Budget a Priority for UL System Students
BATON ROUGE – The University of Louisiana System’s Student Advisory Council (SAC) elected its new leadership last week. University of Louisiana at Monroe’s Student Government Association (SGA) President Hannah Livingston will chair the council. McNeese State University SGA President Tim Rye will serve as vice-chair and Northwestern State University SGA President Kayla Wingfield will be the SAC Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Coordinator. Legislative funding is the top priority for the group.
“It is very important, first and foremost, to address the budget cut issue. I would like to create awareness of the facts. If these budget cuts become reality, it will set our universities back quite a few years and suspend growth and improvement. I hope with proactive efforts, we never encounter a situation like we are currently facing,” said Livingston.
Higher education is facing a $219 million funding shortfall. Recent efforts by the House of Representatives to earmark an additional $50 million to higher education may not be available from its source, the tax amnesty program, and the $13.5 million in economic development funds given back to the state by The Shaw Group will provide increased funding for the dual enrollment program ($7.3 million) as well as funding for library acquisitions ($6.2 million); not general operating expenses.
Furthermore, revenue from five percent tuition increases recently approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget will only address our unfunded mandated costs (projected at $13 million), which are in addition to the recommended budget cuts.
“We’re still looking at a drastic budget cut to our universities,” said UL System President Randy Moffett. “It is important that our student leaders are staying informed and relaying the facts to the students they represent. They are a valuable asset to our board, our universities and the state.”
SAC is comprised of the SGA Presidents from all eight UL System schools. The council is charged with representing the needs of its 80,000 students to the decision-makers on the UL System Board of Supervisors as well as creating awareness of special issues concerning higher education and engaging students in programs offered by the UL System.
Past student-led initiatives through SAC included Extreme Spring Break in 2006, 2007, and 2008 as well as the “RU Ready?” college preparation campaigns from 2002-2005. Wingfield, SAC’s new initiative coordinator, plans to build upon the UL System’s service-learning focus with Learn and Serve America.
SAC Chair Hannah Livingston’s theme for her term as Chair of the council is unity, which ties into the UL System’s new tagline of “Eight Universities Strong.”
“I would like to see the UL System campuses become more unified to strive for excellence, not just for their own university, but for all eight universities,” said Livingston.
The UL System is the only higher education system in Louisiana with a Board-recognized student council. In addition to its work for the UL System, SAC liaises with the constitutionally created Louisiana Council of Student Body Presidents overseen by the Board of Regents.
EIGHT UNIVERSITIES STRONG: The University of Louisiana System is the state’s largest higher education system with over 80,000 students enrolled at Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the University of Louisiana at Monroe