Archive for Thursday, February 8, 2007

College students lobby for repairs

February 8, 2007


— They came bearing broken pipes and chunks of crumbling buildings.

College students arrived at the Statehouse on Wednesday to meet with legislators about the problem of needed repairs on their campuses.

The students said their major goal was to seek help from the Legislature to address the problem of approximately $660 million in maintenance and repairs at regents universities.

"We're talking deferred maintenance," said Chris Blackstone, a sophomore from Kansas University.

He and Jason Boots, the student body president, were among a handful of KU students who made the trip to the Capitol as part of Higher Education Day.

The students displayed bits of pipe from a recent mishap at Kansas State University and falling debris from buildings on other campuses.

"Don't touch that," Ian Staples, legislative director for KU Student Senate, warned about the asbestos-lined pipe. Staples said he didn't bring any examples from KU because the pipes from a recent break at KU were too disgusting to display.

Blackstone said a $575 million proposal by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, which includes increases in tolls to the Kansas Turnpike, was a "creative plan." He also said the students supported other parts of Sebelius' proposed budget for higher education.

Talk on the part of some lawmakers of establishing a student-paid campus maintenance fee to pay for the repairs was "not acceptable," Boots said.

"That's just putting the burden back on the students," he said. The upkeep of universities is a statewide responsibility, he said.

The students noted that tuition has increased dramatically over the past few years while the percentage of state funding has decreased for total operating expenses of the schools.

A Senate task force is considering a plan to allow universities to install a campus maintenance fee of up to $5 per credit hour for resident students and up to $15 per credit hour for nonresident students.

The task force is expected to decide the matter today.


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