Student leaders push for funding

The newly created PASS met before the break to discuss state-related school funding.

On Dec. 18 and 19 – a weekend when most students were shuffling back home for winter break – representatives from Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities’ student governments sat in the Hillel at Temple discussing student issues and one woe that won’t go away: money.

Under the umbrella of the newly created Pennsylvania Association of State-Related Students, student governments from Temple, the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University and Lincoln University will work as one voice for the needs of state-related universities to lawmakers.

“This is to prove that when we work together, this is the weight we can pull,” said Temple Student Government President Natalie Ramos-Castillo, who hosted the State-Related Universities Summit along with Senate President Colin Saltry, Vice President of External Affairs Damon Williams and Vice President of Services Alex Shelow.

Though the current fight revolves around ensuring the money flow from the commonwealth doesn’t decrease greatly in the upcoming state budget, several student government representatives emphasized PASS will live beyond funding issues.

“We’re stronger together than we are apart,” Ramos-Castillo added.

In the coming year, Temple, the Pitt, Penn State and Lincoln University all stand to lose money from the commonwealth as the state enters another fiscally difficult year. With Gov.-elect Tom Corbett vowing to balance the budget without raising taxes, cuts will be made all around.

One goal of PASS will be to coordinate a rally day in on Feb. 15 before the budget address to bus students from all four state-related universities to talk to state representatives about the importance of their education.

Ramos-Castillo said she will encourage students to “tell your story,” by letting lawmakers know deep cuts from the commonwealth’s investment in higher education could hinder tomorrow’s nurses, teachers and other professionals if tuition rates get too high.

For the current fiscal year, state-appropriated dollars make up 16.6 percent of Temple’s total operating budget, and for students like Saltry, who said he chose Temple because of its affordability, an increase in tuition won’t be feasible for students or their parents.

Members of the state-related student governments also expressed interest in letting parents know they have a voice to be heard too, especially if tuition costs are attached to their purse strings.

While Public Affairs Communications Manager Andrew McGinley noted Temple would pay to transport Temple students to the rally, student participation is still a work in progress. Members of PASS discussed advertising schemes as a way to get the word out, but Saltry said it all comes down to caring.

“If you have pride in Temple, and you’re not willing to take out extra loans, you should care,” he said. “There’s something that’s vital about a great education without a lot of money.”

Ashley Nguyen can be reached at ashley.nguyen@temple.edu.

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