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Students Made the Difference at DC Protest

High School Students Demand Institutional Voice, Legislators Pat Students on Head

From the Frederick News-Post:

Courtesy Frederick News-Post

As the student representative on the Frederick County Board of Education, Neera Nathan attends meetings and offers input on critical issues affecting the school system.

However, when it comes time to make key decisions, Neera, 17, offers neither a yea or nay vote.

Students representatives to the board are not allowed to vote, a practice Neera hopes to change.

"A student has a different realm of experience than a regular board member," she said. "And they have different specialty they can bring to the board. What a regular board member doesn't have is 12 years of experience in the (school system) they preside over."

This year the Frederick County Association of Student Councils issued its first legislative platform. The association's agenda includes a request that the school board support partial voting rights for student representatives.

The article continues, and features MD state legislators raising as many objections as they could think of when asked about this issue -- everything from we shouldn't trust someone like a student with a vote to well, we could do it, but I couldn't sell it to my constituents, to it's a problem that she isn't elected from the public. Ms. Nathan is nothing short of an incredible student: she's got a 4.6 GPA with 4 AP classes, she served twice as captain of the girls varsity tennis team and is vice president of the Frederick County Association of Student Councils (FCASC). If she isn't capable of responsibly representing the students who duly elected her, I don't know who is.

The sad irony is that the only county School Board in Maryland that has a full voting student representative is also a board whose adult members are wholly appointed by the Governor. 

Scottish Students Fight to Save Campus

The BBC is reporting on the continued organizing in support of the University of Galway's satellite Crichton Campus in Dumfries, Scotland.

Courtesy BBC News

Due to the University of Galway losing money on its Crichton campus, University officials have made repeated insinuations of Crichton's imminent closure as a branch campus. Students protesting the move have demonstrated and gathered signatures in Dumfries, but have since also started mobilizing in Glasgow itself, hoping to draw the attention of University decision-makers.

Dumfries is a unique place in Scotland; in 1999 the nation's first multi-institutional campus was founded on the Crichton estate. Currently it is home to the University of Glasgow, the University of Paisley, Bell College and Dumfries & Galloway College. The establishment of such an academic community has not only attracted international students, but also new life into a town once struggling with economic downturn. UG's warning has also threatened a £37 million expansion of the Crichton campus that was given the go-ahead less than a month ago.

There are two separate targets of these campaigns and protests: one naturally is University officials, but they are also challenging the Scotting Funding Council (a billion-pound educational resource allocator set up by the Scottish government) to live up to its mission. The SFC has had a history of financing "sexy" projects that are high-profile, but failing to fund bread and butter concerns that may not garner front page headlines. Hopefully UG's threatened withdrawal will kickstart some funds, but the people who would be affected most by the closure aren't waiting around.

From the article:

"To pull the plug on a university before 10 years are up - that is a bit short-sighted. [...] If they can close down the Crichton they can close down any of the departments up there."
The student protesters have been active in Dumfries already gathering signatures for a petition against the campus closure.
They also intend to protest in Edinburgh when the Scottish Funding Council meets to discuss the funding situation.

Fortunately for the students, they are not alone. The Director of Glasgow's Crichton campus has been on the move,

making persuasive arguments

detailing the positive educational and economic impact the campus is having.

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