Friday, March 19, 2010

Jazz Funeral for Public Education at UNO

On Tuesday, March 23, at noon, a coalition of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends of the University of New Orleans (UNO) calling themselves SAVE UNO will be holding a Jazz Funeral and rally to protest budget cuts to UNO and other colleges and universities across the state. The event is also in support of political reforms that will restore funding to higher education in Louisiana in the short and long term.

The Jazz Funeral will begin at the University Center at noon, march through campus, and culminate with a rally on the Quad in front of the UNO Library. All students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of UNO are invited to attend and support public higher education in the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana.

Speakers include Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center Executive Director James Perry; UNO alumni and activist Rafael Delgadillo; and UNO Graduate Student Anna Hackman.

According to a statement from organizers:
In 1958, the University of New Orleans opened its doors with the clear mandate of bringing “public-supported higher education to Louisiana's largest urban community." In little over a year, the state of Louisiana, led by Governor Jindal, has threatened that mission and undermined public support for UNO by cutting the budget for higher education by nearly $250 million dollars, with promises of more cuts to come. These cuts are occurring in a state that desperately needs more funding for higher education and ranks near the bottom of virtually every educational indicator. This assault on higher education, in turn, undermines Louisiana’s economic future. In order for the state to attract companies that offer good jobs, we need a labor force that is educationally equipped for the 21st century. Our political leaders must stop cuts to higher education – stop undermining the state’s future -- and reform the state constitution so that higher education is protected and supported in both the short and long term.

UNO, which saw its enrollment and budget decimated after Hurricane Katrina, has thus far been able to maintain its reputation as a place where a rigorous education can be obtained at a reasonable cost. That reputation and reality is being threatened on both ends: On the one hand, class sizes are increasing, class offerings are decreasing, and UNO is able to offer less and less in the way of programs, technology, and a college experience. On the other hand, as they receive less, students see their tuition and fees increase, which makes higher education less and less accessible for the average citizen. This Rally demands a different vision of higher education.
We'll see you Tuesday at noon, at UNO.

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