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CART fights funding cuts

Members of CART — the Coalition Against Rising Tuition — are on the prowl again seeking student signatures to aid in their letter writing campaign.

Led by Undergraduate Student Government Senator Nathan Wiedenhoft, the focus of this year’s campaign is to ask state representatives to maintain state funding for the next biannual budget that will be approved in June.

“We’re not asking for any more money, but we’re asking them not to cut it,” he said.

CART, which was created two years ago, initially fought the potential repeal of a 1 cent sales tax increase in Ohio. That issue has since been resolved and the organization has now become the voice for higher education.

“It’s moved from a one issue campaign to a general advocacy on behalf of higher education,” said Alex Wright, USG president.

Considering the budget constraints facing the state this year, asking representatives to maintain the current level of funding is a way to gain their respect, Wiedenhoft said.

“There’s a huge hole in the budget that they’re starting off with and it’s just not plausible to go out and ask for more money,” he said.

Earlier this year, Wiedenhoft wanted to increase the impact of the letter writing campaign by sending two letters. Ironically, due to funding issues the campaign was reduced to just one letter.

And to save money, members have been considering hand delivering the letters to representatives in Columbus rather than mailing them.

“We don’t have enough money, as is, for postage right now,” Wiedenhoft said.

Financial issues won’t stop CART’s mission as members also began sending the letters to various University organizations over listprocs as a way to conserve money, he said.

This reduces the amount of paper used and also allows students to print the letters off and turn them into the USG office at their discretion, Wiedenhoft said.

In addition to students providing their names and addresses on the letters, there is an optional personal section, which allows students to explain how funding for higher education will help them, he said.

“It’s a personal message and it’s more effective because when you get 120 of the same letters, but with different names all they have to do is look at the addresses of each one and remember ‘well those are the ones we have to send replies to,'” Wiedenhoft said. “Now they’ll have to go through and actually read the different personal messages.”

Reaching the goal of maintaining the current level state funding will increase with every letter thats signed, Wright said.

“One pebble dropped into a bucket won’t make a huge splash, but a boulder dropped in the bucket will,” he said.

Wright stresses that not only students need to get involved, but also parents and members of the community.

“When it comes from parents and other members, it has a little extra credence,” he said.

The state benefits substantially from the amount of resources provided by the University and the city, Wright said.

“I think a strong education system equals a strong state and a strong economy,” he said. “Higher education is a win win situation. It employs, it puts money in the state coffers and creates future leaders of tomorrow.”

Members of USG will be in the Union from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Thursday and will have letters available for students to sign.

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