Students protest UNC system budget cuts
Posted March 27, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. — A college students' group protested in downtown Raleigh Wednesday morning against suggestions that proposed cuts for the state's public universities could include closing some University of North Carolina system campuses.
About a dozen protesters from the NC Student Power Union demonstrated outside the North Carolina Department of Administration building on West Jones Street, saying Gov. Pat McCrory's proposed budget cuts to the UNC system could price many students out of getting a university education.
"I've worked hard to be able to go to school," said Western Carolina University student Thomas Allison. "We've seen tuition increase and we've seen budget cuts, and we see the effects in all of our schools. I don't want to lose my education and I'm willing to work for it, but if it gets too much, there's only so much you can do."
In a Power Union statement Wednesday, UNC-Greensboro student Carla Guzman said eliminating campuses would hurt historically black colleges and universities as well as schools in rural, poor communities.
"All North Carolina public universities are essential to the local economies they are a part of. The way to grow our state’s economy is not to cut our children’s future or divest from education. We should be investing more resources into quality public education. We cannot tolerate any further attacks on working families and public schools.”
A top Republican budget-writer in the state Senate said last week that colleagues likely will consider whether it makes sense to cut some of the 17 UNC campuses. Sen. Pete Brunstetter of Forsyth County says potential consolidation will get a hard look by lawmakers.
"I think our members definitely envision that there could be some consolidation between campuses, and we might need to from 16 down to 15, 14 – something like that," Brunstetter said.
McCrory last week proposed cutting more than $140 million in state funds for the UNC system next year. He also recommends increasing out-of-state tuition by 12 percent at places like UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and four other campuses.
The North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus say the closures would be a big setback for higher education in the state.
"That's going to the hurt the quality of education, the quality of teaching, the quality of research, the quality of everything that's in these institutions," Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, said last week.