Student voices, not photo ops, needed in fight for state funding
November 23, 2009 —
On Nov. 18, Gov. Jennifer Granholm visited our campus to show support for SVSU students who depend on higher education funding and the Michigan Promise Scholarship. While I appreciate her visit to campus, I feel incredibly disappointed with the results.
Allow me to explain. Granholm, who has consistently voiced her support for students of our state, spoke to our gathering for a short period of time. But I, like the majority of students in attendance, was under the impression that questions would be allowed. A question-andanswer format would have been much more productive for everyone involved than a fifteen minute speech of encouragement and photo ops.
While I believe that our governor’s statewide travels really are meant to show support for higher education, this rally wasn’t designed to give SVSU students a voice — it was designed to be a publicity stunt.
If she wanted an honest gauge of our feelings and our concerns, our own voices would be much more accurate in measuring discontent than hers. The rally might have gotten ugly, but frankly, I would be disappointed if we were anything less than angry.
Like many SVSU students, I benefited from higher education funding with the Michigan Promise Scholarship. I chose to attend SVSU because of the financial help I would receive from the school and the state, and I worked hard in high school under the impression that I would have an incentive to attend college: part of the cost would be taken care of by the state. I never considered that this funding would disappear; after all, it was called the Promise Scholarship.
Now, in my second year at SVSU, I only received $1,000 of the $4,000 from the state, and I am grateful to SVSU for covering $500 for this semester. While $4,000 is not much in the cost of higher education, it was certainly a large help and relief for my family and for me. How I will come up with the additional $2,500 I expected to receive from the state is anybody’s guess.
But my situation is not nearly as troublesome as it is for other students. A dear friend of mine was the recipient of state work study funding and has been able to pay for the majority of her education at SVSU through work study. Following the cuts to these funds, a huge strain has been put on her ability to continue attending school. She now has to rethink how she’ll finish college without massive debt.
But she isn’t the only student in this situation — similar or worse situations have been handed to students at SVSU and throughout the state.
Granholm, however, is not the only one who should be held accountable — our senators are the people we really need to pressure for support. We have senators currently representing this area, Dr. Roger Kahn and Tony Stamas, who voted to cut higher education funding.
I am appalled that our state is losing its faith in students. What happened to investing in the future of this state? These legislators, many of whom are from a generation where government aid was more readily available to attend college, are certainly not making our decisions for our future any easier. If they have any hopes of our economy rebounding, then they must start with investing in our education so we can begin to bring jobs back to Michigan. Otherwise, as was said at the rally, the biggest export of this state will be us students.
As I conclude my first opinion with the Vanguard, I encourage you, along with every single student of SVSU, to contact our legislators and hold them personally accountable for playing with our individual futures. We won’t reach our full success and potential as individuals and as a state without their support.