Posted April 28, 2011

Students stand with Temple for Cherry and White Day in Harrisburg

Cherry and White Day
Kevin Cook
Temple students approach the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg during Cherry and White Day, a student-organized advocacy event. Teams of student-advocates visited the office of each of Pennsylvania’s 253 General Assembly members to discuss their Temple experiences.

As the semester winds down, students continue to advocate for Temple to ensure fair funding for higher education in Pennsylvania during the next fiscal year. Led by Temple Student Government, dozens of Temple students traveled to Harrisburg on Tuesday, April 26, to meet with members of the State General Assembly in an advocacy event dubbed Cherry and White Day.

After meeting at Temple University Harrisburg for welcoming remarks from Government, Community and Public Affairs Senior Vice President Kenneth E. Lawrence Jr., the student-advocates formed small groups and walked the halls of the Capitol, visiting the office of each of Pennsylvania’s 253 General Assembly members. Each team of students was given a list of 12-13 offices to visit.

“We wanted to put a face to the issue,” said Alex W. McNeil, a junior social work major. “As students and citizens of the Commonwealth, we wanted to make sure that our leaders knew that cuts in higher education funding affect people, not just institutions. Today we had a chance to talk about our Temple experience with the people who will ultimately decide how much funding our school gets.”

Students met with elected officials when they were available, discussing the opportunities that the Commonwealth’s support allows for Temple students, and how they’re using their Temple education to make a difference in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.

“I had a chance to tell them that I grew up in Pennsylvania and made a conscious choice to stay close to home for college; that I want to return to my hometown to raise my family; and how Temple, with state-support, will allow me to fulfill my dream,” said Colin Saltry, a junior economics major and Temple Student Government president.

When government officials were unavailable, students left letters and notes discussing the importance of keeping higher education affordable, and Temple’s contributions to the well being of Pennsylvania.

“Higher education funding is not about numbers — it’s about people,” said State Rep. Mike Vereb, of Pennsylvania’s 150th District. “It’s about the students and the families that make up these institutions, and that is why it’s so important that you be here, meeting with elected officials and letting them know how much you care about Temple and your education.”

Cherry and White Day is the latest effort in a full semester of advocacy by Temple students that began in December when student leaders from Temple, Penn State, Pitt and Lincoln universities met on Main Campus to form the Pennsylvania Association of State-related Students (PASS). PASS then organized the Rally for Higher Education on the steps of the Capitol in February, as well as a number of on-campus and local rallies across the state.

“We’ve been so impressed with the energy and passion Temple Student Government and our students bring to Temple’s advocacy efforts,” said Lawrence. “Together we’ve made a lot of progress, and I am glad to know that students will remain engaged until a fair appropriation has been secured.”

The Pennsylvania Constitution requires that the Commonwealth’s budget be completed by the end of June.

The Temple Advocates Legislative Outreach Network (TALON) has been spearheading university efforts to communicate Temple's importance to Pennsylvania’s elected officials. So far, faculty, staff, students, alumni and other friends have sent 4,400 letters urging state legislators to support a fair appropriation. To join TALON in advocating for Temple, visit Temple's Government Relations web site.