Students protest tuition costs

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Students protest tuition costs

Kelsey Neubauer and Bryan O'Keefe

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A crowd of students gathered in front of the Bailey/Howe Library to speak out for the rights of students and university workers Nov. 12.

The Million Student March at UVM was part of a nation- wide movement calling for tuition-free public college education, erasure of student debt and an increase in pay for university workers.

Both students and community members joined in to speak about issues in the education system as well as treatment of campus workers.

Local resident Michael Ware said he believed strongly enough in the cause to join them.

”The principle aims are to end student debt, demand free tuition and change the priorities of education from being a business model to a right that all people should have access to,” Ware said.

He said that their goals are practical.

“Saying it’s unrealistic to have this model is always the answer when it comes to challenging the idea that everything is for sale,” Ware said. “That’s not the way education has been historically, and we want to take it back to the idea that education is a right.”

The event consisted of several students speaking to the crowd, encouraging them to chant for free education and calling for students everywhere to protest.

Event organizers included sophomore Angelo Colarusso and juniors Russel Evans, Dustin Keim and Kristine Corey and were among those who spoke.

“Tuition has gotten more and more expensive each year and UVM has consistently ranked among the most expensive public colleges for both in-state and out-of-state students,” Evans said. “To ask students and their families to continually shell out more and more each year for tuition while U.S. wages have been stagnant is frankly unacceptable.”

The rally also included UVM issues, focusing on claims of unfair labor practices and treatment of Sodexo workers.

“This is not only a wage issue, but a workers’ rights and free speech issue,” Keim said.

Despite several requests from students passing by asking them to leave the library, demonstrators continued their protest.

“I respect what they’re fighting for, but I don’t think they respected that people were doing their homework and working,” sophomore Sophie Patenaude said.

“I think they should gone around and talked people on a more personal level, because people would probably listen to them more,” she said.

Overall, Colarusso said he was pleased with the outcome of the demonstration.

“I thought we had a decent turnout, although I was definitely expecting a larger crowd. The weather definitely played a role in that,” Colarusso said. “The energy amongst the crowd was electric. Everyone was so passionate.”

He also said he believes improvements can be made for future demonstrations.

“For future demonstrations, It would be a good idea to have a more tangible plan to get immediate change,” Colarusso said. “Right now there’s a petition going around to implement a tuition freeze at UVM, so that is definitely a start.”