By Stephanie Brewster
If you thought obtaining a higher education, getting a degree, or learning a trade was already as expensive and challenging as possible, you may have a bone to pick with your local legislator. Ross Boggs, the Vice President of Montana Tech’s Student Senate, ASMT, brought up the issue of rising education costs with Tech students on March 28th in the Copper Lounge of the Student Union Building (SUB). The event, from 12 to 1 PM, rallied students together in protest of possible tuition cost increases.
When asked about preparing for the rally, Boggs responded that the event came after weeks of planning and coordinating, and was a state wide event.
“This is an action day,” Boggs stated. “The budget cut affects every school and every student.”
According to Boggs, every campus, state wide, involved in MUS had “something going on” March 28th to protest the tentative legislation decision.
The purpose of the rally was to gather students, inform them of the coming education price inflation, and show them how to contact their representatives. Pictures, video, and role were also taken to later send to representatives, showing legislators how budget cuts will affect students and future professionals.
One Montana Tech student who attended the rally, Weston Dishman, a graduating senior, stated, “I do not know what the state’s budget is. While education is valuable, the state should also be fiscally responsible.”
“Not a lot of people know about the budget cuts,” Boggs responded in reference to legislative decisions to make million dollar budget cuts to education earlier. “We noticed budget cuts would have a significant negative impact on students.”
The announced reformation of Montana’s budget in January of 2017 means a tentative 23 million dollars will be lost from Montana’s 2018 to 2019 fiscal year, according to the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. These cuts could mean unaffordable tuition prices and “adverse impacts” on the state of Montana, students, and college campus’ academic programs.
“Every college will handle it differently,” Boggs responded to the possibility of budget cuts. While Boggs wasn’t absolute about how the cuts would affect students at Montana Tech, he did say it may make it harder for out-of-state, international, and incoming students to attend and pay for school in a time where college attendance is already falling.
Boggs plans to counteract the decision of legislators by being proactive. He used the hour long rally to teach students how to contact their representative, show Diggers how to “let their voices be heard”, and redirect the fiscal response of legislators by calling them.
“Legislators rarely hear from individuals,” Boggs stated. “A phone call from a single individual can make a big impact.”
In the midst of the budget cut conversation, Boggs’ family joined the crowd of students to advocate for Diggers by contacting their local representatives as well.
“I love that part,” Boggs said about his family joining the rally. Boggs also reflected on the way his family shaped who he is, saying, “I have a great family.”
Boggs’ family followed a handout out on “How to contact your representative” that guides students and their families to follow a script to make it easier to email or call legislators. The script can be obtained from Ross Boggs and includes reasons why education funding is not a needed budget cut and why “higher education is one of the best investments Montana can make”.