Threats to state funding prompt rally

Temple Student Government is organizing a rally in Harrisburg on Feb. 15.

WALBERT YOUNG TTN TSG members speak at last week’s State of the Campus Address concerning state funding.

While the university risks facing a cut in its commonwealth appropriations, Temple Student Government is fighting back by hosting the Rally for Higher Education with the Pennsylvania Association of State-Related Students.

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, students from Temple and other state-related schools will be bussed to Harrisburg.

“As Pennsylvania faces daunting financial difficulties, we are asking the entire Temple community to make their voices heard in Harrisburg about the importance of higher education and Temple University,” said Andrew McGinley, the public affairs communication manager in an e-mail.

“Students can play an integral role in securing Temple’s annual appropriation from the commonwealth by using their voices to share the university’s importance to their elected officials,” he added.

A series of students will speak on the steps of the Capitol Rotunda about how state funding has personally affected their college experience.

TSG members said the university currently receives $172 million from the state and could lose 10-to-30 percent of its funding, translating to approximately $17.2-to-$51.6 million.

Although it is hard to tell which departments and programs would be affected from budget cuts, students would directly take a hit, student-body President Natalie Ramos-Castillo said in an e-mail.

Cuts to services at the university and a potential tuition increase could hurt current students, Ramos-Castillo said. She added prospective students may look elsewhere for a more affordable education and the degrees of alumni may lose value.

“Lastly, the community will be affected,” Ramos-Castillo said, “because the economic impact the university has on North Philadelphia may decrease as funding does.”

Senate President Colin Saltry said he is worried Temple’s affordability, educational services and atmosphere could all be affected by a cut in state funding.

Although he said he understands programs need to be cut somewhere, Saltry said higher education cannot take all the financial hits.

“You can’t make a better investment than you can with higher education,” Saltry said. “If we want to outcompete China and we want to build and innovate, we need college graduates.”

Saltry said for the rally to be successful, there needs to be “strength in numbers” and that college kids need to fight back and support the university as well as the other state-related schools.

Ramos-Castillo said she hopes the rally will show state legislatures how important state funding is to individual students by bringing out students of assorted majors, years and backgrounds.

“It is not only the quantity of students that come,” Ramos-Castillo said, “but the energy and the pride that they bring to Harrisburg [that] will show the legislatures the quality of students that Temple attracts and educates.”

Both Saltry and Ramos-Castillo urged students to participate in the Temple Advocates Legislative Outreach Network’s letter-writing campaign to support higher education and the university.

Saltry said a potential budget cut in 2009 inspired the Thousand Voices Campaign, in which more than 1,000 letters were delivered to the state capital. He said legislators eventually buckled, and the university received its funding, but the Office of Government, Community and Public Relations knew the school’s budget would be increasingly threatened, thus TALON was created.

“By simply entering your name and address,” Ramos-Castillo said, “a letter is sent on your behalf to your elected official, so that your respective representatives are aware that you are paying attention and that your voice matters.”

As of Wednesday, Jan. 26, 17 people have signed up for the rally. Saltry urged university members to sign up.

“We need everybody,” Saltry said. “We need everybody on every issue. But we really need you on this one.”

Cary Carr can be reached at

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