A gathering of government and education leaders yesterday denounced the Reagan Administration's proposed financial aid cuts at a Boston press conference, calling on students to lobby against the president, budget.
Two regional student organizations sponsored the forum, which was intended to rally support for a March 14 protest at the State House.
Addressing a crowd of about 100 at the Massachusetts College of Arts, U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) called the proposed $.23 billion reductions in the federal financial aid program "an arbitrary and capricious travesty."
"It is a choice against the best interests of our country," Kerry added.
The junior senator was by John Duff, chancellor of the Mass Board of Regents, student leaders from area colleges, and other state official.
The speakers protested the Administration's proposed military spending levels and emphasized the importance of higher education to the nation's future.
Kerry noted that the funds devoted to research on the controversial "Star Wars" defense project alone would fund the entire financial aid program.
The financial aid cuts will "be the end to equal opportunity in higher education," said Steven Barros, president of the State Student Association of Massachusetts, which co-sponsored the event.
"Both Harvard University and Roxbury Community College will feel the impact of these cuts. Students will find that the doors to a better future will close," said Christopher Dolan of Boston University, founder of the Boston Area Student Coalition, the event's other sponsor.
The Reagan Administration's budget proposal sets a $4000 cap on aid to individual students, eliminates guaranteed student, eliminates student loans for students whose family incomes exceed $32.500, and prohibits Pell Grants and other forms of aid to students whose family incomes exceed $25,000.
According to a report written by Kennedy School student Mark X. Cronin and distributed at the press conference, the proposed aid restrictions would make 40,000 current aid recipients across the state ineligible for federal assistance.
Half of Harvard's total student aid budget would be affected if the cuts--which are considered unlikely to pass in full--went through, University officials have estimated.
Dolan said that a mail campaign on area campuses had generated more than 6000 postcards to Congressmen protesting the cuts.
Harvard students have written more than 3500 postcards since Monday, said Undergraduate Council member Gina R. Levy '87, who attended the forum.
The Council sponsored the Harvard postcard drive and has worked with the regional student groups to organize the March 14 rally