500 students from colleges across the commonwealth marched on Frankfort yesterday afternoon to tell legislators that the planned 6.4 percent budget cuts to higher education are unacceptable. Kentucky’s student body is putting its foot down—and yesterday it was a bare one. Students participating at the Rally for Higher Education made it a “Barefoot Campaign,” going shoeless through the halls of the capital. UofL Student Government Association President Kurtis Frizzell calls the Barefoot Campaign a protest against “Kentucky’s attempt to fulfill its own stereotype”—that is, poor, uneducated and barefoot.
The 500-student turnout was unexpectedly high—so much so that some had to move off the first floor, which couldn’t bear the weight of all those twinkle-toes. Four legislators made remarks: Rep. Quarles (R-62), Rep. Keith Hall (D-93), Rep. Flood (D-75) and Rep. Henderson (D-74), who according to Frizzell, said to the crowd, “It’s time to get your game-face on,” as he shed his kicks.
The activists were also there in support of HB 152. The bill sponsored by Rep. Keith Hall and cosigned by SGA senior advisor Max Morley, aims to define college affordability, so that the opportunity for Kentuckians to attend college remains protected for the future. Based on Frizzell’s bleak stats, it looks like we need it. Frizzell says that Kentucky is 48th in the nation in Bachelor degree attainment—and it’s not helping anything that we also have the second highest rate of tuition escalation in the U.S.
Frizzell says he knows that “there are realities we have to face,” when it comes to our commonwealth’s budget woes. But for this SGA President, for his classmates and for the future of Kentucky, 6.4 percent is just too much to cut from too important a sector.