Students run for higher education

The end of a statewide marathon advocating higher education will come together today at a rally on the steps of the state Capitol.

According to Trenton Kemp, student body president of Salt Lake Community College and president of the Utah Student Association, “Legislators aren’t doing their part for funding schools and teachers of higher education.”

The Utah Student Association has sponsored “Going the Extra Mile for Higher Education,” in which students from the U, Southern Utah University, Dixie College, Snow College, the College of Eastern Utah, Utah Valley State College and SLCC have run since Tuesday, Feb. 17, from the Idaho and Nevada borders.

According to Kemp, the students are running with letters for the House and Senate promoting more legislative funding for teachers and salaries and will unite at the state Capitol.

“We want to let the legislators and the public know the importance of teachers and higher education,” Kemp said. “We’re losing lots of good-quality teachers…it’s a noble profession, and they deserve higher salaries.”

At 9 a.m. today, students will meet at the Associated Students of the University of Utah office in the Union and will run to Brigham Young Historical Park. Starting at 10 a.m., students and student body presidents will run from the park to the Capitol steps and read their letters to the House of Representatives around 11:30 a.m. and to the Senate at 12:45 p.m.

The letters, written by the Utah Student Association for the legislators, state that “…faculty and staff across the state have not received a cost-of-living increase in the last two years, they are among the lowest-paid and hardest-worked professionals in the nation’s higher education system…We, the students, feel that we have done our part in the compensation of faculty and staff through the continual increase of tuition.”

The letter also states that the state of Utah “has not only neglected to fund students, but has decreased benefits to faculty and staff. This trend cannot continue.”

According to Kemp, the student body presidents are OK with tuition increases as long as the teachers are being compensated.

“Our goal is to give the legislators a chance to think about this and make higher education funding on the priority list,” Kemp said. “They can react, or ignore the whole thing, which I hope doesn’t happen.”

At 10:30 a.m. the student body presidents, Gov. Olene Walker, Rich Kendall, the commissioner for higher education, and Rep. Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake City, will give speeches on the steps of the Capitol.

“Anyone can come. We want as many people as possible and all students who want to participate,” Kemp said. “We want to do this for the teachers.”

[email protected]