More than 30 students from Idaho State University in Pocatello traveled to the Idaho State Capitol in Boise to protest a proposed fee hike and advocate for more money for higher education. ISU students gathered on the south steps of the Capitol and chanted “Cuts hurt,” “fight for the future,” and “no more budget cuts; we’re already poor.”
Diana Painter, a senior majoring in anthropology, said she wants Idaho lawmakers to change the higher ed budget. “It’s not too late for them to suggest something different,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair that students are being double teamed by the economy and the state budget.” She said she and other ISU students have met with legislators from southeast Idaho to discuss the budget for state universities and colleges. Lawmakers proposed a budget that includes a $32 million reduction for higher education. ISU is proposing a 9.9 percent tuition and fee hike. Full-time students would pay an additional $495 a year. “For me, that’s two months’ rent,” Painter said. “It’s just the wrong time for that.”
“We were expecting a lot more (students) and we are disappointed,” said Tom Briggs, a graduate student in education, who has also been a teacher and is a member of ISU’s student senate. He said the group that came to the Capitol represents 16,000 students at ISU. He said proposed fee hikes would be especially bad for ISU students. “We’re an incredibly poor populace … We can’t handle more budget cuts.”
After a short protest on the steps of the Capitol, ISU students attended a Senate Education Committee. ”As you go to decide this budget as it goes to the floor, remember the students that are struggling,” ISU student body president Ross Knight told lawmakers. “I have seen tuition rise quickly.”
“The most difficult part of this job is to not provide enough money for K-12 and higher education,” Sen. John Andreason, R-Boise, told Knight during the meeting. "Our top priority is going to be recover from this and to increase funding for universities."