Opposition to Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget cuts continued Thursday as students and faculty of West Chester University gathered on campus to protest. Beginning with a walkout at 11 a.m., students congregated in the quad to share personal troubles with finances and contempt for Corbett’s proposal.
According to one student, a Facebook group was made to publicize the walkout but was unable to garner much response. A few hundred students gathered in the quad, then made their way toward Rosedale Avenue, and finally to the corner of Church Street and University Avenue where they joined faculty members who organized a protest at that location. “Tell Gov. Corbett we’ve got to fund education, public education,” said Lisa Millhous, West Chester University’s chapter president for the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.
With an insufficient audio system, speakers relied on other protesters to carry their message through repetition, a method used by Occupy movements across the country last year. “As a pre-service teacher, I feel as though this proposed budget cut not only affects my future year here at West Chester, but also my years to come in my profession,” said Wesley Strayer, a WCU student.
In Corbett’s budget, the governor proposes reductions that would cut funding to the state’s universities by 20 percent. Last year, funding to the universities was cut by 18 percent. That led to an $800 tuition increase for students at West Chester. Michael Pettis, a music theory major at West Chester, said he spent last summer trying to find enough money to return for the fall semester. He said the $800 tuition increase was devastating to him. “If this budget does pass, no longer will student-teacher personal experiences exist,” Pettis said. “Is this what we want? Is this what we deserve? Then do something, do whatever it takes to make your voice heard.”