Pitt-Bradford Students Rally to Restore Budget

Corbett’s proposed budget would cut Pitt-Bradford funding in half

BRADFORD, Pa. – Dozens of University of Pittsburgh at Bradford students, joined by staff and faculty, gathered in the cold Bromeley Quadrangle Thursday afternoon for “Stand with Pitt: Rally to Restore the Budget.”

The purpose of the rally was to raise awareness of the university’s plight in light of Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget, which would cut the state’s contributions to the University of Pittsburgh by 52 percent.

Dr. Livingston Alexander, president, spoke at the rally, assuring students that the Pitt system will not close regional campuses and that Pitt-Bradford will not eliminate majors.

“We are very optimistic that things will change” during the budget process, he said, but warned that tuition increases are “inevitable” and an attempt will be made to keep increases at a minimum.

Alexander and others speaking at the rally also urged those gathered to take their concerns to their legislators through letters, voting and attending Pitt in Harrisburg Day April 5. Pitt-Bradford will be taking a full bus of students to the capital next week to meet with members of the legislature, who will have to amend and approve the final budget.

“We’ve entered challenging times, but that does not make higher education less important,” said Jasmine Iddings, a public relations major from Locust Gap who was one of the student speakers at the rally organized by the Student Government Association.

Iddings, a junior, said that her brother will start college at Pitt-Bradford in the fall, giving her parents two children in college.

“If these budget cuts go through, the sad truth is that neither of us would be able to continue our education because we couldn’t afford it,” she said.

Dr. Greg Page, associate professor of psychology and president of the Pitt-Bradford Faculty Senate, spoke on behalf of the faculty.

Page said that most members of the faculty are not afraid for themselves, but for tuition increases that could be faced by their students.

While retiring faculty are being replaced, searches for some new faculty positions have been put on hold. Faculty who are already teaching an overload of courses may not be able to continue teaching courses that have few students, he said.

He urged students to continue their fight, as did Erik Austin, a broadcast communications major from Duke Center and one of the rally’s organizers.

“The student response to this matter has been astonishing,” he said. “We need to stay strong and stay involved.”

In addition to the rally and Pitt in Harrisburg, lobbying day, Austin, freshman Daniel Robinson, a nursing major from Smethport, and members of student government organized a letter-writing day last week that yielded 135 letters to representatives.

They are also working on a DVD to take to legislators next week and a call-in day, when they will ask students, alumni and friends of the university to call their representatives.

Alexander praised student leaders for their organizing efforts.

Alexander said he has always considered Pitt-Bradford students the best in the commonwealth.

“Now I tell legislators how worried our students are,” he said.

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