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Troy students lobby for higher ed funding

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Victoria Cirilli

Staff Writer

Troy students traveled to Montgomery on Thursday, Feb. 22, to advocate for government funding at Higher Education Day.
The STARS committee, along with a diverse group of students from various clubs and organizations, got to march around the Capitol as well as have a luncheon with legislatures and guest speakers, including the governor.

The STARS Committee works on behalf of SGA to plan Troy’s involvement in Higher Ed Day, said SGA President Ashli Morris, a senior political science major from Athens.

“The experience of advocating for something that I really believe in with people that appreciate it the same (was inspiring),” said David Whitfield, a sophomore music education major from Sterrett and a member of the “Sound of the South.” “It was really cool to hear from people who make decisions for our state … that they want the same things we want.”

The schedule included a parade around the Capitol buildings led by Alabama State University’s marching band, which led to a signing ceremony of all the university’s student government presidents, including Morris.

“I think the most outstanding thing in this process was that we got to know that there are other ways of doing this same thing,” said Mavis Awuku, a sophomore nursing major from Ghana, West Africa, and member of the STARS committee. “I know that I could advocate for higher education just by going back to Troy and speaking to the Senate or House member in my area.”

Immediately following the parade, students were led to a tent where they had a catered luncheon with state legislatures who recently broke from debate.

Senator Gerald Dial, president pro temp for the board of trustees for Troy University, spoke regarding the value of higher education.

“We understand the repercussion for raising tuition,” Dial said. “Fortunately, we have a little extra money, so we won’t have to do that this year.”

Gov. Kay Ivey, a graduate from Auburn University, was the keynote speaker for the event, emphasizing the importance of higher education as well as the government’s duty to reinforce a valuable education.

“I’m proud to say that my first education budget that I’ve put together and introduced to the legislature is the largest investment in education in a decade,” Ivey said. “When the legislative folks and the governor can work together, can communicate, can collaborate, you make a whole lot more progress.

“I want to thank you (students) for your passion, your energy and your commitment to respect the institution of higher education that you attend, and I encourage you to always be loyal to that institution’s values and mission.”

Ivey stated her interest in keeping funding for Alabama public institutions on a steady progression in order to make Alabama a successful state again.

The lobbyist group that partners with the STARS Committee and each university in Alabama is the Higher Education Partnership of Alabama whose website claims they “protect Alabama’s higher education resources for generations to come.”