Wielding protest signs and rally cries, hundreds of students congregated outside the Georgia State Capitol to protest against the potential $387 million worth in budget cuts against the University System of Georgia (USG). The rally united students from nearly all of the USG’s 35 public colleges throughout the state of Georgia outside the capitol’s steps on Monday, March 15.
The initial rally was organized by Undergraduate SGA President Alina Staskevicius and SGA presidents from the other 34 USG universities over the last few weeks. The rally’s events began at 8:00 a.m. in the morning at Hurt Park near the Georgia State University campus, and included a press conference by the presidents. The rally eventually led way to a march to the Capitol building at 10 a.m., where students stood outside the steps in protest.
Although the rally remained peaceful, the rally shifted in tone with the presence of the Young Democrats organization’s own budget rally occurring that the same time. According to reports, the USG rally organizers had attempted to secure a permit to rally on the steps of the Capitol, but the Young Democrats had attained one before them. As well, some organizers had reported that following the USG SGA presidents press conference, representatives from the Young Democrats began their own march from Hurt Park after announcing their own rally with bullhorns and signs. Eventually the two rallies merged at the Capitol, after the SGA presidents began meeting inside with legislative representatives following the march.
Currently, there has been no set date or set provisions for the vote on the USG budget cuts. However, SGA representatives and state legislators have recommended that students write to their representatives to let their voice be heard.
“In an increasingly technological world the need for a better education is constantly growing. If we have budget cuts, that makes college education only available to the rich,” said Clark Coleman, first-year ENVE major. “We’re all rallying together to stand up for a cause. We’re just standing up for what we believe in.”