Students Organizing Rally Against College Cuts

LAS VEGAS (AP) - No know knows how many students will answer
calls to rally this week at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to
protest deep college budget cuts requested by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Adam Cronis, student president at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, says organizers are trying to reach everyone.

Student leaders from UNLV, Nevada State College and the College of Southern Nevada are canvassing campuses, advertising on newspaper Web sites, recruiting students on Facebook, passing out
fliers at basketball games, and visiting classes to drum up support
or the Thursday event at the UNLV campus.

Organizers hope to also attract parents, educators and civic leaders.

"We definitely have to make sure we give a strong message for education," Cronis said. "That means we need a passionate crowd
to show up."

Gibbons is proposing cuts of 36 percent for higher education, citing a severe downturn in state revenues due to the nationwide recession. Along with a 6 percent cut in state salaries, the impact on campuses could be devastating, higher education officials say.

Gerry Bomotti, UNLV's senior vice president for finance and business, said that because of the way each institution is funded, the governor's plan would mean a 52 percent cut to UNLV.

The rally comes on the heels of a big turnout of students at December's meeting of the state university Board of Regents, which governs higher education.

Nearly 200 students turned out, prompting wry praise from Chancellor Jim Rogers.

"What took you so long?" he asked.

Students were threatened at the time with a 25 percent tuition hike to cover what were then seen as serious shortfalls in the state budget.

The cuts the governor proposed during his State of the State message last week are much deeper.

"Once students realize that because of the cuts, the only way to make up for them is through tuition increases, they will pay attention," said David Waterhouse, student president at the College of Southern Nevada.

Jessica Lucero, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association at UNLV, said the aim for Thursday's rally was to get students to contact state legislators.

The Legislature is due to begin considering the governor's budget proposals when it convenes Feb. 2.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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