Rally for Higher Education

Contact: Mitchell Hall, Student Advisory Committee, Chair Student Body President, Fort Hays State University

As the 2004 election season approaches, students across the state of Kansas are taking a stand. During the month of October, Kansas newspapers will be inundated with letters regarding issues of higher education. Students of the six Kansas Board of Regents universities will be conducting a ?Rally for Higher Education.?

During the rally each institution will be conducting various events on their campuses. These events are intended to encourage Kansas students to become engaged in the political process and work to have their voices heard. However, they are not stopping there. A large portion of this rally will focus on encouraging citizens across the state to make education a real issue and demand answers to its problems from state legislative candidates. ?There are many issues before the state Legislature,? said Mitchell Hall, student body president of Fort Hays State University and chair of the Students Advisory Committee to the Kansas Board of Regents. ?However, educating the young people of our state is a critical backbone to the other issues at hand. Simply, education must be properly dealt with.?

Students from the Regents system encountered further budget difficulties last year. In one instance student fee money, funds intended for on-campus student services, were swept into the state general fund. ?The state has promised this was a one-time use of student money, but the legislators have to be willing to halt this dangerous precedent,? Hall said.

? Our main focus over the next month is to ensure that higher education is a priority in the state of Kansas and with those who will be newly elected to the legislature,? said Hayley Urkevich, student body president of Kansas State University and vice-chair of the Students Advisory Committee to the Kansas Board of Regents. ?Education is very important and has always been a top priority in our state. Educating our citizens is a means for improving our economy, stimulating economic development, and improving the quality of life in our state,? she said.

Kansas students have felt the effects of budgeting shortfalls in the last several years. Tuition rates have increased by drastic amounts. ?Education is not being talked about enough right now by the candidates. The only way to make education an issue is for the citizens of the state of Kansas to force candidates to adequately face the issue,? said Hall.

After years of working hard for their cause to maintain adequate support for higher education, students are now calling for help from the rest of the state to protect the quality and affordability of institutions serving students of the state of Kansas. Further, working to preserve these fundamental elements of higher education provides a definite benefit to the Kansas economy and society. ?Kansas must do something to protect the institutions of higher education it has been so rightly proud of in the past,? said Urkevich.

Nov. 2 is Election Day.

Hall said, ?Education is very vital to the future of Kansas and to those who live in this great state. It is up to you to make a difference and vote for the candidate who cares about Kansas and the people who live here.?

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