Troy University students gathered for Higher Education Day in Montgomery on Thursday, Feb. 23, to encourage lawmakers to increase the funding for Alabama’s public universities.
According to the Higher Education Partnership, over 2,000 advocates attended the event.
In addition to Troy, Auburn University in Montgomery, Auburn University, Alabama State University, University of Montevallo, University of West Alabama, University of North Alabama, University of South Alabama, University of Alabama, Jacksonville State University, Athens State University and Alabama A&M University were present.
The festivities began with a parade in the streets of Montgomery led by Jacksonville State University and Alabama State University’s bands and ended at the State Capitol with university students seeking one-third of the Education Trust Fund state budget.
Gordon Stone, executive director of the Higher Education Partnership and mayor of Pike Road, involved the crowd by chanting, “What do we want?” and “What do we need?” with the crowd chanting “One-third!” in response each time.
“The reason tuition goes up is because tax dollars go down,” Stone said as he pointed to charts about what percentages each school is funded.
Governor Robert Bentley delayed a trip to Washington, D.C. to be present for the rally, according to Stone.
“Higher Education is served by this state for economic development,” Bentley said. “It applies to you as far as getting a job.
“That’s why we have education.”
Emily Banks, a freshman marketing major from Berry, attended Higher Education Day and said that it is important to let legislators know what students want.
She paraded with the sign, “What’s worth more than one-third of my education?” to show her support.
Jeremiah Cartwright, a freshman sports management major from Madison, attended Higher Education Day for the first time and wanted to learn about the educational funds.
“I wanted to learn more about where my money was going and why we need more money,” Cartwright said.