UNLV students walk out
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Students rally on campus, bring budget protest to legislators
Nearly 1,000 UNLV students and faculty found strength in numbers during a demonstration on Tuesday against proposed budget cuts spanning the state of Nevada.
“You’re not cutting class,” said Campus Life Director Jon “Jersey” Goldman to the congregation of Rebels, some of whom had indeed skipped classes to attend. “You’re attending a new one… Hopefully the quality is better.”
CSUN arranged for two charter buses to drive some of the protesters to the Grant Sawyer Building State Building on Washington Avenue.
Others carpooled to the location, where Nevada State legislators were meeting inside for a finance committee meeting.
Standing out in the pouring rain, students continued their chants, aimed at Nevada legislators.
United States Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., made an appearance, telling the crowd they deserve the best education.
“I’m delighted that you’re all here,” Berkley said. “Our future is you.”
Berkley added that when she attended college, she also rallied against higher education budget cuts.
“We stood up for ourselves and we stood up for the state of Nevada,” Berkley said.
Assemblymen and women and Nevada legislators, including Speaker of the Nevada Assembly Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, Majority Leader of the Nevada Assembly John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, Nevada Assembly Minority Leader Heidi S. Gansert, R-Reno, Nevada Senator Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, and Nevada Senator Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, all spoke briefly to the crowd about their efforts in the budget cut crisis.
“They have to listen to you because you guys are registed voters,” said student Karla Washington. “If you’re a registered voter, you have a voice.”
Students shouted on megaphones giving testimonies of their experiences at UNLV, while others held signs with messages to convey their anger.
“We are facing very troubling times,” Gansert said, “I’m not really sure what we’re going to do.”
The projected deficit is estimated approach 11 percent in the next two years, according to approximations made by the Nevada Economic Forum, translating to cuts of $37 million to $110 million in fiscal years 2010 and 2011.
“We’re going to let legislators know, no more cuts,” said David Rapoport, director of Nevada Student Affairs for CSUN. “…We are all voters. We are a voter base not to be messed with.”
“We need to see the size of the hole,” UNLV President Neal Smatresk..
Smatresk spoke of the waiting game that must take place before major changes are made.
“Before we plan a strategy, we need to see the size of the cuts,” he said. “And the bigger the cuts, the harsher the strategy.”
To meet the proposed cuts, the Nevada System of Higher Education has considered larger class sizes, 20 percent pay cuts, more furlough days for faculty and staff and the deletion of entire colleges.
Many students cited examples of how budget cuts will affect them.
“I’m already paying out-of-state tuition,” said Bethany Bachman, a student who skipped her 10 a.m. class to attend the protest. “I can’t afford more.”
Student Body President Adam Cronis said he was impressed with the faculty and student turnout.
“They’re in a tough spot,” he said, “but hopefully we will continue the collaborative effort.”
Reassuring students that the walkout proved benefitial, Rapoport said, “You’re not giving up on classes. You are sacrificing one day of class to protect what will be.”