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March down Broad Street calls attention to Pa. education funding

In line with National Day of Action for Education, student activists marched to the governor’s local office today. In a multi-school effort for state higher education funding, student groups marched south on Broad Street today, March 1, to Gov. Tom Corbett’s office. Participating groups included Occupy Temple, Temple Community Against Mountaintop Removal and Temple Democratic… Read more »

In line with National Day of Action for Education, student activists marched to the governor’s local office today.

In a multi-school effort for state higher education funding, student groups marched south on Broad Street today, March 1, to Gov. Tom Corbett’s office. Participating groups included Occupy Temple, Temple Community Against Mountaintop Removal and Temple Democratic Socialists.

CHRIS MONTGOMERY TTN | Evan Hoskins, president of Temple Democratic Socialists, speaks to the crowd of students at the Bell Tower.

Area students, as part of a March 1 coalition, protested in favor of improved state funding for universities, student debt forgiveness and in solidarity with the National Day of Action for Education.

“This is student power. This is solidarity. This is the revolution,” Brianne Murphy, a leader of TCAMR and Occupy Temple member, said to the crowd.

Students rallied at the Bell Tower, where participating student groups spoke out against Corbett’s proposed 30 percent cut to Temple’s state appropriations for fiscal year 2013.

The protest was also meant as an act of solidarity with similar student protests around the country.

“In this day and age, our government has a responsibility to provide us with an education,” said Evan Hoskins, president of the Temple Democratic Socialists. “Corbett shirked his responsibility to the university.”

Steph Irwin, a junior film and media arts major, spoke about her personal encounter with Corbett in 2009, during when, according to Irwin, the governor told her “good luck in school.”

“How…am I supposed to do well in school if I can’t afford it?” Irwin asked the crowd.

Last year, Corbett initially proposed a nearly 50 percent reduction in appropriations to the four state-related universities. The cut was eventually negotiated to roughly 19 percent for Temple.

If passed, the proposed 30 percent reduction would equate to a near 50 percent cut during two years.

The proposed slash came just after an additional 5 percent of the university’s current funding was cut, due to a shortfall in commonwealth revenues.

CHRIS MONTGOMERY TTN | Brianne Murphy chants with Temple students as they begin their march down Broad Street towards Gov. Corbett's office.

At about 1:50 p.m., the crowd paraded through campus via 12th and Norris streets, Liacouras and Polett walks, making its way to Broad Street, whereupon students began their march to Corbett’s office at 200 S. Broad St.

“Education is a right, not just for the rich and white,” students shouted down Broad Street.

Cardboard signs made from boxes read “Fund Education,” and “Abolish Tuition,” among other slogans.

Philadelphia Police Department officers followed the crowd in a squad car, until it reached Spring Garden Street, where the crowd diverted through the Community College of Philadelphia campus.

Beth Cozzolino, a senior sociology and political science major, was optimistic of the crowd’s energy on the walk.

“I know big crowds,” Cozzolino said. Cozzolino said she participated in a march across the Brooklyn Bridge with Occupy Wall Street in New York City last year, which resulted in numerous arrests of demonstrators. She was also involved with Occupy Philly.

“It doesn’t affect me as much, but I care about Temple, you know, as a public institution and I don’t want to see it turned into a private institution,” she said.

The Temple crowd emerged onto Market Street, where it circled City Hall, moving around road traffic.

Just before 3 p.m., Temple students joined groups from University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University, Swarthmore College, Haverford College and Drexel University waiting in the street in front of Corbett’s office.

Philadelphia Police Department’s civil affairs unit blocked southbound Broad Street traffic between Walnut and Locust streets.

Capt. William Fisher, commanding officer of the civil affairs unit, said no formal permit was filed for the protest to gather in the street, but that police learned of it through intelligence.

Fisher said police did not intend to impose a time limit on the protest.

Cetin Gurer, a first-year doctorate student at Villanova, said he decided to participate in the march because tuition hikes affect all universities and colleges in Pennsylvania, public and private.

By 3:20 p.m., students marched north on Broad Street, with police in front, to the offices of the School District of Philadelphia.

Brandon Rey Ramirez, TSG deputy chief of staff and a junior political science major, said he was surprised at the number of people present for the march.

Amelia Brust can be reached at abrust@temple.edu.

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