HARRISBURG, Pa. - Nearly a dozen college students from the 14 schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education spend the day in Harrisburg demanding change. They presented their student master plan to the Board of Governor's with the recommended changes.
Student fight for tuition free and accessible college, a wage of $15/hr for student and campus workers, a freeze on funding for student groups that harbor white supremacists and more to be done for undocumented immigrant students, and survivors of sexual assault.
"Don't settle for status quo," said Kahlida Cephas, student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. "Don't keep allowing these things to happen when we have the power to change them and our voices need to be heard and it's urgent that we speak now."
The students attending the Board of Governor's meeting, talking directly with those in charge of making change among the Pennsylvania State System of High Education schools. The board ultimately making the decision to raise tuition by $112 to help offset a projected $49.2 million budget deficit, with an additional $20 million of budget cuts to be done by the universities.
"College no longer feels like it's about education, it feels like its about debt," said Nathan Warren. "So, the meeting inside, we spoke and we were present but the student voices felt ignored."
The students raising concerns about student hate groups or crimes on campus. Warren says there was an incident where posters for a white supremacist group were put up on campus. Warren says the school acted promptly to take them down, but was disappointed nothing else was done to punish whomever put them up.
"The response that it just didn't happen, it couldn't happen at our school is definitely incorrect," said Warren. "Because it can and does happen everywhere."
The students also calling for PASSHE to raise minimum wage for student and campus workers to $15/hr. Kahlida Cephas, a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, says she works two jobs on campus, both barely making above minimum wage. Cephas says as a full-time student working two part-time jobs, she's barely making enough money to cover tuition and other expenses as a nursing major.
"We're paying a lot of money to be on this campus," said Cephas. "We should be paid a living wage to remain on the campus."
while things didn't necessarily go in favor of the students, they plan to keep fighting until change is made. PASSHE told me it is encouraging the students are making their choices known on important issues, and they agree with them in many areas. They plan to take their recommendations into consideration when making any future decisions.