DC Students Rally for Federal Aid
Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 11:04
Students from D.C. area schools converged on the west lawn of the Capitol building Friday to protest congressional attempts to cut student aid from the federal budget for fiscal year 2012.
Organized by members of the DC College Democrats, the rally included over 50 students from Georgetown, The George Washington University, American University, Catholic University, Trinity College and Marymount University.
"Student aid is something we've always been really passionate about," said Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS '13), president of the Georgetown College Democrats. "It's a progressive and non-partisan issue."
The local chapters of College Democrats also partnered with various other organizations to organize the rally, including DC Students Speak, a district-wide advocacy group that has been involved in talks regarding Georgetown's campus plan and organizing the student response to the recent noise ordinance passed in the District.
"We have a unique opportunity being in D.C.," Kohnert-Yount pointed out, saying that local students have a responsibility to speak for students around the rest of the country.
The protestors gathered under the shadow of the Capitol dome, alternating slogans and chants with personal testimonials and stories.
One participant's sign read, "My path to prosperity goes through college," while another read, "Paul Ryan got to go to college," referring to the House Budget Committee Chairman who has supported the cuts.
"Stop the raid on student aid!" was a common chant throughout the afternoon.
"College education is the single most important thing in this country today," Jake Sticka (SFS '13) said through a megaphone. Sticka, the vice president of the Georgetown College Democrats, became the president of the DC College Democrats Saturday.
Petar Georgiev (NHS '13), who came to the United States from Bulgaria when he was 11-years-old, stressed the importance of federal aid in his own life.
"The only reason I'm getting a good education at Georgetown University is because of federal funding. I did not come all this way to not go to college," Georgiev said.
Another student, Sean Keady (SFS '13), said he was a first-generation college student who receives almost 100 percent of his tuition from financial aid — a large part of which is federal funding.
Protestors said that the issue was an important one for all college students, even those who do not receive federal aid.
Mark Stern (COL '13), events director for the Georgetown College Democrats, said that while he does not receive financial aid, he still feels strongly about the issue.
"We do need to make some sort of sacrifice. What's unfair is Republicans asking students to sacrifice everything and the rich to sacrifice nothing," he said.
As the rally continued, tourists looked on curiously, taking pictures and moving closer to read the signs and hear protesters' stories. Some even chose to join in.
According to Kohnert-Yount though, the protest was just the start of the battle for student aid.
"The important thing is to raise awareness and generate enthusiasm about the issue," Kohnert-Yount said. "This isn't where the fight ends, it's where it starts."