By: Michael Blackson
“Marcellus Shale can pay for my education!” “Keep Millersville affordable for ALL students.” “Equal ‘pain’ shared by ALL!” These and other messages were floating around the lobby of the SMC as the campus rallied together against Governor Corbett’s proposed budget cuts.
There were no pitchforks, blazing torches, or an angry mob that was anti-Corbett; in fact, faculty, professors, and students alike educated each other on how Governor Corbett’s budget plan will impact us, shared their voices about the impact, and how our voices can be heard.
“Write to your legislature,” said Sarah Darling, the President of Student Senate. “Right now, they really need to hear the students’ voice. They are waiting to hear our reactions, our concerns and that needs to come from you.” And they will listen.
Many of the state’s lobbyists, congressmen, officials, and any other positions “are all Millersville graduates and they had the opportunity to do that because of an affordable education,” said Dr. Greenawalt, associate professor of government and political affairs. Although Millersville was not the final piece for most of the graduates to get where they are now, “an affordable education opened those doors for them.”
It’s ironic, though, as Dr. Greenawalt voted for Governor Corbett. But Greenawalt said Corbett was left with “a great mess from previous administrations and he has excellent policy ideas.” Governor Corbett and his administration were given bad advice with the idea of a 50% reduction to state higher education.
Dr. Greenawalt continued by saying if the state government cripples higher education, you cannot create wealth, retrain and educate our citizens, and we cannot look forward to a better future. “None of it is possible.” But our voice heard together can change it all.
Many of the legislatures in Pennsylvania and even members of Governor Corbett’s party do not want to pass the proposed budget plan. They are waiting to hear from their constituents, as no one is eagerly waiting for the plan to pass.
Yet everyone seems eager enough to “talk, talk, talk, and not do anything,” said Laura, a social work major. She emphasized that classroom sizes will increase and the faculty to student ratio will decrease while the campus deals with an increase in tuition and a hard impact on departments, all as results of the proposed budget plan.
She also emphasized leadership, especially in professors to lead the way and educate their students on the proposed budget cuts.
“Use your organizations, social sites, like Facebook and Twitter,” she said further. “Our voice should be heard together.”
Dr. Cheryl Desmond, professor of educational foundations, knows a thing or two about being heard together. She said that the PASSHE system was built on what is named the People’s Colleges of Pennsylvania, because it “provided an affordable education for people across the state of Pennsylvania.” It is so a type of leadership is created: being part of the process to go and change the world, Pennsylvania, and one’s community.
She also applauds all the students because “I know how many of you have jobs outside of your daily work here at Millersville. I think you’re all wonderful,” she continued. “I know I speak for everybody from the President to the people who work in Gordinier’s cafeteria.”
The attendance had to reach in the hundreds and the students felt inspired by the array of speakers during the rally.
Jake Manning, a sophomore social studies secondary education major, said, “I was glad to go to the rally because other than hearing people around me talk about it, I was not that well informed on Governor Corbett’s proposal. It was also awesome to see students take interest in this because it does directly affect us.” Jake also mentioned he was glad there were no “radical protest or debate or a bash-Corbett fest,” but maintained to be peaceful to hear the student voice.
Patty Kline, a senior elementary education major, said she was not aware of the whole situation. But “after attending the rally, I’m really shocked that the budget is proposed to be cut by 53%.” Patty is heading into her fifth year and the toll on her can be greater. More years means more money and more loans, which could ultimately mean more money to pay off after college. “As for the way it’s affecting Millersville directly, if they cut classes from being offered, that will hold people back from graduating on time.”