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March Against Rising Tuition Comes Up Short

“I feel like causing a huge scene is not the best way to inspire change,” said one student as she walked by a group of people rallying outside of Old Main.

However, just last weekend, Penn State held its annual student-run charity event, THON. With some 15,000 people and 46 hours of sleepless dancing, the university raised over $9.56 million dollars for the Four Diamonds Fund. Anyone who stepped in the BJC for 5 minutes would find it hard to describe THON as anything less than a “huge scene.”

Yesterday marked yet another call to unite for a cause. The March Against Rising Tuition was held in an effort to voice the student body’s disgust (well it’s kind of obvious) in the rising cost of tuition. It was a rally to protest the surmounting debt that the University is brushing off onto the students. Higher education is the corner stone of America’s capitalist economy, yet financial strains have made the gift of learning impossible for many. Some students are either forced to drop out or avoid college altogether, fearful of digging themselves into a hole of debt.

You would then assume that a tuition rally would be well received. You would think that this would be something students would be passionate about. However, the opposite is true. The March Against Rising Tuition was supported by only 100 or so participants, a relatively low turnout in comparison to the insane involvement in THON.

With this disparity in patronage, the question becomes apparent. How is Penn State willing to spend all year planning the world’s largest student run charity event, while a rally for fair tuition rates receives little to no attention?

One common complaint for students was the poor advertising, which I can understand. I’ve seen frat parties with more people attending on the Facebook page. The fact of the matter is, most students didn’t hear about the march at all. If you want to gather together for a cause, it may be a good idea to make that known. No flyers, no hand-outs, no flash mobs in the HUB?

The poor turnout can’t entirely be blamed on the organizers, however. Some students who were asked why they didn’t attend, gave the cliche alibi of school work. So, you can justify skipping a class because you went too hard at Indigo on Wednesday night but you can’t give two hours to fight for change in corrupt tuition hikes? The answer is that our school is apathetic. The students generally just DO NOT care.

During the 60’s, Penn State was a fire storm of angst and youthful passion. During the riots on NYC campuses, there were security forces sent to patrol this campus to ensure similar uprisings didn’t occur. There is even a mention of raucous Penn State in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” at the police convention. We were a force to be reckoned with.

Now, however, we’re seen as a bunch of spoiled kids who don’t care how much the cost to attend this University raises. We brush it off saying, “mommy and daddy will foot the bill.” It’s really sad when 40,000 young adults allow an out-of-touch administration to push us around with little to no resistance.

I’m just saying. How many of you wanted an eyesore to be constructed on the HUB lawn? How many of you even KNOW what is going in there? The truth is, Penn State has a totalitarian control on your wallet, and the student body is seemingly powerless. Many feel that whatever they do, the change we are fighting for will not be realized.

And to further the point of being completely disconnected, President Graham Spanier wasn’t even in Old Main during the rally. He was probably off buying State Patty’s Day gear at People’s Nation. Probably using a credit card linked to the Bursar’s account.

We, as students, may feel weak in comparison to the powerful administration. We may feel that whatever Graham Spanier craps out is signed into law and Lisa Powers is sent in to wrap a bow around it. But we are Penn State. THON went from raising only $2,000 to $9.56 million. If we put our 40,000 minds to something, we create an unstoppable force. We can be included in the decision making process of this university.

There is rumor of another March Against Rising Tuition on the horizon. Let’s do it right this time, Penn State. Come out and let your voice be heard. Gather for a cause. Inspire change.

“People should not fear their government. Government should fear their people.”
Thomas Jefferson

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