opportunity Grants.
best way to get our message out is to have a physical presence in
Lansing," Briggs wrote on the Web site for U.P. Students United.
"That's why (we) are organizing a bus trip to Lansing for sometime
in late August or early September. We will take a charter bus there,
protest at the capitol, and get a chance to speak with some representatives."