On April 25, over 60 Southern Oregon University students drove to Salem to gather with approximately 400 other students from across the state to show their support for several education bills being considered by the Oregon legislature.
“For the most part the representatives were really receptive,” said Edward Oneil Latimore, Associated Students of Southern Oregon University Director of Student Life and Academic Affairs. “We made a lot of noise up there.”
Protesters met with state representatives to discuss several pieces of legislation that would affect Oregon students.
One such piece of legislation, House Bill 2963, would require the Oregon Board of Education to find ways to reduce textbook costs for college students.
Another bill, Senate Bill 242, would give the Oregon University System greater autonomy by granting them control over their budgets, tuition policies, and academic programs.
We discussed the veteran’s rights bill, the textbook bill, tuition equity, and then we did the Oregon Opportunity Grant,” said Hassan Harris, who participated in the protests. “It was good getting feedback from our public representatives.”
One bill in particular, SB742, caused a lot of controversy during the discussions. SB742, also known as the tuition equity bill, would grant in-state tuition rates to undocumented students, provided they fulfill certain criteria.
“There was overwhelming conflict with tuition equity,” said Latimore, describing his meeting with Rep. Mike McLane. “It’s not cut and dried, it’s not as simple as we wanted to make it. He said ‘We don’t want this to be a citizenship bill’.”
The protest was organized in conjunction with the Oregon Student Association, a non-profit organization that lobbies state legislators for student rights.
“The OSA did a good job,” said Harris. “We’ve put our voice out there.”
“It’s about staying engaged in that constant conversation to make a difference,” he said. “I feel like these are baby steps, and I feel like this is a good step.”