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5000 Protest Education Cuts

Students Rally on Boston Common Against Budget Slashing

By Alexandra E. Tibbetts, Special to The Crimson

BOSTON--Thousands of student demonstrators marched on the State House yesterday, waving signs and chanting in protest of proposals to further slash the budget for the Mass. higher education system.

After proceeding around the State House, the students gathered in the Boston Common, where they heard a series of speakers decry the budget cuts, which state officials say are necesitated by the severe fiscal crisis.

"This is your system of higher education. Don't let anyone take it away," said Patricia Payne, president of the faculty union at the Universities of Massachusetts at Amherst and Boston.

When Payne cited the proposed 10 to 15 percent tuition increase for 1991, the crowd hissed and booed. Soon the students began chanting, "No more cuts!"

In an interview during the rally, protest organizer David Varela called the event an "overall success." Motioning toward the crowd he estimated at more than 5,000, Varela said "85 to 90 percent of them are registered voters."

Varela, president of the student government at Framingham State College, said the key to averting a crisis in the state's higher education system was to have students register to vote and monitor their representatives' voting record on education issues.

"A sleeping giant has been awakened...student activism is here," Varela said.

Varela said that cutting the education budget will hurt more than just students.

"If we want to remain at the forefront of technology and medicine breakthroughs, then we can not pull back on our commitment to higher education," Varela told the crowd.

The students arrived, many by bus, from 20 publicly financed colleges around the state. Those interviewed said they were angered by plans to alleviate the state's fiscal crisis through increasing tuition and fees.

"It's disgusting that these cuts are being made," said Marian LeBlanc, student at North Shore Community College.

Maria J. Teixeira, junior at Salem State College, said that "required courses have been cut to a minimum...Class size has increased so much."

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