MSU students rally for Promise Scholarship funding
EAST LANSING, MI –
Governor Granholm brought her tour of Michigan college campuses to Michigan State University today. She's drumming up support for restoring the Promise Scholarship.
Students hoping the scholarships will continue were at the rally, but so were others who aren't happy with the governor, the legislature, or the MSU administration.
AUDIO: The state budget eliminates the Promise Scholarships, which had awarded $4,000 to Michigan high school graduates for higher education.
Leaders of student government at MSU organized this rally to get more students involved in the effort to restore funding.
Loss of the scholarship money has left many students wondering how they'll be able to afford to stay in school.
Speakers at the rally included governor Granholm, MSU president Lou Anna Simon, and several students.
Simon looked back at her generation which, she said, benefited from having had the promises made to them, kept.
"We were the generation that had all the research funding after Sputnik," Simon told the crowd, "all the national and international loans and opportunities for fellowships, and were also the opportunity to keep our promises for the future generation."
President Simon says that MSU will use $8,000,000 in federal stimulus funds to cover the loss of Promise Scholarship money this academic year.
Governor Granholm urged students to lobby republicans in the state senate, who she blames for the scholarship cuts.
"I stand with you," she declared. "I hope you'll not turn your backs. I hope that you will stand with me in funding the promise."
By the time she made those remarks, though, a number of students already had turned their backs on her, literally.
One of them was Gabriela Alcazar. She thinks a recently-announced list of proposed program consolidations and eliminations puts MSU president Simon on the hot seat.
"All of the budget cuts that were proposed, she's doing nothing to take into consideration students concerns," Alcazar said. "Graduate students are probably the ones being most affected. That was the reason we turned our backs to president Simon, and to governor Granholm, when she started doing the same thing, shifting the blame, it's the republicans fault, I can't do anything about it.'"
Griffin Sharp of the MSU College Republicans says he doesn't oppose the Promise Scholarships. He just thinks governor Granholm's policies have made it impossible to sustain. He says state senate republicans did what they had to do.
"Because governor Granholm had taken all real structural reforms off the table, they weren't allowed to touch union benefits, they weren't allowed to touch another of other possible avenues for cutting spending," Sharp stated. "They had to end up cutting things that people actually need, like the Promise Scholarship."
For Marvin Yates of the Associated Students of MSU, the rally isn't where this story ends. He says the work to restore the Promise Scholarships will continue.
"We continue to, uh, with our letter writing campaign to senators, to the house as well, as well as our phone bank," Yates said. "We're starting a phone bank where we actually sit down on a daily basis at the office, at the ASMSU office. We make phone calls to those people who really are important to bringing back the promise."
By the end of the rally, it was clear that students think there's plenty of work, and blame, to go around. One student loudly shouted "do your job!"