“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance” and “Hide your professors. Hide your deans. They be cuttin’ everybody up in here” signs were held by Louisiana college and university students during the rally for higher education at the state capitol Wednesday afternoon. Ninety GSU students attended, according to Student Government Association President Lamark Hughes.
About 500 total students attended the rally, which remained peaceful, except for a few boisterous and profane participants.
The rally was organized by Education Now and boasted attendance from students from Southeastern University, Southern University, University of New Orleans, Nicholls State University and other schools affected by budget cuts.
Most of the crowd’s displeasure was attributed to governor Bobby Jindal, who many in the crowd said does not value their educations or futures.
Funding concerns remain as budgets cuts are expected to continue. About $310 million in state money was removed from higher education, beginning two years ago.
The universities that were represented at the event selected student speakers to explain the importance of education.
Sophomore Class President Jonathan Allen, a marketing/management major from New Iberia spoke for Grambling State University.
“We’re tired of bleeding (from budget cuts). We want our educations to be considered,” said Allen.
“We demonstrated our desire to be educated as we drove hours to Baton Rouge to say we refuse to allow our opportunity of growth to be taken away from us.”
“Education is not what makes us smart or intelligent .
“Education is merely the molding wheel or sharpening tool that prepares and equips us to compete in this world,” said Allen.
One aspect of the rally that people kept remarking on was the cohesiveness of its participants.
“The support of GSU students at today’s rally shows the state that we can unite with other state schools,” said Hughes.
“It took us to stand up and speak out to stir up the capitol.
“To see different universities, ethnicities, and social classes together fighting for the same cause was powerful,” Allen said.
None of GSU’s rally participants marched on empty stomachs. The GSU bookstore paid for breakfast in McCall Dining Hall for students who live off campus.
On-campus students were encouraged to use one of their meal swipes.
After the rally, Grambling State students enjoyed lunches that were paid for by GSU alumni.
An area politician wanted students to know that they were supported and that the rally did not go unnoticed.
Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Claude “Buddy” Leach, Jr. issued a statement in response to the event. In it, he said:
“I want the young people who organized this rally and students all across our state to know that the Louisiana Democratic Party is behind them one hundred percent.
“As a graduate of LSU, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without Louisiana’s public university system.
“Governor Jindal ran for office on a promise to invest in our state’s future, but now he’s turning his back on Louisiana students.
“Make no mistake, this isn’t about politics or elections or any of that.
“This is about the future of Louisiana, pure and simple, and we’re not going to let Governor Jindal destroy our public colleges and universities.