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FRANKFORT, Ky (WDRB) -- 300 college students bared it all below the ankle on Tuesday to prove a point -- cuts to higher education play right into a stereotype.
The fresh faces of the next generation quickly learned the soles of their feet as they hit the cold concrete and then chilly Capitol marble floors can speak right to the ears of politicians. "If they're going to keep cutting higher education, we're going to fulfill our own stereotypes and we're going to end up being the barefoot state everyone makes fun of," says U of L student Olivia McMillen.
This year, Governor Steve Beshear proposed drastic spending cuts. For the 12th year in a row, higher education is taking a hit of 6.4%. It was enough for hundreds of students from the state's eight universities to put their foot down Tuesday afternoon at the capitol. "Every time there is a cut there is a direct correlation to tuition hikes," says U of L Student Body President Kurtis Frizzell. "There's going to be higher tuition, there's going to be increased fees and that's what we need to prevent."
UK Student Body President Micah Fielden says students who stay face a tough financial burden. "Students are leaving with so much debt that really it's a smarter decision to not go to college at all."
Students from U of L are taking their fight one step further, helping to write a resolution that redefines college affordability as, "Monetarily obtainable by perspective students regardless of background, socioeconomic status, or family or personal income," explains U of L student Max Morely, who wrote part of the resolution.
Students say it's ironic the state is shooting itself in the foot, trying to save millions now at the risk of a bigger future investment. "That's several million dollars to our university that we need for scholarships, for new classroom buildings, and to bring in the best professors to teach us what we need to know to make Kentucky's economy boom once again," explains a frustrated McMillen.
The House resolution the students are supporting doesn't have the force of law. But HB 152 possibly could and will be introduced later this legislative session. It will attempt to legally redefine college affordability.