OSA to hold rally for investment in higher education from state legislature

Hey legislature, can you spare $1.315 billion? That’s the question that the Oregon Student Association will ask in Salem at its Feb. 12 rally to restore higher education.

OSA asks the state of Oregon to invest $755 million in universities and $560 million in community colleges, essentially freezing tuition so that it doesn’t rise significantly in the next two years. The universities and community colleges that make up OSA decided on the figure through a coalition.

“The students decided to have the rally on Feb. 12 to bring a lot of students to the capital and show our state officials that students care about the affordability of education,” Daniel McCall, OSA Communications director, said. The rally was picked for February to coincide with the beginning of the legislative session and ensure student participation.

Oregon has had a tuition freeze for in-state students the past two years that is coming to an end at the end of this academic year. Students like Tran Dinh will take their case for state investment in higher education to the capital steps.

Dinh, who currently serves as ASUO Vice President, plans to join in the chants and the sign holding with OSA on the 12th.

“For me personally as an international student, tuition has been increasing at an alarming rate,” Dinh said. “Having that access to really effecting change directly through direct action, the rally is really powerful for me to join in that sense, but to also feel that community with other people that feel that economic hardship. There’s a real opportunity for us to demonstrate our power and our passion.”

The Oregon Student Association represents a community of universities and community colleges around the state such as Oregon State University, Portland State University and more. Dinh expects to see 500 to 700 Oregon students at the rally.

Mickey Swartz is a freshman at UO. He spent part of his Wednesday afternoon handing out postcards for students to sign urging the Oregon Legislature to restore funding for higher education. Swartz, like Dinh, thinks that the rally will effect next year’s tuition.

“I think the fact that there’s 60,000 students that voted statewide this year, they’re definitely willing to listen to us,” Swartz said. “We just have to get enough students to fill these out and actually want to be involved in their campus.”

For such students, OSA is offering transportation and lunch to those attending the rally.

OSA is a lobbying organization founded in 1975 that advocates for student issues like tuition. Its mission statement is to represent, serve and protect the interests of postsecondary students in Oregon. In addition to its tuition and affordability campaign, OSA is also running campaigns for cultural competency, sexual assault prevention and more.

The campaign for a tuition freeze won’t be over after the rally. OSA will continue to lobby elected officials in the months to come.

“It’s a continuous effort,” Dinh said. “It’s not going to end after the rally.”

The ASUO will hold lobbying training sessions throughout the term. Students interested in working on tuition issues can contact OSA, the ASUO or join them in Salem.

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