Students walk out of class to protest rising tuition costs, student debt

By on November 14, 2011
University of Louisville students walked out of class on Nov. 14, to protest rising tuition costs and student debt.

By Baylee Pulliam

“Hey hey, ho ho. Tuition hikes have got to go,” chanted Aubrey Higdon, as she marched across the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus Monday afternoon with her daughter.

The march was a part of a student-led walkout, held in conjunction with the social justice advocacy group, Occupy Louisville. U of L students left their classrooms to protest rising student debt, governmental budget cuts to education and university tuition hikes.

A student and parent, Higdon dropped out of college last year, after her tuition at the University of Louisville spiked to roughly $8,400 – an increase of six percentage points.

“Something had to give,” Higdon said. Although she was working a full-time job, she “couldn’t afford to pay that and support [her] daughter,” 19-month-old Myla, who participated in the walkout from her stroller.

Students rallied in the Bingham Humanities Quadrangle, and marched through the Humanities Building, Davidson, Strickler and Frazier Halls, the Ekstrom Library and the Ville Grille.

Student leaders equipped with microphones and bullhorns encouraged walkout participants to chant louder while inside the academic buildings.

“Education is a right, and we need to show [administration] that,” said U of L sophomore pan-African studies major and Occupier, Jeremy Clark, who co-led the march.

The twenty-some participants held signs and chanted, claiming “tuition hikes” had decreased students’ ability to go to college. Some students speculated that the crowd would have been larger, had there been more warning.

Although the event was announced over social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, sophomore exercise science major Nick Reburn said he only found out about the walkout when a fellow student marched out of class.

“I got up and followed him,” Reburn said. “Actually, a few of us did.”

According to the event’s Facebook page, the march was not intended as “an excuse to avoid school work or to offend our professors,” and students would need to be respectful while leaving their classes and make up any class work missed.

The march was followed by a teach-in on social justice held in the Humanities Quad. A related panel discussion titled “Justice in Kentucky” is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, in Bingham Humanities room 100.

bpulliam@louisvillecardinal.com

Photo by Nathan Gardner/The Louisville Cardinal

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