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Students at protest secure meeting to discuss tuition and other issues with Interim University President



Student protesters gathered Wednesday in the EMU Amphitheater to rally in protest against tuition increases before marching on Johnson Hall to demand a meeting with University administration. Interim University President Robert Berdahl met a small group of the protesters in the lobby to ease tensions and agreed to a meeting with a small group of students Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. in the EMU’s Ben Linder room. @@http://www.uoregon.edu/findpeople/person/robert*[email protected]@

The rally was organized by student leaders in the Multicultural Center — Beshara Kehdi, Michael King and others — through the Tuition is Too Damn High Coalition. Students met at 11 a.m. in the amphitheater to speak to the crowd on their opinions of the state’s latest round of tuition increases for its public institutions. Waves of speakers approached the stand to tell their grievances to those sitting, standing and passing by. @@http://www.uoregon.edu/findpeople/person/Beshara*[email protected]@ @@http://www.uoregon.edu/findpeople/person/Michael%20King/[email protected]@

“Students need to take back their educations,” said Kehdi. “The only way we can do that is by organizing and letting our concerns be heard.”

Approximately 50 students participated in the actual march to Johnson Hall at noon, where they entered into the lobby to chant slogans.

Most of the staff and administrators had cleared out prior to students entering except for President Berdahl himself and a few of his staff. Berdahl spoke with students on why tuition increases needed to be implemented as well as other issues surrounding state funding. Berdahl was successful at easing student frustration by agreeing to a meeting. Berdahl said he would meet with a group of 12-15 students on Thursday as long as “it doesn’t turn into a shouting match,” he said.

Berdahl took a minute to explain how crucial institutional boards are to the University and what role they could play in making an education at the University affordable.

“An institutional board that cares about this institution and is committed to this institution and works with the administration will inspire the confidence of donors about the commitment to excellence this institution has,” Berdahl said. “If we can build our endowment so that there is a lot more financial aid available, and a central part of any capital campaign we have going forward is to raise scholarships.”

Student leaders including King and Kehdi will be present at Thursday’s meeting along with a short list of other student leaders to be named Thursday morning. King spoke on the importance of showing the administration and state education leaders that students stand in solidarity and will not take these increases lightly.

“We are here to show that there are real solutions to the problems and that we will not let tuition hikes go without a fight,” King said.


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