So by now many readers are probably aware of Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Corbett’s proposed plan to cut the budget of the 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities (including West Chester University) by 20%. On campus today many students, faculty, and staff joined together to protest in the Academic Quad, and the rally against budget cuts outside of Ehringer Gym. Many readers on campus probably heard and saw the surpising turnout in support of West Chester University. Not surprisingly todays protest was not the first time students have rallied to protect their wallets and education. One of the most well documented examples is from 1979.
It started with a triumphant tuition cap in the summer of 1979. Due to the efforts of the Commonwealth Association of Students, the cap prevented a $50 increase in tuition for colleges across Pennsylvania. However in Harrisburg a coalition run by the Secretary of Education, Robert Scanlon, worked to declare the cap unconstitutional. At the same time the Board of State College and University Directors voted that a tuition increase of $150 was needed, an extra $100 than what was originally planned. At this time Pennsylvania was last in the nation in the number of students that went on from high school to college, where as the tuition for public higher education was the highest, and the schools underfunded. The students, of course, decided to take action (Quad, 1979).
In a particulary clever protest, students across Pennsylvania (including West Chester State College) signed thousands of fake $50 bills with the phrase “This is the only $50 I have, take it or leave it!”, and sent them to the office of the Secretary of Education. The students of West Chester State College then organized a boycott of classes, not dissimilar from today's class walkout, in protest of the tuition increase and the underfunding of state schools. The organizers encouraged students to form pickets in front of classroom buildings, send letters to their state legislators, and attend a teach-in organized by APSCUF (Association of State College and University Faculty). (Quad, 1979)
The information on the 1979 protest comes from The Quad, which can be found in Francis Harvey Green Library. The images shown are part of Special Collections' Photograph Collection.