Students rally against budget cuts

Story by Cody Hall, Contributing writer

Murray State students will join a rally with other university students around Kentucky to protest budget cuts proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin.

Students plan to meet at 10 a.m. Feb. 25 at Kentucky State’s stadium parking lot. From there, they will march onto the State Capitol’s front yard with professional signs opposing the cuts. The students plan to stay until 6 p.m.

“There are elements in the Governor’s budget that are of great concern to Murray State University,” President Bob Davies wrote in an email to Murray State students about the proposed cuts.

“These budget cuts, if enacted, would result in devastating reductions at Murray State and further shift the cost burden of higher education to students and their families,” Davies wrote in the email.

“These cuts further hamper our ability to carry out our mission in providing a high quality, affordable education to the students of our region and state,” he wrote. 

If the budget is passed, beginning  on July 1, the university’s state appropriation may have a permanent reduction of 9 percent – over $4 million.

Before July 30, the university may have a 4.5 percent mid-year cut of state appropriations. Effects of the budget have yet to be determined since it is too early in the process and the proposed budget is will not be passed until April.

A student-led Facebook group formed the “March for Education” initiative to gain momentum and organization. 

Emily Ferguson, junior from Owensboro, Kentucky, Katherine Summerfield, senior from Louisville, Kentucky, and Kaley Owens, junior from Paducah, Kentucky, initiated the march.  

In an email to rally supporters, Ferguson wrote that this is “probably one of the most important things we will do in our college careers.” 

More than 150 students plan to attend the protest and more than 300 people are “interested” as of Wednesday, according to the Facebook group.   

Students from Western Kentucky, Kentucky State, Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State have been asked to join in the protest.

The march will be funded and organized by students.  Having received no funding from the university, students will be carpooling to Frankfort and will make signs with their own supplies.

In addition to signs, the students plan to have students speak, recite poetry, play music and put on skits.

In an organizational meeting Feb. 8, Summerfield said she wanted to let Gov. Bevin know that college students are angry and won’t stand for it. Rather than being apathetic as many college students are stereotyped, she wanted to take action.

Multiple petitions have been created due to the purposed cuts. 

A Murray State specific budget cut petition has reached more than 3,300 signatures. Martin Luther King III agreed to sign the petition when he spoke at the university for the Presidential Lecture series. He also said he would send a letter to the governor.

Among those that signed a petition against the budget cuts were Jacob Scott, junior from Paris, Tennessee, and Brenden Breen, sophomore from Murray. They also posted a video called “Save Murray State” to YouTube to raise attention.

“Many students like me who are here solely on financial aid will have to drop out,” Breen said in the YouTube video.  “I can not afford to attend on my own accord, so if tuition goes up, that’s it for me and many others like me.”

Scott said students must repeatedly voice their concerns to state leaders — and not just through a one-time petition.

“Day one, send an email to legislation and Gov. Bevin,” Scott said. “The next day, call both of them.  Then send them both a letter.  Then wait one day and do it all over again. Flood the legislation and Gov. Bevin’s office with so many phone calls, emails and letters that we can not be ignored.”