Portland State students and members of the Portland public met at noon on March 3 in East Multnomah County Town Hall to voice their concerns and demands to state legislators for the upcoming Oregon budget finalization.
PSU graduate student Taylor Steenblock spoke her demands to the panel saying, “Oregon public universities need at least an additional $100 million to keep tuition increases at or near 5 percent. Without this 100 million dollars, access to public universities will dwindle for those students who benefit most from a higher education.”
Students at PSU are likely to see a 9 percent or greater tuition increase, according to a temperature check by the PSU Board of Trustees after a briefing by PSU Finance and Administration. State funds are distributed to the seven public universities in Oregon. PSU would only see a portion of any increase in state funding.
Several PSU students held up large signs marked with “100+” in solidarity with the range of student speakers.
“For several decades we’ve been in the midst of a slow-moving catastrophe: the gradual defunding of our public universities,” said speaker John Beer, an assistant professor at PSU. “That defunding represents a disinvestment in democracy. These universities play a central role in Oregon and the nation, providing access to education, to jobs, and to the skills and knowledge fundamental to citizenship.”
State Reps. Hernandez, Paluso, Gorsek, Bynum, and Keney-Guyer, and Sens. Dembrow and Frederick heard out the crowd as they lobbied to keep funding for various programs such as Planned Parenthood, Oregon Health Plan, as well as maintaining appropriate funding for Portland public schools and universities.