A resolution to support higher education in light of a new round of budget cuts this year was composed by Associated Student Government President Jonathan Krueger, senior political science major, and passed by ASG Senate last week in their first meeting of the semester. Krueger said it is just the beginning of a “campaign for higher education.”
“I think the theme of the resolution was intended to be whatever it takes, no more cuts,” Krueger said. “Higher education has sustained more than its fair share of cuts over the last 20 years and we cannot go any further.”
It was reported in the resolution, higher education in Kansas has faced a 20 percent decrease from $7,779 per full-time student in 1988 to $6,256 per full-time student in 2008.
As stated in the resolution, “ASG believes that a healthy local business community thrives on a healthy university community and vice versa, that students and local businesses are interdependent, and that Emporia State University students economically support the Emporia area businesses and contribute to their financial success.”
The resolution was proposed to the Emporia Chamber of Commerce on Monday where Krueger hopes it will be passed in mid February after its distribution to their member businesses.
“The chamber already has a statement on higher education,” Krueger said. “However, it’s a pretty broad statement, basically the resolution itself is asking for something more direct.”
By gaining support of businesses, Krueger hopes to make the possibility of more cuts from higher education less likely.
“The entire house of representatives will be up for reelection again and we need them to know that the business community supports higher education in order to get their vote as well,” Krueger said.
As part of the movement in support of higher education, businesses that adopt the resolution will likely hang some sort of sign at their location, issued by ASG. However with only a limited amount of time before the Kansas Congress passes more bills with budget cuts, ASG plans to get as many people involved as possible to present a stronger message to legislators.
“What we’re also doing is encouraging all ESU organizations to consider some sort of action,” Krueger said. “It will be our job to seek out their assistance and use whatever resources they have.”
In addition, ASG plans to man stations around campus where students can write personalized postcards to legislators.
“It’s often said that if a legislator receives five contacts from within their district, that’s enough to sway them,” Krueger said. “And if those are five personalized contacts especially from the business community and students that’s going to be a huge impact in the situation.”
With support of businesses and all regent schools, Krueger hopes that this “campaign” will make a difference in the decisions of legislators. He said this issue is not just at present, but one that the state will face for years to come.
“This is something that I’m really passionate about because education just isn’t about us, it’s not about the people who are here today, it’s about everybody for tomorrow,” Krueger said. “We are really building our future; we are trying to become leaders of tomorrow for things we don’t even know are going to happen, for jobs we don’t know will exist, for technology that hasn’t be created yet. We are supposed to be those people, but how can we do that if we keep losing jobs, if we keep increasing our class sizes, if we keep making public education inaccessible to the students in our state?”
ASG Legislative Director Caroline Ewing, sophomore English major, said that message will be delivered by representatives of the six regent schools and Washburn to the legislature at Higher Education Day on Feb. 16.
“This year our message at higher education day is going to be kind of exactly what’s on the resolution,” Ewing said. “That we can’t afford to take any more cuts from higher education.”
Krueger hopes that by spreading the message, more support for higher education will influence legislators decisions.
“We’re not asking for all the funding that we’ve lost over the past twenty years to be back,” Krueger said. “We’re just asking that there are no more cuts, and these businesses can certainly help us achieve that goal because it’s a ripple effect. If one person talks to two people who talk to four more, suddenly you have a whole group of people who are all advocating for the same viewpoint.”