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SGA leads letter campaign to protest tuition hikes

Recent cuts in the state’s budget have left the University System of Maryland strapped for cash. These costs are expected to be passed on to students, and this prospect has prompted them to voice their concerns.

“Hey, do you want to be a good citizen?” sophomore global studies major Isabel Geisler asks her friend from behind a black plastic table. She is joking with him, but there’s a serious thought behind it. She and freshman global studies and computer science major, Alan Severinovsky, set up on Main Street in The Commons, working on an SGA letter writing campaign.

Their little table is covered in papers arranged around two laptops. Some still stand in neat stacks, others are loose and rumpled. Two boxes contain thick bundles of envelopes.

This effort is an attempt to bring students’ grievances about increases in college tuition to the attention of the state government. Each of the hundreds of sheets of paper is a form letter of concern, just waiting for a signature.

“Tuition hikes are happening,” said Severinovsky. “Seven percent is what’s out there right now. Some of us can pay that, others cannot.”

The letters are being sent in reaction to recent news regarding the state budget. The governor’s office cut funding to the University System of Maryland for the 2015 fiscal year as part of an initiative to reduce the state’s deficit. However, many in the community feel that the 40.3 million dollar cut in education funds is not fair to students who will have to pay the difference.

“What we’re doing is writing to Maryland state delegates to tell them, ‘Hey, can you help us out? Don’t put that many cuts on the education budget,’” said Severinovsky. He estimated that this cut could mean about 700 dollars in increased cost each semester for students. For many already struggling to afford expensive tuition and fees, this increase could be prohibitive.

The letter is a simple note at only two paragraphs, but it clearly and tersely addresses the problem: “These increases in tuition will have a monumental impact on students like me,” it reads.

Based on the address of each student who signs, Severinovsky and Geisler will direct the letters to the appropriate state representatives. “We need to get as many unique districts as possible,” said Severinovsky. They hope that this widespread show of dissent will demonstrate student attitudes toward the lack of university funding.

Their goal is to muster about 250 signatures, and they’re on the right track. After only 20 minutes, they have as many signed letters. They’ll be here all afternoon.

Severinovsky had little doubt that they would see support from the student body. “I don’t know who would be against stopping tuition hikes,” he said. Though it’s hard to disagree with him, it remains to be seen if the letters will impress their recipients.