Students, faculty to advocate for fair funding for State System universities

Jan. 22, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Kathryn Morton, 717-236-7486 or kmorton@apscuf.org

 

Underfunded We Fail rally

 

Students, alumni, and faculty members from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s 14 universities will join the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties Feb. 8 to advocate for fair funding for the Commonwealth’s state-owned universities.

The rally will begin at noon in the rotunda of the State Capitol in Harrisburg.

When the State System began in the 1980s, the universities received more than 60 percent of their funding from the Commonwealth. Now, about a quarter of the State System’s funding comes from appropriations. As state allocation has decreased, tuition and fees have increased. In the yet-unfinished Pennsylvania budget, the universities are poised to receive flat funding.

“The burdens on our students and their families keeps growing, and student debt is skyrocketing,” said Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, APSCUF’s president.

Systemwide, the universities have lost hundreds of employees, and more than 100 programs have been discontinued since 2011. Many class sizes ballooned as remaining faculty members took on additional courses. As universities continue to operate with less, they’ve “cut the fat,” Mash said.

“Anything that gets cut now is a matter of cutting into bone,” he said.

The rally will address these issues and the importance of increasing the State System’s funding, Mash said.

The event, which is to last about an hour, is slated to include comments from State System students, faculty members, and officials, as well as legislators who are affiliated with State System universities. Afterward, rally attendees may visit their legislators to continue discussing the need for increased funding.

“The only way to effect change in our state schooling system is to involve our student voices,” Olivia J. Straka, a senior at Shippensburg University, said. “I support and plan on attending this rally to show our state how important funding is and that we as students are prepared to speak out until the right actions are taken.”

Kevin Carson of West Chester University plans to attend the rally, too.

“Inadequate funding of our state schools is jeopardizing the future of Pennsylvania,” the sophomore political science major said.

APSCUF is providing free transportation and lunch to students, faculty, and alumni traveling from State System campuses to the event. Pickup points and times will be posted at www.APSCUF.org/students as they become available.

Attendees should use the hashtag #fundorfail on social media and also can contribute to APSCUF’s Snapchat story.

To R.S.V.P. for the event, visit APSCUF’s Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/1ONJMoo. Attendees also should reserve a seat for the ride by emailing their campus APSCUF chapter’s office manager with the subject line “I’m going to the rally.” A list of office managers by campus is at www.APSCUF.org/students.

“Our hope is to have as many students, alumni, faculty, and other supporters attend so our public officials can hear our unified message that underfunding our universities is no longer acceptable,” Mash said.

APSCUF represents about 5,500 faculty and coaches at the State System universities: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania.

For additional information and updates about the rally, visit www.APSCUF.org/students and follow APSCUF on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.