Day of Action for Public Higher Education

Adrianna Rochester – General Assignment Reporter

The Day of Action for Public Higher Education—sponsored by the Congress of Community Colleges, UCONN- AAUP and the CSU-AAUP took place on Thursday, Jan. 26. The goal of this union was to rally against the “long-term trend of education defunding” and spending cuts that result in tuition increase.

Professor Julian Madison of Southern said he is a member and supporter of the Connecticut State University American Association of University Professors (CSU-AAUP).

“Budget cuts for education is a huge problem and most legislatures don’t know what’s going on in a college,” Madison said. “There’s this impression that the college climate doesn’t change, but that’s wrong.”

The goal of the rally and the union of the CSUs was to meet with the state’s legislatures along with students to advocate for their education. According to Madison, budget cuts force tuition to increase. Due to an increase in tuition, students cannot afford to attend college, there is a cut in faculty, and it ultimately takes away from the quality of education for students.

“Education always gets cut first, which doesn’t make sense to me because the students are the future,” he said. “We should be investing in them.”

At the same time, Madison acknowledged the fact that politicians do not listen if people do not vote, so he urged the importance for students to be active and be heard because if they do not act, students will ultimately suffer in the end.

“Connecticut has cut back aid to colleges over the last years, which is why tuition is so high now,” said Madison.  

Cindy Stretch, English professor, said this was the first time the union came together, but the fight for public education has been going on for many years.

“The speaker at the rally said it was a feel good day and I agree,” Stretch said. “There were a lot of students from Southern—we filled a bus and a half.”

Stretch said she hopes the efforts that were put forth at the rally is brought back to everyone’s individual college campuses.

“All the students know the struggle and know what needs to be done and the rally showed that,” she said.

John O’Connor of Central Connecticut State University said this rally was a trial, but after seeing how well it went, he hopes to unite together for another rally in the near future.

“The union has to be together and students have to organize if we want to see any changes,” O’Connor said.

“We have to educate people on what budget cuts do to the community and get students to protect their own education because no else will,” he said. “Sometimes that means stepping out of one’s comfort zone to get the job done.”

O’Connor said everyone left the rally feeling hopeful. However, that does not mean the work is done. He said now everyone can go back to their campus and continue to further the efforts to save public education funding.

Photo Courtesy: Brokk Tollefson – Special to the Southern News


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