PSU students attend town hall meeting in support of increasing state funding

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Illustration by Robby Day

Portland State students and members of the Portland public met at noon, March 3 in East Multnomah County Town Hall to voice their concerns and demands to state legislators for the upcoming Oregon budget finalization.

PSU graduate student Taylor Steenblock spoke her demands to the panel saying, “Oregon public universities need at least an additional $100 million to keep tuition increases at or near 5 percent. Without this $100 million dollars, access to public universities will dwindle for those students who benefit most from a higher education.”

Students at PSU are likely to see a 9 percent or greater tuition increase, according to a temperature check by the PSU Board of Trustees after a briefing by PSU Finance and Administration. State funds are distributed to the seven public universities in Oregon. PSU would only see a portion of any increase in state funding.

Undergraduate student Lupita Velazquez also shared her own story: “When I was applying to different colleges in my last year of high school, my parents were not able to pay for my education. So I was worried that I was going to have to take out loans and that I was going to be in debt for the rest of my life. So that’s why PSU stood out to me—because it was the one that offered me the most scholarship help.”

Velazquez and many other students hope that this funding increase will help incoming and current students, especially those in lower income brackets, to find the necessary scholarship help in order to finance their higher education.

Two additional PSU student speakers and football players, Anthony and Sam, demanded to keep tuition increases under 5 percent and to restore funding to the sports lottery fund.

Several PSU students held up large signs marked with “100+” in solidarity with the range of student speakers.

“For several decades we’ve been in the midst of a slow-moving catastrophe: the gradual defunding of our public universities,” said speaker John Beer, an assistant professor at PSU. “That defunding represents a disinvestment in democracy. These universities play a central role in Oregon and the nation, providing access to education, to jobs, and to the skills and knowledge fundamental to citizenship.”

State Reps. Hernandez, Paluso, Gorsek, Bynum, and Keney-Guyer, and Sens. Dembrow and Frederick heard out the crowd as they lobbied to keep funding for various programs such as Planned Parenthood, Oregon Health Plan, as well as maintaining appropriate funding for Portland public schools and universities.

“In addition to these budget roadshow hearings, we do have one full-time lobbyist that is constantly working throughout legislative session to ensure that PSU is well represented in budget conversations at the state level, as well as one federal lobbyist and one local lobbyist,” Steenblock told the Vanguard. “Our state lobbyist is working hard this session in particular to get an extra $100 million dollars added to the Public Universities Support Fund, as well as highlighting the importance of funding sports action lottery and our capital construction project.”

There will be a PSU day at the capitol on April 6 where students, faculty and alumni will get a chance to meet face to face with state legislators to discuss tuition and to push for funding increases.

Click Here ← this is the page where students can sign up for the April 6 event.

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