Annual ‘Support the U Day’ rally to be held Feb. 12

February 12, 2015

Who: University of Minnesota students from all five campuses state-wide
What: Support the U Day, when students rally on campus before busing to St. Paul to meet with their local lawmakers
When: Thursday, February 12; campus rally from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.; buses begin arriving in the south loop of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at 12:45 p.m.; students meet in small groups with lawmakers from 1 to 3 p.m.
Where: On-campus rally in the Great Hall, Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Ave., Minneapolis; St. Paul resource office for students is Room 300N, State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul
Media note: Members of the media who want to interview students from around Minnesota when they are at the Capitol should contact Julie Christensen at (612) 751-4967 or jrchris@umn.edu

University of Minnesota students from all five campuses will rally on the Twin Cities campus at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, before heading to St. Paul to urge lawmakers’ support for the U’s 2015 legislative request, including President Eric Kaler’s top priority, another tuition freeze.

To increase access and affordability, Kaler has proposed freezing for two years the Minnesota resident tuition rate for all students (about 53,000 system-wide). Kaler’s commitment to provide an excellent, accessible and affordable education resonated with Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers in 2013, when they invested $42 million to freeze tuition for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years. Kaler has made it his top priority again this session. He has asked lawmakers to invest $65.2 million for two years (2015-16 and 2016-17), extending the freeze to all graduate and professional students, too.

Organized by members of the Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition (MSLC), the annual event will provide participants a chance to meet one-on-one or in small groups with their lawmakers. Nearly 300 students have pre-registered to attend. MSLC has also asked students to make their case for the tuition freeze on social media using #WhyStudentsMatter.

Kaler, Board of Regents Chair Richard Beeson, the student body presidents from UMTC, U of M Duluth, U of M Crookston, U of M Morris, U of M Rochester and graduate student leaders will kick off the rally at 11:30 a.m. in the Great Hall, Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Ave., Minneapolis. Students are scheduled to begin boarding buses for St. Paul at 12:15 p.m.

Once at the State Capitol complex, the students plan to use Room 300N in the State Office Building as their home base, where they expect visits from Sen. Terri Bonoff, chair of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, Rep. Bud Nornes, chair of the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee, among other legislative leaders.

The day’s events are as follows:

  • 10 to 11 a.m. – Registration, Great Hall, Coffman Memorial Union (U of M campus)
  • 11:30 a.m. – Student-led rally, including remarks by President Eric Kaler and Board of Regents Chair Richard Beeson, Great Hall, Coffman Memorial Union
  • 12:30 p.m. – Buses begin arriving at the State Capitol, in the south loop of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
  • 1 to 3 p.m. –  Small group meetings with elected officials in their offices; students will use Room 300N, State Office Building, as their home base

The University is requesting $127.2 million over the next biennium for four priority areas. Gov. Dayton’s budget proposal, announced Jan. 27, provides $32.6 million toward the $65.2 million tuition freeze, or half of the funds needed to hold tuition flat for all resident students.

The three remaining areas of the U’s biennial budget request include:

  • $34.5 million for Healthy Minnesota, to strengthen the state’s health care delivery and address workforce shortages. The initiative would expand education and training programs in dentistry, psychiatry, mental health and geriatrics—particularly in Greater Minnesota and underserved communities.
  • $15 million for Facility Condition Improvement Strategy, for a more predictable funding stream to maintain the U’s 29 million square feet of infrastructure. In exchange for this general fund allocation, the U would decrease its Higher Education Asset Preservation and Restoration (HEAPR) capital request.
  • $12.5 million for Vibrant Communities, to improve the environmental health and safety impacts of mining and examine related economic development opportunities, and promote economic prosperity of Minnesota’s communities.

The governor’s proposal marks a 5.2 percent increase to the University's base general fund state appropriation, or about half of the requested 10.6 percent increase. If fully funded ($684.6 million), by 2017, the U’s 2015 biennial budget request would restore funding to essentially the same level the state provided in 2008, without adjusting for inflation.

For more information on the University of Minnesota’s 2015 legislative request, visit govrelations.umn.edu.

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