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Board sets February referendum date

Students wanting funding not to 'suck'

ST. PAUL - Minnesota college students delivered a simple message to legislators: Don't forget us.

But their delivery was a bit more colorful than many people who lobby lawmakers.

"This sucks," recent Bemidji State University graduate Cody Nelson told a Wednesday Capitol rally. "We are sucking away the future of this state."

About 250 students crisscrossed the Capitol complex Wednesday, attempting to convince lawmakers as they try to fill a massive budget deficit that they should keep any higher education cuts to a minimum. Students said 2003 cuts from state colleges and universities still are being felt.

Jacob Littler of Virginia, Minn., said that the increasing cost of college education in recent years "far exceeds the affect of inflation."

Littler, president of the Minnesota State College Student Association, said community and technical college students he represents pay the country's second highest tuition.

"We must not forget the greater benefits a college education offers society as a whole," said Littler, who attends Mesabi Range Community and Technical College and other state schools.

Littler and other students said they understand that colleges and universities will be part of widespread budget cuts needed to balance the state budget, but they fear large cuts will lead to tuition increases to big that they drive students to other states.

"We are just looking to make sure it is not all on our backs this time," said Chris Frederick, Minnesota State University Student Association chairman and student at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Students said they are an easy targets because colleges and universities are among the few state agencies with a non-tax source of funding - tuition.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.