BOSTON--About 700 college students from across the state--including approximately 40 from Harvard--held a rally here yesterday morning to protest pending Congressional cuts in financial aid.
The protest began outside Government Center with a series of short speeches by students, a professor from the university of Massachusetts at Amherst and a state senator.
Carrying a multitude of signs and chanting a variety of slogans, the students then marched to 114 State St., the site of the Republican National Committee's state headquarters.
Students also registered to vote, sent postcards to their parents asking them to call Congress about the cuts and signed a giant "scroll" to Republican Senate leaders demanding restoration of cuts passed in the House.
The rally lasted about three hours.
The U.S. House of Representatives, largely along party lines, approved a federal budget that would cut $10.2 billion in student aid while the U.S. Senate passed a plan that would cut $5 billion.
Republicans have argued that the benefits of a smaller budget deficit outweigh the costs of the short-term pain from the cuts.
One of the most emotional speeches of the morning was delivered by Dan Rivera, a junior at UMass-Amherst.
Rivera said he spent three and a half years in the military, including six months with Operation Desert Storm.
"Now, I have to hold three jobs, and I still can't make ends meet," he said.
Rivera criticized students for failing in the past to act on social causes such as Proposition 187 and cutbacks in support for the poor. But he said they now had the chance to make up for their passivity by rallying students on their campuses.
Richard Rogers, a statistics professor at UMass-Amherst, said that art affordable, state-subsidized education allowed him to avoid the fate of his father--a lifelong bus drive who longed to be an academic.
He urged the students to protest the cuts vigorously.
"The faculty will survive," Rogers said. "The graduate students will survive. But the undergraduates are not fully represented at the table. You must make your voices hears. You must complain about the pain."
No students from Harvard spoke at the rally.