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Bemidji students to rally for higher ed funding

BEMIDJI – College students from Bemidji will travel Wednesday to the state capitol for a rally with hundreds of other students from around Minnesota, calling on legislatures to prioritize more state funds to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

The event is free to students from both Bemidji State University as well as Northwest Technical College, and transportation is provided.

Today’s events begin at 9:30 a.m. with a press conference with leaders from both the Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA) and the Minnesota State College Student Association (MSCSA).

“We’re just going to try to show that we are a force to be reckoned with,” said Philip Ehlke, legislative/MnSCU specialist for the MSUSA committee from BSU.

At 11:30 a.m., participants will walk from Saint Paul College to rally at the state capitol.

“I love having the opportunity to help influence politics, especially for students,” said Joe Moubry, diversity specialist for the MSUSA committee from BSU.

The speaking schedule is still uncertain, but several officials have been invited to appear at the rally, including Gov. Mark Dayton and MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone.

State funding for higher education has steadily declined throughout recent years from 12 percent in 1999 to 7.4 percent in 2013.

MnSCU has requested a $97 million budget. If the full amount were to be granted, it would represent a 7.3 percent increase from the previous year’s funding. The full amount would also keep BSU tuition rates from rising more than 3 percent for the next school year.

Jered Weber, director of communications for MSUSA, said although this amount is higher than the $80 million the governor proposed, officials working on behalf of students hope to obtain the full amount.

This story was written by Jordan Shearer, special to the Pioneer.