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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Students stand against education cuts

The Missouri Students Association is calling on students to sign an online petition, send letters to legislators and tweet about the proposed cuts for higher education.

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Cassie Kibens/Graphic Designer

Jan. 27, 2012

Corrected 01/27/2012 at 11:49 a.m. It was incorrectly stated that MU is ranked 42 in state funding. MU is ranked 45 in state funding. The Maneater regrets the error.

In the wake of Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposed 12.5 percent budget cut to education, some MU students are voicing their opposition.

“We want to let legislators know that students are very passionate about this issue,” said Zach Toombs, Missouri Students Association Director of Student Communications .

MSA passed a resolution opposing the cuts Wednesday. It hopes to show legislators there is overwhelming opposition to the proposed budget, as well as highlighting facts and trends in education funding in Missouri, Toombs said.

The UM System receives less funding than it did in 2001, yet educates 17,000 more students, according to MSA's bill. If the proposed budget is passed, the UM System will be operating with the lowest amount of state funding since 1997.

Compared to other states, Missouri ranks 45 in state funding for higher education, MU Budget Director Tim Rooney said.

MSA President Xavier Billingsley said when MU moves to the SEC, it will be dead last in the conference for funding.

The resolution also points out that MU students are paying 21 percent more of MU’s operations budget compared to 20 years ago. The state is paying 28 percent less.

MSA’s “Resources for Taking a Stand” page on its website calls for students to fight against “this trend that burdens students with more debt and more costs every year.”

The page outlines several ways to show opposition to the budget cuts. MSA asks students to sign an online petition and write a letter to their state representative or senator.

MSA will host a letter-writing campaign in the student center from Feb. 6 to 10. MSA Chief of Staff Steven Dickherber said students will be able to sign pre-written letters or draft their own that MSA will mail.

Dickherber said he thinks a letter campaign will be effective because it shows students are willing to put in the extra effort to make themselves heard.

MSA’s online petition was launched yesterday and has already surpassed 100 signatures.

“We’ve had a very exciting online presence just in the last 12 hours or so,” Toombs said.

MSA has also started using #moreforless on Twitter. The phrase alludes to students in Missouri paying more money for schools with less state funding.

“It kind of highlights how off these trends are as far as state funding for education in Missouri goes,” Toombs said. “We’re at the point where students are facing a very real situation where they’re very likely going to be paying more money for less resources.”

The Associated Students of the University of Missouri has partnered with MSA on this project, Toombs said.

“(Our partnership) is going to give us a really valuable voice down in Jefferson City,” he said. “It’s going to give us connections nobody in MSA would be able to provide.”

Toombs said MSA passed the resolution hoping to show its opposition, but was unsure how much it could affect the state budget. With a growing online presence, the campaign’s effects could be greater than expected.

“All we can do is focus on our end of things. I think so far, everything has exceeded expectations,” Toombs said. “It’s adapting at this point, and it’s hard to really tack down what kind of effect we think it will have.”

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