First, just to give you a flavor of the rally, here are some of the chants I’ve heard.
(Hey, I love slogans.)
Tuition is a tax! Keep it off our backs!
I don’t know, but I’ve been told: High tuition’s gettin’ old!
1-2-3-4! Stomp tuition through the floor! Stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp!
How high is tuition? Too high!
And the Twisted Sister classic:
We’re not gonna take it. No, we ain’t gonna take it! We’re not gonna take it anymore….
Tuition cap? Cheers.
Tuition increase? Boos and hisses.
Geoff Dittberner, vice president of the Minnesota State College Student Association, talked to the troops — about 400-500 by association estimates — that were standing at the steps of the Capitol. (My notes are not verbatim.)
Enough is enough. You’re the students working multiple jobs. You’re the parents who have to raise your families. I don’t have to tell you all of the stats and figures about tuition and debt. You’re all living it!
A number of lawmakers and higher-ed officials showed up to offer support, including state Office of Higher Education Director Sheila Wright, Rep. Terry Morrow (DFL-St. Peter) and state Sen. John Carlson (R-Bemidji).
Morrow told the crowd as he pointed to the Capitol building:
“So let me get this straight. You’re getting charged more — and getting less? … I don’t think the people in there can hear you.”
Carlson drew cheers from the crowd over the bill he recently proposed that would put a freeze on tuition. His proposal has drawn criticism from both University of Minnesota ‘President Bob Bruininks and the Minnesota Daily, which have said a tuition freeze could harm the quality of education by cutting off funds.
The leaders from the Minnesota State College Student Association and Minnesota State University Student Association I talked to said they agree, though they welcome the thought, they said. A tuition cap that would allow a maximum increase of 3-4 percent is more what they had in mind.
Carlson acknowledged that, telling me it was just to stir up discussion.
“Without putting (the subject) on the table in a bill, we won’t get a debate on it.”
Legislators are scheduled to discuss that this afternoon.
Meanwhile, students are meeting with individual legislators to get their support for tuition control.