Across the nation, public education is under attack. Entire departments are being cut, workers are being laid off, tuition continues to rise, and the quality of our education is plummeting. The economic crisis puts public education at the forefront of the budget cuts and has resulted in students across the world rising up to fight these cuts. In November 2009, Georgia Students for Public Higher Education formed to defend public education and denounce the fee hikes at Georgia State University. In March 2010, we had our first rally in which over 500 people attended.
Georgia Students for Public Higher Education is a growing grassroots organization with chapters at various campuses across Georgia. We have chapters at University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, and Georgia Perimeter College. Everyone in the university system, from the person who teaches to the person who cleans, is deeply affected by the institution fees and department budget cuts. We as Georgia Students feel that education is a right and not a privilege, and we demand quality education that is accessible for everyone, regardless of class, race, ethnicity, and especially documentation status.
Higher education in Georgia took another devastating hit when Governor Nathan Deal announced his plans to cut the HOPE scholarship. The HOPE scholarship is a scholarship program that began in 1993 specifically designed to assist working class students attend college. However, Governor Deal’s proposal, which includes raising the GPA and SAT requirement for full tuition coverage, shows who Deal and his supporters think education should be fore. Like all budget cuts, the working class, people of color, women, and children are hardest hit. GSPHE is firmly opposed to cuts that increase barriers to higher education to those who are already greatly underserved.
Deal’s proposal, HB 326, moved swiftly through the House and Senate and GSPHE organized several demonstrations outside of the Capitol, ultimately resulting in the arrest of one student and several other students receiving criminal trespassing warnings . On top of the cuts to HOPE, the Board of Regents passed a law that will ban undocumented students from some Georgia schools, and now Georgia politicians want to ban undocumented students from ALL Georgia schools (I thought they didn’t?)
Georgia law makers, the state legislators, the Board of Regents, and all other bureaucratic bodies continue to burden us with the economic crisis that we did not cause. We will not pay for their crisis! Politicians force the cuts on us because they think we are the path of least resistance, but we will continue to resist. As students, as workers, as professors, and community members, we must all fight together to defend our RIGHT to education!
This is only the beginning! We voice not only our concerns, but the concerns of students and workers nationwide. We DEMAND that they STOP THE CUTS! STOP DEFUNDING OUR FUTURES! And STOP THE ATTACKS ON HOPE and PUBLIC EDUCATION! We have the power to stop these attacks, but only when we utilize the strength in our numbers and within ourselves to stand up and fight back! When they say cut back, we say fight back!