On Presidents’ Day 2019, SEIU 503 members were among an estimated 4,500 people who marched at the Oregon State Capitol in support of funding public education. Our members were brilliant streaks of purple in a sea of red that enveloped Salem on #RedForEd Day.
PSU worker and SEIU leader Rob Fullmer delivered a powerful speech from the Capitol steps before teachers, staff and faculty, parents, students, and community members from across the state took to the Salem streets to demand that Oregon fully fund education.
SEIU shared our base of operations for the day with Oregon Student Association activists and members from AFT-Oregon, AAUP, AOF, and OEA. Our coalition members had 21 meetings with legislators and staff to push hard to raise sufficient revenue to fully fund higher education.
Our vision is simple: We believe that any Oregon student who wants to attend college should have access to that opportunity to succeed and that they get hands-on support from front-line staff and faculty that help them graduate in a timely manner, without taking on a lifetime of debt.
We are pushing for allocated dollars – beyond base funding – to go directly toward further lowering tuition hikes, supporting classroom and campus success and enhancing academic, financial, and career advising.
Even with a thriving economy, Oregon funding for higher education is still lower than it was before the Great Recession
To help meet our vision, we want an additional $120 million for public universities and $77 million for community colleges (above the 2017-19 Legislative Approved Budget). Without this essential funding – Higher Ed institutions will face significant shortfalls that can only be closed with a combination of huge tuition increases and Draconian cuts to services, programs, and faculty and staff. This would close the doors for our students across the state and hurt Oregon’s economy.
It’s still only February and the coming months will determine how much additional funding will be invested in higher education. Our member-advocates made an impression on lawmakers earlier this week, but the work is far from over. We need YOU and your colleagues to keep the momentum, ramp up the pressure, and ensure that your legislator votes to raise sufficient revenue to fully fund higher education.