WKU SGA members set to attend annual Rally for Higher Education

WKU student body president Andi Dahmer (left), Kentucky State University student body president Onaje Cunningham (center) and Eastern Kentucky University student body president Laura Jackson (right) speak in front of the capital building in Frankfort Feb. 6. Eight Kentucky universities were represented at the rally to talk to representatives about their plans for the higher education tax reform.

Jack Dobbs

The WKU Student Government Association will join its counterparts from Murray State University and various other universities across the Commonwealth Tuesday at the annual Rally for Higher Education.

The Rally for Higher Education, which is held every year in Frankfort, is an opportunity for college students to voice their thoughts and suggest improvements to Kentucky lawmakers. This year, the delegation of SGA members from WKU is being led by Executive Vice President Garrett Edmonds.

“Higher education is not just about students,” Edmonds said. “It impacts our culture and our communities.”

WKU is sending 24 members of SGA to the conference, consisting of the executive board and select members of the senate. Director of Information Technology Paul Brosky, said he hopes the students in attendance will have their voices heard by the representatives.

“I hope that positive change can take place in response to student opinion,” Brosky said.

This year’s Rally for Higher Education comes at a time many would argue is transformative for state universities. As reported in a recent Herald article, universities all over Kentucky

have witnessed declining enrollment rates, with WKU seeing a decline from 20,267 students in 2017 to 19,461 in 2018.

Moreover, multiple demonstrations led by public school teachers have been held on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol Building in recent months, brought on by the ongoing state pension crisis.

“It’s not just students,” Edmonds said, “You have teachers and educators from all over the state fighting over these issues.”

Campus Improvements Committee Chair Matt Barr will also be in attendance at the rally. Barr said he believes representatives in Frankfort should be able to see what their funding for universities is going toward.

The rally is planned by the Kentucky Board of Student Body Presidents. Normally, this board meets with the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to discuss issues relevant to universities statewide. However, this year, scheduling conflicts mean the board will join SGA members from across the Commonwealth in rallying to drum up support for postsecondary education.

Edmonds also said the Board of Student Body Presidents will work together to create legislation for the student body that shares “common themes” such as student involvement on campus, strengthening outreach between the university community and working to increase student retention rates. “It’s important for [legislators] to recognize that we are here,” said Committee for Academic and Student Affairs Chair Amanda Harder, “We’re learning and growing and taking hands-on experiences to really get us

prepared for the workforce.”
Harder also said she thinks by meeting with representatives in Frankfort, it will allow the message of WKU to become more widely known and give the elected officials more reason to give funding back to WKU.

“Keeping WKU relevant and showing how it really has a place for everyone is very important,” Harder said.

The Rally for Higher Education will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort.

Reporter Jack Dobbs can be reached at 270-745-0655 and [email protected].